The test was carried out at the Pantano de San Juan, Madrid.
Ericsson, Telefónica and IMDEA Networks participated in the test.
Madrid, December 17th, 2019. Unmanned Teknologies Applications (UTEK), in cooperation with 5TONIC members Telefónica, Ericsson and IMDEA Networks, had carried out the first world experience of a remotely controlled unmanned surface vessel (USV) using the connectivity provided by the Telefónica commercial 4G network. The trial was carried out at the Pantano de San Juan in Madrid (https://goo.gl/maps/ns1UrjvCuNPQyxxp6) in early December and the results have fulfilled all the expectations.
USVs are boats that operate on the surface of the water without a crew and can be used for a number of applications, ranging from oceanographic exploration to coast-line surveillance, search and rescue support or mine hunting. UTEK’s USVs provide high reliability and advanced performance, adapted to customer needs. The final product is highly robust in terms of low failure rate and high effectiveness thanks to the use of aerospace methodologies.
UTEK provided a boat that can be remotely controlled using the connectivity supported by a radio frequency system operating in unlicensed spectrum. The controller at the shore uses the real time video signal captured by a camera in the boat to steer it in the right direction. The substitution of the RF system by LTE was initially tested in the 5TONIC lab in Leganés. Both, the controller in the shore and the USV were connected to the Telefónica LTE network using off-the-shelf commercial routers. For the support of the trial, Telefónica provided the “VPN only Mobile” service, that implements a tunnel inside the mobile network, without getting out to Internet, and also provides fixed IP addresses to the routers. LTE based performance and reliability were comparable to those provided by the private radio system, with the advantage of greatly simplifying the deployment of the equipment.
During the trial, the USV traveled several kilometers controlled from the shore, reaching speeds in excess of 15 knots. No loss of connectivity was observed, and latency was low enough to have no impact on the accuracy of the USV steering at those speeds. The throughput supported also allowed for the use of high-resolution video.
UTEK and 5TONIC will continue their collaboration in order to implement the same use case fully leveraging 5G connectivity. 5G is expected to provide not only higher capacity, that will allow for the use of higher resolution video and 360º vision, but also higher reliability and greater flexibility for configuring the network in order to support the specific requirements of this use case, thanks to network slicing and more effective quality of service management in 5G.
UTEK became a 5TONIC collaborator in March 2019.
Cesar Martínez, UTEK’s CEO, said: “The use of commercial communications infrastructures already in service provides a great impulse for USV operation in coastal and inland waters applications”
Manuel Lorenzo, Head of Technology & Innovation, Ericsson Spain said: “Mobile networks evolution to 5G enables a huge range of use cases for safe remote control of unmanned vehicles, vessels, robots, etc. The outcome of Telefónica, Ericsson and IMDEA Networks collaboration with UTEK is the perfect example for those use cases and it also demonstrates how co-creation schemes can deliver breakthrough innovations to the market in record time, leveraging LTE infrastructures and its evolution to 5G”.
5TONIC was founded by Telefónica and IMDEA Networks Institute with a clear vision to create an open research and innovation ecosystem laboratory in which industry and academia come together to boost technology and business innovative ventures. The laboratory promotes joint project development, joint entrepreneurial ventures, discussion fora, events and conference sites, all in an international environment of the highest impact. 5TONIC serves to show the capabilities and interoperation of pre-commercial 5G equipment, services, and applications, by leading global companies in the 5G arena. The laboratory was recently awarded Digital Innovation Hub status by the European Commission.
Unmanned Teknologies Applications S.L. (UTEK) is a leading company in the development of high reliability and advanced performances unmanned vessels (Unmanned Surface Vehicles – USV). UTEK is composed of a multidisciplinary group of professionals with broad experience in complex projects in the fields of aerospace, unmanned systems, and naval electronics. Among their customers, they are some of the most important maritime entities at national and international level, as well as Security and Armed Forces from several countries. Demand for unmanned vessels for naval applications is increasing due to the wide variety of applications from maritime surveillance to oceanic research, both in civilian and defense scenarios.