So it turns out that right now most of the ground-based unmanned projects spend a long time in pilot status. It is rather difficult to fully test an unmanned taxi or a courier robot in a metropolis with a bunch of pedestrians and, frankly, active traffic.
But there are facilities where there are not very many people, and the infrastructure is suitable, and safety requirements are met. Yes, yes, we are about heavy industry and mining.
This is BELAZ 7513R, a mining robotic dump truck with a lifting capacity of 130 tons and a maximum speed of 50 km / h. It was for these machines that we deployed a section of the 5G network in the operating Chernogorskiy coal mine, Republic of Khakassia, SUEK.
In 2019, we have already tested the operation of such dump trucks and loaders working in tandem with them, but at 4G capacities. And this year, a fragment of the 5G network was deployed on Huawei equipment. For this, two distributed two-sector base stations (gnodeB) with a frequency of 100 MHz are used, operating in non-standalone mode. Actually, due to the use of NSA, we added a couple more radio modules to the system to create an LTE anchor network to those four 5G modules that we installed at the very beginning of the test.
Dump trucks work on the basis of a solution from VIST GROUP.
This is where one of the tangible advantages of 5G is revealed specifically for drones – the minimum ping between the command sent by the operator from the control center to BELAZ itself. After all, the process of managing an unmanned dump truck looks like this
- HD video cameras are installed at BELAZ and along the route, each of them transmits a video stream to an information processing center
- the operator, looking at the video stream from the BELAZ HD camera, controls the dump truck.
Yes, yes, just like in good old car simulators with steering wheel and pedals. Only the machine is real and its operating weight is just over 100 tons. One BELAZ has 7 video cameras, and for normal operation they need about 30 Mbit / s. This means that we already have 14 video cameras for 2 BELAZ trucks and a doubled stream of 60 Mbit / s. And so on, depending on the number of machines you want to connect.
The lower the ping in this case, the faster the work in general – the operator may not be aware that there is always a noticeable time lag between his action (turning the steering wheel) and the actual turn of the dump truck. Accordingly, both the accuracy of movement of BELAZ vehicles and safety at the facility are increased. The relief of the coal mine is rather complex, and as mining continues, the relief is also changing.
A fragment of the test 5G network covers exactly the one and a half kilometer part of the BELAZ route. It is important to understand that this is exactly the testing of the 5G network, which, we hope, will increase the interest in the technology itself and prove its usefulness in numbers. At the same time, it is still too early to talk about the full-scale implementation of 5G in such industries, because in our country as a whole it is not something that has certainly decided on the regulation of specific frequencies, plus the cost of deployment must also be taken into account: the total cost of a network in the 4.4-4.99 range (namely for the time being, there is permission from the State Commission on Radio Frequencies for it), will be much higher than networks for 3.4-3.8 (the preferred 5G band).
Previously, industrial Internet technologies based on MESH were used to control drones, and in comparison with it, 5G still gives better results.
Overall, the pilot has proven to be successful, and the benefits to the industry will be much more evident in the future. Of course, there are general questions and difficulties with the implementation of 5G in the Russian Federation, with permission for frequencies and other things, but we hope that this will pass.