Ever wondered how a city can not only adapt to the digital age but thrive in it? Our world is becoming more and more digital, and this not only affects how we communicate with each other but also how products are manufactured and how cities function. An exciting project has set itself the goal of developing applications for the latest generation of mobile communications, 5G, and testing them in modern production facilities and in the city. Why? To bring us closer to the many possibilities of 5G in an understandable way and make them tangible in real situations. Together with cooperation partners such as institutes of the University of Stuttgart, Germany, Fraunhofer IAO and IPA, the city of Stuttgart and others¹, Unisphere GmbH wants to strengthen research and industry in the region and create the basis for nationwide 5G applications. To achieve that Unisphere provides its in-depths knowledge of drone applications and weather conditions to support new solutions for, e.g., pollution monitoring.
The question is, how can 5G revolutionize industries and Smart Cities, and what possibilities does it unlock?
How Does 5G Work
Let's think of research related to 5G technology as a way to make our industry and urban areas smarter. Instead of complicated technical details, we focus on how 5G could affect our daily lives. The research project takes place at the ARENA2036 research campus and uses the existing and constantly expanding 5G infrastructure of Nokia Bell Labs. Here, the foundations are being laid to use 5G efficiently in various areas.
This project aims to make the developed technologies widely accessible. The nationwide expansion of the 5G network enables various areas of application, particularly in Industry 4.0. These applications promise greater efficiency, safety and time savings for mechanical engineering and industrial production in Southern Germany. The intention is to establish 5G as a technological forerunner for the region and to take a leading role in Industry 4.0 in the long term.
One exciting aspect of the project is the technology transfer to Smart City applications. What does that mean? The researchers are considering how 5G can be used in Smart Cities and then testing it in the field. These tested ideas will later be demonstrated in different parts of Stuttgart, such as the airport, the Vaihingen campus and the city center. This approach ensures that the technology not only works in closed laboratories but also in real urban environments.
In the field of Smart Cities, the focus is particularly on the use of drones. This may sound futuristic, but it's about how drones could be used for various tasks in our cities. From monitoring public spaces to delivering packages — the possibilities are endless. This project shows us how 5G can help overcome urban challenges in innovative ways.
Value of 5G for Industry 4.0 and Smart City Use Cases
5G technology promises groundbreaking advances for Industry 4.0 and Smart Cities. Previous limitations in wireless applications, such as limited bandwidths and high latency, are a matter of the past.
With 5G, customized networks can be operated, enabling three main service categories:
Enhanced Mobile Broadband (eMBB): Supports extremely high data rates of up to 10 Gbit/s for applications such as high-resolution video transmissions and virtual/augmented reality.
Ultra Reliable Low Latency Communications (uRLLC): Provides low latency down to 1 ms, perfect for machine control and safety-critical systems.
Massive Machine-Type Communications (mMTC): Enables communication between intelligent units with very high connection density.
These three service categories and the overlapping localization service category are shown in Figure 1 (Concept for the 5G innovation competition as part of the BMVI's 5x5G strategy, State capital city of Stuttgart) in the typical form of the 5G triangle with an additional layer for the localization option.
The introduction of 5G is proceeding gradually and dynamically in the city of Stuttgart. Enhanced Mobile Broadband (eMBB) is already available, while URLLC and mMTC are in the standardization process. The latest end devices are expected to be available in the coming quarters.
In summary, 5G promises a transformative era for industry and Smart Cities.
5G for Drone Applications
Furthermore, the project enables green space, environmental and pollution monitoring by drones through 5G. This supports the efficient collection of environmental data and is an advantage over stationary measurements. The use of drones to record air pollutants allows for location-independent measurements and offers new opportunities for environmental protection.
The use of unmanned aerial vehicles is also relevant in various areas in which camera inspections are used to monitor operating or maintenance processes. One example is the inspection of structures such as bridges or hydraulic structures.
In addition, the drones, which are partially autonomous and have cameras, are used in the security-relevant environment of Stuttgart Airport, which places particularly high demands on the reliability of the technology. These drones are regularly used to inspect the runway, apron, taxiways, airport buildings and fences. This saves a considerable amount of time compared to manual inspections by ground staff. The high data transmission rate of 5G also ensures the navigation of autonomous aircraft in challenging situations such as strong winds or technical problems.
Last but not least is the use of unmanned aerial vehicles in logistics and goods deliveries, as well as transporting small freight goods between the Fraunhofer campus and ARENA2036. The use of drones for logistics offers a variety of applications and has various users, including planned ambulance deliveries as well as parcel or delivery services.
In conclusion, the 5G Synergy project in Stuttgart stands as a beacon of innovation and progress, showcasing the tangible impact of 5G in overcoming urban challenges. From enhancing Industry 4.0 to pioneering Smart City applications with drones, the project underscores the versatile potential of 5G. As Stuttgart leads the gradual introduction of 5G, the city is on the brink of a transformative era, experiencing the benefits of Enhanced Mobile Broadband with more advancements on the horizon. Beyond mere connectivity, the project's focus on green space, environmental monitoring, and diverse drone applications reflects 5G's role as a driving force toward a smarter, more connected, and environmentally conscious future.