On the first day of the TECH LIVE LONDON event, the Cloud & 5G stage hosted a fascinating talk about robot-aided forestry management.
Ceren Clulow, who currently leads the Digital Connectivity Service in Nottinghamshire County Council, spoke about the innovative 5G capabilities that have recently been launched in Nottingham Forest.
She explained what a 5G Connected Forest actually entails, and the wide variety of benefits that it can bring - not just to Nottingham and its historic forest, but to forests, walking trails, areas of natural beauty, and protected historic sites across the world.
What are 5G dogs, and how can they benefit a forest?
Although robots feature across our daily lives, many still have an instinctive fear about their growing foothold in society (obviously, films haven’t helped us here).
Yet these robo pups give us a fantastic insight into the future of 5G, and where the industry is heading. And critically, they show consumers that 5G is a force for good.
Nottingham Forest is the first forest in the world that delivers 5G connectivity. Clulow and her team have successfully used 5G to not only deliver revolutionary visitor attractions, but also to protect the sensitive forest environment.
She was joined on stage by Taufiq Asyhari, who currently leads the Future Information Networks (FINET) Research Cluster at Birmingham City University, and Dr Moad Idrissi, who is a Research Associate in the field of Smart Computing and Robotics.
They then introduced Gizmo and Eric to the stage.
The job of these 5G robot docs is to survey and manage the site, and conduct live environmental monitoring.
They are programmed to explore the forest floor, using sensors that detect terrain and its overall health. The dogs can also measure the volume of sunlight reaching the terrain through the trees.
The dogs are used alongside robotic drones, which can fly above the canopy of trees and assess their health. The drones are equipped to spot signs of dehydration, a lack of nutrients, and identify diseases early on, before they are allowed to spread.
An insight into the future of 5G
Beyond their remarkable ability to protect sites like these in the present, they will play a huge role in preserving them for many years to come.
Through these technological innovations, Nottingham Forest has been firmly put back on the map.
Its pioneering use of VR and 5G gives people a reason to travel and see this (rather than another closer) forest. Plus, the technology has been elegantly designed to enhance visitors’ experience of the forest, not detract from it.
Sometimes, with broad concepts like 5G and the metaverse, it can be hard for consumers to picture precisely what role these technologies will play. Yes, we’ve seen VR gaming and can understand why that market will continue to grow, but the utility of 5G in real-world contexts is not always immediately obvious.
That’s precisely what, I think, made this talk such a huge success - regardless of your industry knowledge, this demonstration made it immediately clear how 5G can be implemented into society, for the benefit of everyone.
The use cases of these 5G dogs are tangible, highly beneficial, and would previously have required hours and hours of manual labour. In short, innovations like these will go a long way towards making the wider public more excited about the future of 5G.