Verizon highlighted the use of 5G connectivity — over Wi-Fi — for the autonomous mobile robots that it is starting to roll along the factory floor.

“Cellular technology is really good at mobile devices. Wi-Fi is not. Wi-Fi doesn’t innately hand over between access points,” said Bill Stafford, associate director of robotics in the emerging technology solutions group at Verizon, during a demonstration of robotics at Verizon’s 5G day in Basking Ridge, N.J. last Thursday. He was highlighting one of the main reasons why an autonomous mobile robot might need a 5G connection over a private network to handle tasks reliably.

“We have several partner clients in the auto manufacturing industry,” Stafford said. “They’ve been doing robots for quite a while. They’re at the scale of thousands of robots, and what they’re starting to see is a degradation in their Wi-Fi capabilities…as we increase the number of autonomous devices that are living on our Wi-Fi networks, the Wi-Fi is just not keeping up.”

Security is one of the major reasons, Stafford said: “For this device specifically we’ve actually provisioned SIM cards…so a warehouse says ‘I want these 100 devices and only these devices to be on our network, everyone else is out’” That is quite a bit different from a panoply of Wi-Fi connections you can usually see and even access if you go into a facility.

According to Stafford, it’s really important for robots to use 5G for its decrease in network latency and its increase in speed. Latency is a particular concern for Wi-Fi networks, especially when dealing with objects like autonomous robots where you can’t have these vehicles stalling or jittering around in the middle of a task.

Factories can also reduce the amount of infrastructure required with 5G compared to Wi-Fi. Stafford said that a single $12,000 5G cellular node could cover the same area covered by around 30 Wi-Fi nodes.

Ericsson’s Cradlepoint gave similar reasons recently for Toyota replacing Wi-Fi with private 5G in a forklift factory in the United States. They said that the Wi-Fi gave “uneven” performance inside the factory and no coverage outside.

Original article can be seen at: