On November 21, 2023, the 5G-Blueprint project’s consortium held its final event at the Industrial Museum Zeeland, in Sas van Gent (The Netherlands): a showcase during which partners shared the project’s exciting outcome, featuring demos revolving around its teleoperation use cases.
The project’s multidisciplinary consortium of 26 public-private partners gathered together with around 140 participants from the industry and research communities, and representatives of the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management and the Flemish Ministry of Mobility and Public Works (MIW), to share with them the harvest of 40 months of explorations in the use of 5G communication technology to remotely control vehicles and ships for transport and logistics.
The PUBLIC ENTITIES’ TAKE
After the welcome speech and introduction by Project Coordinator Wim Vandenberghe (MIW), the dense agenda of the half-day event kicked off with keynotes from Jan Noelmans, Counselor logistics, regional airports and rail Cabinet of the Flemish Minister for Mobility and Public Works, and Kees van der Burg, Director General for Mobility and Transport of the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management, representing the project’s government entities point of view. Noelmans’ speech emphasised how “5G-Blueprint project demonstrates the power of collaborative innovation, with public and private entities, and research institutions, joining forces for shaping the future of remote operations in transport and logistics and its role vis-à-vis automated mobility.” A sentiment shared by van der Burg, who also spoke about the importance of research and experimentation in the quest to further advance autonomous transport: “Everything new takes time. We need to accept that introducing these types of technologies requires a gradual process of testing and scaling up. Gaining more practical experience is essential if we’re to ensure things develop in the right direction.”
HIGHLIGHTING AND DISCUSSING ACHIEVEMENTS
Johann Marquez-Barja (imec), 5G-Blueprint’s Technical Coordinator, followed the keynotes with an engaging presentation highlighting the project’s results: from the departure concept, context and envisioned goal to the definition of a roadmap for deployment, working scenarios and techno-economic & business analysis, via the extensive testing conducted during 5G-Blueprint’s run; finally leaving the audience with a set of lessons learned, to serve as a jumping-off point and recommendations for future endeavours in teleoperation.
The project’s achievements were then discussed by project partners coming from the field of network operators, automotive, teleoperation and ports: in a panel, guests Jan Cools (CEO – Be-Mobile), Muriel Desaeger (General Manager R&D Technology Strategy Planning & Incubation – Toyota Motor Europe), Jakub Juza (CEO – Roboauto), Geerd Kakes (Director Fieldlabs – KPN) and Peter Van Parys (COO – North Sea Port) offered their take, from each one’s specific point of view.
All presentations are available in the dedicated section of the website: https://www.5gblueprint.eu/library/presentations/
LIVE DEMOS & SHOWCASES
From the late morning onwards, the participants were finally treated to live demonstrations of 5G-Blueprint’s use cases – based on the testing conducted, in three different real-life locations, in the final leg of the project’s run (Vlissingen, Antwerp and at the Belgian-Dutch border crossing between Sas van Gent and Zelzate). The aim: showing how the results of the 5G-Blueprint, when combined with other technologies and functionalities, can be seen as an important ‘missing technical piece’ of the puzzle for the possible future deployment of more and more autonomous driving and shipping.
All the demos were executed live and revolved around the following scenarios and themes: teleoperation of a car seamlessly crossing the border between Belgium and The Netherlands (Introduced by Rakshith Kusumakar of partner V-tron), teleoperation and auto docking of a truck (introduced by Bas Hetjes, a researcher from partner HAN – Hogeschool van Arnhem en Nijmegen), teleoperation of a skid steer in both indoor and outdoor environments, teleoperation of a barge seamlessly crossing the border and, finally, the enabling functions explored within the project.
In addition to the live demos, from the lunch break, and during the informal closure with snacks and drinks – which both offered a further occasion to discuss and deepen the themes presented during the plenary session and in the demos – the participants had access to a series of small showcases, creating an information market for specific aspects of the project (from a simple overview to in-depth insights on the business and 5G angles of the project), or highlighting specific project partners. The showcases offered information through extensive printed material – such as a series of leaflets and a brochure on the enabling functions, created specially for the event – and video material.
All print material created for the event by the consortium is available for browsing and download in our “Promo materials” section.
SUMMING IT ALL UP
The project has validated in real-life environments that 5G technology supports this challenging set of requirements and showed live its feasibility. Furthermore, it also created and validated novel solutions that allow a 5G connection to keep performing in this manner when crossing a country border. Where in a typical 4G network an end user gets disconnected for a minute or longer when crossing the border, the 5G-Blueprint project managed to reduce this disconnection time to less than 200 milliseconds. This opens the path for international teleoperation of vessels and vehicles throughout Europe.