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09.18.2019Business Tech

Even the average Joe can program industrial robots with 5G

By: Chris Ashraf
Even the Average Joe Can Program Industrial Robots with 5G

Imagine being able to tell a robot what you want it to do with just the wave a wand. Well that type of experience is possible with the help of 5G, augmented reality (AR) and artificial intelligence (AI).

At Verizon’s 5G Lab in Cambridge Mass, Southie Autonomy gave us a glimpse at how 5G can help allow any person, even those without robotics expertise or computer skills, to program and train any industrial or collaborative robot essentially in real-time, using just hand gestures.

For example, a worker can program a robotic arm to pick up a shampoo bottle and place it in a box by just waving a wand over the bottle and the box.  Using AI, Southie software then programs the robot to perform that specific task within seconds.  Robotic movements are complex and normally take hours of programming by an expert to achieve the same result.

“Because we’re telling the robot such high level information in augmented reality, Southie’s AI has to figure out a lot of details on its own,” said Jay M. Wong, co-founder of Southie Autonomy. “With 5G, we can move these computationally heavy things over to the cloud and offload about 400% of CPU so we can do these complex actions at a much lower cost and without a lot of extra hardware. Traditionally, the computing power needed for even small functions would require large and heavy CPUs connected directly to the robots that would limit their movement and portability. 5G’s low latency is also key when you need to train robots in near real time to do precise automated tasks.”

The no-code interface developed by Southie enables robots to be financially justified for short batch automation tasks like kit filling and physical inspection, which is great for seasonal businesses who have different needs throughout the year.  Before Southie, robots had to be doing the same thing over and over for long periods of time to get a return on the investment.

Southie Autonomy was among the seven winners of the Verizon 5G Robotics Challenge. The challenge asked universities, startups, and other developers in the greater

Boston area to create 5G-powered robotics technologies that could transform modern industry. The winners received grant funding and were given access to Verizon’s 5G to lab to test their concepts on a live 5G network.

Stay tuned next week for another cool 5G use case from our 5G Lab in Cambridge!

Click here to learn more about Verizon’s 5G technology.

For related media inquiries, please contact Christina.moon.ashraf@verizon.com

About the author(s): 

Chris Ashraf is an external communications manager at Verizon writing about 5G and network solutions.