Telia joins with Swedish tech consortium to put 5G farming robot through its paces
Operator Telia is working with a consortium of Swedish research and tech companies to test the effectiveness of cellular 5G to connect and control robots in the farming industry. The group has connected an autonomous robot, programmed for weed control in a farming environment, to Telia’s public 5G network in Sweden. The parties said they want to test the 5G robot solution in “real world” conditions.
Besides Telia, the group comprises Swedish agricultural robotics company Ekobot, Swedish network video company Axis Communications, the state-owned Research Institute of Sweden (RISE). The robot, also called Ekobot, is an autonomous electric vehicle that identifies and removes weeds with the help of advanced camera sensors and AI. Testing is being carried out at a farm outside the city of Västerås in Sweden.
The idea is that farmers will be able to automate costly manual work and reduce usage of harmful chemical herbicides. Sensors mounted on the robot — “multispectral cameras and soil probes” — generate data about weeds in the field, which is carried to and from the cloud over the 5G network for analysis and decision making. Findings are made available to the farmer as well. The robot can also be remote-steered over the 5G network, as well.
A statement said: “All in all, this requires a powerful, robust and secure connectivity solution. 5G with its unique properties, like low latency and high bandwidth can meet these needs.” Ekobot, listed on Nasdaq First North, is already working with “some of Sweden’s leading farmers”. The company wants to offer “practical and sustainable solutions to agricultural issues while reducing workload with autonomous tools for vegetable farmers”.
Magnus Leonhardt, head of innovation at Telia Sweden, said: “For several years now, we have explored how 5G can be deployed in a range of industries, from manufacturing to healthcare. This partnership gives us valuable insights into the world of farming, where technology plays a critical role for sustainable development. We believe the combination of 5G and automation in precision farming has a lot of potential.”
Erik Jonuks, chief executive at Ekobot, said: “Telia leads 5G-rollout in Sweden and has the competence and technology to connect, monitor, and remote-steer the robot via the 5G network during real conditions in farming. With RISE’s unique knowledge in agrotech and Axis’s video technology, we can take important steps forward in industrializing and scaling the solution.”