A 5G robot is coming to Helsinki airport

Telia has launched a pre-commercial 5G network at Helsinki airport, and helped the airport authority to introduce a robot to test support for operation and customer service.

Helsinki airport became Telia’s first 5G customer in Finland. The mobile operator paid more than €30 million for a 130 MHz band on the 3.5GHz frequency earlier this year for its upcoming 5G service, but this trial with the airport authority Finavia is being conducted on the 28GHz.

“The robot can deliver real-time video stream from the terminal and enable for example monitoring the terminal area through remote or autonomous control and see that everything is running as it should. The robot can also guide passengers in the terminal, and we aim to try different use cases during the project”, said Heikki Koski, Chief Digital Officer of Finavia.

”5G will start with enterprise customers, especially for industrial automation and remote control. The low-latency connection and massive capacity of 5G will serve the airport well with its masses of passengers and data, and with the focus on security and fluency of services”, added Janne Koistinen, 5G Program Director of Telia Finland.

This is not the first time robots have appeared at transport hubs. In October, London’s St. Pancras station, the Eurostar terminus, played host to an IBM Watson-powered robot, called Pepper, as a means to entertain passengers on the platform as well as provide travel information. While Pepper and its controller need to reside in the same WLAN network, the robot at Helsinki airport will transmit data over 5G network, therefore control can be operated remotely, although at the moment the network is only covering the airport. The 5G connectivity will also provide the high data rate needed to stream real-time high quality video monitoring.

No detail of the robot’s functions or design has been released, nor do the project operators disclose what technology is being used to provide the robot with AI capabilities at the background. Telia said the 5G network is built on Nokia technologies. It also plans to launch the commercial 5G service on 3.5GHz in early 2019 when its 5G licence becomes effective.

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