UAV with 5G Provides Remote Connectivity for Forestry Machinery

Working with several collaborators, Telia Company has remotely operated forestry machinery in an area with limited connectivity through the use of a drone-mounted 5G network, successfully controlling the equipment from 80km away By William Mackenzie / 26 Jun 2024
UAV with 5G Provides Remote Connectivity for Forestry Machinery
Follow UST

Telia Company, in collaboration with several industrial partners, has remotely controlled forestry machinery via 5G in an area with limited connectivity, using a drone equipped with its own portable mobile base station. 

Successful tests were carried out in a forest in Virsbo outside Västerås, central Sweden, at the beginning of May. 

Forestry machinery was transported to a clear-cutting site where it was connected using 5G technology mounted on a drone. During the test, the drone was approximately 500 meters from the forestry machine, but created a coverage area extending up to 3 kilometers. The driver of the forestry machine was in Skogforsk’s remote control lab in Uppsala, roughly 80 kilometers away.

The project aims to investigate how drone technology and 5G technology could enable remote areas around Sweden to be worked with remote-controlled vehicles. Mittuniversitetet’s researchers are studying the latency and reliability in data communication, which is very key when remotely controlling machinery.

The test was carried out as part of a research project involving Mittuniversitetet, Telia, Ericsson, Skogforsk, SCA, Volvo CE and Biometria, co-funded by Vinnova and the program for Advanced Digitalization. The group passed a milestone in November 2021 when it was able to remotely control a timber loader at SCA’s Torsboda timber terminal outside Timrå in northern Sweden.

Magnus Leonhardt, Head of Strategy and Innovation for Telia Sweden’s B2B business, explained; “We can now establish that it is possible to connect and remotely control large vehicles via a drone, which in practice acts as a base station in the mobile network.

“This creates completely new and flexible opportunities to connect businesses that work in areas with insufficient network coverage. Apart from the forestry and agricultural industry, the technology can be used in disaster areas if normal mobile coverage is completely knocked out.”

Petrus Jönsson, researcher and deputy program manager at Skogforsk, who participated in the test, commented; “In this test, we chose to remotely control a forwarder in a clearing to assess the connection via the drone.

“In the next step, we want to test connecting and remotely controlling a soil preparation machine, which is a much heavier machine that operates in inaccessible terrain. The goal for us is to improve the working environment for the drivers, and soil preparation workers, in particular, operate in a very tough environment.”

Professor Mattias O’Nils added; “We have collected data from the test with the drone and will now analyze and evaluate the results. We will also do comparative studies with other types of connections such as Wi-Fi-based networks and explore further possibilities with 5G.”

Posted by William Mackenzie Connect & Contact