Intelligent Connectivity: How 5G is Boosting AI, IoT, and Self-driving Cars

5G connectivity has begun enabling crucial advances in AI, IoT, VR, and fully autonomous vehicles. How will this evolution impact our world?

Intelligent Connectivity: How 5G is Boosting AI, IoT, and Self-driving Cars
GSMA for IE

As new technologies mature, new and advanced use cases arise from the fusion of 5G, Artificial Intelligence (AI), and the Internet of Things (IoT). This fusion creates a world of intelligent connectivity that positively impacts all individuals, industry, society, and the economy.

VR/AR

Discover the Virtual Reality Cocktail Bar: The Place For The Drinks of the Future

From now to the year 2025 we are going to witness the evolution and adoption of technologies powered by 5G. These technologies are going to be defined by highly contextualized and personalized experiences.

According to a recent GSMA Intelligence report, the number of 5G global connections is going to reach 1.3 billion by 2025 covering 40 percent of the world’s population or approximately 2.7 billion people. Key sectors that benefit the most from intelligent connectivity include entertainment, transportation, public services, and industrial manufacturing. But all industries are going to experience change and benefit with environmental sustainability at the center of all. 

Consumers are going to enjoy more immersive, contextual experiences. Society is going to use technology to tackle the world’s biggest challenges. Industries are expected to use technology to reach a new level of efficiency and productivity. All in all, intelligent Connectivity is going to become the heart of new ecosystems and growth.

5G Connectivity

Nokia enables 5G connectivity for IoT
Nokia's 5G network enables IoT/Source: Susan Fourtané for Interesting Engineering

By 2021, it is expected that 50 million people worldwide could be using 5G. This figure could be rising to 1.2 billion people by 2025. Reliable, low-latency, up to 1GB mobile broadband speeds are going to be globally available as part of the everyday life.   

Up to 1GB per second download speeds will enable consistent high-quality mobile broadband experiences with unbroken Internet access at home, in the office, and on the move. The seamless combination of mobile connectivity between 4G, 5G, networked Wi-Fi, and fixed broadband connections will enable delivery of constant high-quality mobile connection. This is going to make Internet and the Cloud more accessible than ever.

5G is going to use a single unified standard to make life easier for consumers when traveling internationally. Mari-Noëlle Jego-Laveissière, Director of R&D for Orange, says that “customers must be able to get online anywhere”.

Other important technology trends will then be combined with 5G are going to deliver transformative customer benefits. Smarter platforms powered by Artificial Intelligence (AI), and increasingly by the use of Big Data and Machine Learning are expected to use the data collected from the Internet of Things (IoT), to enable improved decision-making and deliver higher quality products and services.

Advertisement

Internet of Things (IoT)

5G connected industrial manufacturing
5G and IoT enable remote industrial manufacturing/Source: Susan Fourtané for Interesting Engineering 

Imagine people and things seamlessly connected to any available ultra-fast network at any time. This is going to enable humans to reach a new level of industrial productivity. 

The IoT is already part of our everyday life. Siri and Alexa live on our mobile phones to answer our questions. Health bracelets and smartwatches keep track of our daily step goal and can also tell us if we need to drink more water. Households are increasingly incorporating connected things such as utility meters and smart lights.

The era of hyperconnectivity is here. By 2025, the GSMA estimates that there will be 25 billion connected devices which will count on hyperconnectivity enabled by enhanced and undisturbed mobile broadband. The IoT is rapidly advancing with more and more connected product with embedded sensors providing essential data.

Intelligent Connectivity refers to a powerful combination of flexible, capable 5G networks, smarter AI-powered distributed platforms, and cost-effective connectivity to billions of mobile devices and connected things. Intelligent Connectivity is underpinned by the hyperconnectivity that is going to be delivered through 5G and the IoT, and combined with artificial intelligence and big data.

Advertisement

Advanced Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) 

virtual reality experience
Vive Focus Virtual Reality experience/Source: Susan Fourtané for Interesting Engineering 

Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) are already making gaming far more immersive with products such as the Teslasuit. Innovative devices such as the current versions of Microsoft’s Xbox and Sony’s Playstation give some insight into what the future of gaming can bring. Game players now count with AI assistance in many games. Better connectivity and more affordable devices are enabling a wider proliferation of gamers.

Fast, mobile, low-latency access to powerful Cloud-based gaming servers are expected to enable gamers to enjoy the latest Virtual Reality games anywhere without the cost or inconvenience of expensive computing hardware or consoles. Players are going to enjoy a more exciting, gaming experience with freedom of movement and better interaction with the game and the real world through Augmented Reality.

Cordless devices, such as the Vive Focus, are going to transform gaming into an activity that is part of everyday entertainment without the limitations of space and time. 

Advertisement

 Robotics and Artificial Intelligence (AI) 

ABB industrial robot
Mimus, a giant ABB industrial robot, uses embedded sensors to respond to and interact with human movement/Source: Susan Fourtané for Interesting Engineering 

In 2012, Swedish engineers successfully demonstrated that computer programs can score 150 on an IQ test. As AI continues to get smarter a single computer chip is expected to have an IQ of 10,000 by 2047; this surpasses by far the maximum human IQ of 200.

