Nineteen projects in total received a piece of the $20 million AUD pie, but easily the coolest is an autonomous firefighting tank (aptly called the Fire Tank) built by Rheinmetall Defence, which secured $1.5 million AUD. The Fire Tank, which is “capable of traversing extremely dangerous terrains to support rescue, path clearing and firefighting missions,” will use low-band 5G for long-rate remote control. Rheinmetall hopes to investigate whether the vehicle’s 5G range could be extended through the use of drones.
Perhaps the most recognizable recipient of the Initiative’s funding is Nokia, who obtained $1.9 million AUD for a “National 5G Industrial Incubation Lab” and $900,000 AUD for a collaborative robots project. The Industrial Incubation Lab will research 5G’s future applications in railway safety, airport situational awareness, and power over-voltage management. Nokia’s “5G Connected Cobots” project will demonstrate using 5G to offload cobots’ sensor data and intensive processing onto an edge cloud computing platform, which will then tell the cobots how to interact with their surroundings and even humans.
Optus Networks, an Australian ISP, was awarded $648,000 AUD to equip drones and vehicles with 5G and intelligently monitor critical power infrastructure in the country. HMI Technologies, a transportation company based in Australia and New Zealand, obtained $1.4 million AUD to ensure the safe and reliable operation of Automated Shuttle Vehicles (ASVs), which enhance mobility for the elderly and disabled communities.
The 5G Innovation Initiative focuses on providing funding to projects across vital economic sectors such as agriculture, construction, manufacturing, transport, and education. The Initiative was included in the Morrison Government’s 2020-21 budget with the goal of creating jobs and “[accelerating] the digital transformation of American businesses.” Specifically, the Initiative seeks to help build Australia’s 5G ecosystem by showing other businesses how they can adopt 5G and use it to improve products and efficiency. Two more rounds of the Initiative will roll out in 2022 and 2023 respectively.
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