Launched one year ago, with Scottish Government backing, the Scotland 5G Centre is working at a national level to stimulate economic development and promote the benefits of the high-speed mobile technology.
One project that has already been thoroughly tested and is ready to go to market is led by the University of Glasgow. The institution is one of three founding partners selected to receive funding.
The money from the Scotland 5G Centre has enabled the university to build its own 5G network ecosystem that will enable test and development of multiple use cases.
Students have been able to conduct their lab experiments remotely, using a pioneering robot – assembling and measuring an electrical circuit using equipment physically situated in the university’s laboratory.
It is believed to be one of the first demonstrations of remote robotics being used in the higher education sector.
Paul Coffey, chief executive of the Scotland 5G Centre, said: “A robotic arm is always going to make people sit up and take notice.
“I am pleased to say that fine-tuning is now complete and this pioneering 5G-based technology is ready to enable manufacturing and other industries to be able to carry out complex tasks from offsite locations.
“The economic and societal benefits are significant; enabling factories to be more competitive in a wider market and allowing people to live in rural or remote areas while still being able to access urban or industrial centres. And the technology can be harnessed across several sectors, including construction, education, healthcare such as tele-diagnosis, tele-pharmacy and so on.”
He added: “This is only the beginning. We have several other projects in the pipeline across all three founding partners, which will deliver substantial and lasting improvements in fast, reliable connectivity, particularly in rural areas.
“Sectors such as healthcare, manufacturing and education are set to reap significant benefits as a result. I do believe that 5G will transform how we communicate in all walks of life.”
Over the next 12 months, the centre will also continue to roll out its S5GConnect programme, delivering the next stage of the Government’s 5G strategy with a series of hubs.
The hubs will support economic growth through the deployment and adoption of 5G services across the country, supported by a £4 million investment from the Government. The first hub, in Alloa, is due to open by May.
Professor Muhammad Imran, who leads the research team at the University of Glasgow, said: “The speed of digital communication that 5G provides is remarkable, and opens up many new possibilities for ‘telepresence’, with an almost instantaneous connection between systems anywhere in the world.
“Using direct control of robots with zero-lag connections, researchers and technicians will be able to have a physical presence in the lab from the other side of the world if need be. Our trials included Glasgow students in China using our robots in Glasgow, as well as the other way around.”