Japan's SoftBank and Huawei's Wireless X Labs recently signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) regarding connected robots. SoftBank plans to offer Cube and Kibako (automated cube robots), while Huawei provides 5G wireless networks. Joint efforts will be conducted to implement 5G-based smart service robots by 2018.
With an aging global population, there will be 1.3 billion people aged over 60 by 2030, accounting for 16 percent of the world's total population. This represents an increasing number of the population that will require special care and nursing. Service robots will play an important role to resolve this challenging social issue.
However, current service robots will require a higher level of intelligence. Such robots must fully comprehend their immediate surroundings to complete specific tasks, such as goods delivery in an open environment, interactions with natural languages or gestures, security inspection and checks, and even more complex household activities.
The cooperation between SoftBank and Huawei aims to enhance the intelligence of service robots. A service robot is connected to cloud AI ("brain") which implements recognition and analysis of the local environment and returns a result back to the robot. 5G can then offer tens of Mbps uplink bandwidth and ubiquitous indoor/outdoor coverage required by machine vision and radar data.
In conclusion, a huge amount of AI computing can be completed over the cloud. AI helps enhance service robots with reduced computing load, power consumption, sizes, and costs. 5G can also enable data sharing among multiple robots to facilitate machine learning and evolution of AI.
SoftBank is committed to innovating and developing smart robots which have created huge market potential. This cooperation is more than a combination of advanced network technologies and cutting-edge robotics, but also convergence of cloud AI and local intelligence.
Wang Yufeng, R&D Director of Huawei Wireless X Labs, emphasized that "A new 5G digital world is taking shape. Future applications need further collaboration between AI terminals, mobile connections, and cloud AI.
"This imposes high requirements on ultra-high bandwidth for uplink data transmission, ultra-low latency for downlink control, precise positioning, and coordinated synchronization. 5G is well established to provide real-time reliable connections to satisfy a growing list of diversified demands."