#DiversityInScience - Diversity in Practice in 6G Research15. January 2023
3D holograms that let you do maintenance in a production hall thousands of miles away or operate robots over this distance in real time? What sounds like science fiction today should become reality in the coming years thanks to the research being done at Silicon Austria Labs GmbH (SAL). A key technology for this scenario in the factory of the future is wireless communication – the research speciality of SAL’s Linz facility. Here, a team of around 50 researchers from 17 nations is working on tomorrow’s mobile communications standards. The establishment of the new 5G test bed in Linz will speed up connectivity in production halls still further. And as 5G becomes increasingly widespread in industrial applications, SAL is already working on the next generation, 6G. But it isn’t only about speed: particular importance is attached to security and sustainability. Read the insights provided by researchers into this topic below.
What makes 5G a key technology for Industry 4.0?
Machine-to-machine communication is an indispensable part of Industry 4.0. It enables connections between machinery, plant, people and robots as well as the modern production techniques necessary to remain competitive in highly industrialized areas. 5G for industrial applications has enormous potential for cutting the costs of processes and production procedures. Reliable wireless communication with 5G allows extensive automation of distributed industrial plants, making them easier to maintain, more flexible and consequently more resilient to system modifications. Major advantages of 5G are its speed and its ability to transmit data in real time. This opens up new opportunities for interaction: employees can interact more efficiently by using augmented reality, for example. 6G will be the communication technology of the next industrial generation, Industry 5.0.
Hans-Peter Bernhard, head of the Wireless Communications research unit, SAL
What does SAL do to support businesses during this transformation?
In association with the Johannes Kepler University Linz, Linz Center of Mechatronics and a telecom provider, the “5G/6G research and experimentation test bed” has been set up for industry-related research. The most modern industrial 5G test environment in Austria is currently the one at the JKU LIT Factory. Here, customer-specific application scenarios for industry and SMEs can be developed and tested in realistic conditions. Trialling 5G applications at an early stage gives businesses the chance to be part of the latest developments in comprehensively connected and flexibly customizable production, assembly and logistics processes.
Raheeb Muzaffar, senior scientist, Wireless Communications, SAL
6G – what makes the next generation better?
The next generation of mobile communications networks, 6G, will make use of sub-THz communications and artificial intelligence to be even faster, more secure and more energy-efficient and therefore more sustainable. The strategic use of artificial intelligence for signal processing in the high-frequency systems will drastically reduce the complexity, costs and energy consumption of existing electronics-based systems. In 6G, the fusion of radar technology and communications will play a major role for many applications. Sustainability and energy-efficiency are among the key requirements when designing the sixth-generation networks. The aim is the fastest-possible communication between humans and machines – with no delays and as securely and sustainably as possible.
Golsa Ghiaasi, senior scientist, Wireless Communications, SAL