Tactile Internet for automation is going to be the next evolution of the IoT. By enabling real-time human-to-machine (H2M) and machine-to-machine (M2M) interactions through high-speed, low-latency 5G network connections, humans and machines are going to interact with their environments using touch and visual feedback.

IoT-integrated edge computing together with AI and machine learning algorithms are going to allow condition-based maintenance of parts such as car engines and manufacturing robots. Machines can also log themselves in for self-administered maintenance.

Reprogrammable robotics are the future of industrial manufacturing and industrial production. Cloud edge computing can track essential data such as inventory information. The coordination of robots can be optimized by repurposing them regularly as performed by Baxter and Rethink Robotics.

Advertisement

The tactile Internet is going to enable the efficient manufacture of highly customized products. Humans assisting production are going to be equipped with connected tools such as touch-sensitive connected gloves and wearable sensors. Human error and the risk of injury can then be minimized and even eliminated entirely.  

Duties such as inspection, maintenance, and repair can be conducted remotely in settings from smart industrial plants to airplanes. ProGlove’s connected touch feedback system can already optimize quality-checks within factories, or assisting with assembly and enhancing other aspects of the manufacturing process. Specialized portable robots are going to make customized limited edition production more affordable, adding to the demand for these technologies.

Connected and autonomous vehicles  

autonomous car
Mercedes-Benz Smart Vision EQ Level 5 autonomous car/Source: Susan Fourtané for Interesting Engineering

Connected vehicles provide extensive assistance to drivers while keeping their passengers entertained at the same time. Autonomous and unmanned vehicles already deliver improvements to many industries in logistics, delivery, and agriculture as well as terrestrial and aerial transportation of people themselves.

Advertisement

Connected vehicles currently on the market have reached Level 3 of autonomy. Level 4 is going to give the vehicle full control over the entire trip under certain conditions but the passenger can take over the wheel as a backup at will.

Vehicles with Level 5 of autonomy are not going to have steering wheel or pedals. Instead, an intelligent unmanned ride is going to be requested by a mobile device to collect the user. The user simply climbs in, relax, and can make use of the riding time to work, read, make phone calls, watch a movie, or even take a nap while approaching their destination.

Companies including Google’s Waymo, Uber, Tesla, Volvo, General Motors/Cruise, Nissan, Mercedes, BMW, and Ford are currently conducting Level 4 pilots on public roads. Automotive companies are conducting Level 5 tests as well.

The Mercedes-Benz Smart Vision EQ (pictured above) is a Level 5 autonomous car being tested by the German automaker. Because the network upgrade is paramount for Level 5 vehicles, the automotive industry and mobile operators are collaborating in order to develop strategies for disruptive trends in connectivity and automation.

Advertisement

Services based on autonomous vehicles, or emerging Mobility as a Service (MaaS), are going to initially be limited to carefully controlled urban environments before becoming mainstream in the late 2030s.

Drone Delivery 

drone delivery
Drone powered by 5G/Source: Susan Fourtané for Interesting Engineering 

5G networks are set to enable Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) --also known as drones-- to provide fast, low-cost, secure connected delivery. You will be able to place your orders from your mobile device, pay fewer delivery costs, and receive your goods quickly and securely. The 5G network will help to coordinate large fleets letting drones fly safely, automatically avoiding collisions with high buildings and other drones or flying vehicles.

Smart homes' access control to your property is going to increase flexibility in delivery times. The 5G network also provides secure connections, authentication, and smart autonomous navigation with high-definition video backup and recovery location in case of emergencies. Artificial Intelligence is going to optimize drone route management.  

This may sound futuristic, however, Amazon Prime Air , Boston Dynamics, and others are already working to introduce fleets of aerial and road-based unmanned, autonomous delivery vehicles, such as SpotMini, which will deliver goods across almost any terrain.

Some types of drones are going to be able to navigate autonomously while others are goung to climb stairs and open smart doors based on the access permissions that they were granted. Imagine the convenience of ordering throughout the week without needing to be in when your deliveries arrive. 

Industrial productivity and engineering design 

virtual reality for automotive engineering design
VR for automotive engineering design/Source: Susan Fourtané for Interesting Engineering 

High-speed, low-latency mobile connectivity combined with AR/VR will enable new levels of telepresence. This is going to enable the navigation of high-risk situations from the safety of a control room. AR/VR devices powered by 5G are going to bring a new generation of headsets that are wireless and highly portable.  

Services such as Immerse provide highly effective and intuitive virtual training. Low-latency, high-speed 5G Wi-Fi connections are going to be essential to such imitation of real-life situations.

In the future, training in machinery and safety is going to be conducted through AR. It is going to be possible to rehearse complex tasks before performing them in the real world. Surgeons could practice heart surgery and civil engineers could perform their complex duties safely before applying the irreversible changes on machines.

The emerging intelligent ecosystems are going to be able to apply predictive analytics in order to determine high probability results. This is going to change education and training as we know them into highly effective learning. 

Advertisement