Ericsson, Volvo CE and Telia launch industrial 5G network for remote-controlled operations

A man operates a wheel loader remotely from Volvo CE's testing facility. (Volvo CE)

Ericsson has partnered with Volvo Construction Equipment (CE) and mobile operator Telia Company to launch an industrial 5G network in Sweden. Ericsson has supplied hardware and software from its 5G platform, including 5G NR and core products. The network is being operated through a testing license for 5G at Volvo CE’s R&D facility in Eskilstuna, 90 miles west of Stockholm.

Volvo CE, which is a subsidiary of Volvo Group, is using the network to test remote-controlled construction machinery and other fully automated solutions. Volvo CE will test remote control operations for wheel loaders, as well as Volvo CE’s HX2 load carrier, an autonomous battery-electric load carrier Volvo CE first unveiled in 2017.

Automation and remote-controlled operations are gaining ground in industries such as construction and mining, promising more efficient production and logistics, greater flexibility and increased safety for workers. They require real-time data relay and quick response times for high precision maneuvers, which could be handled by 5G networks.

“Automation has several levels, and having 5G is an important technical support to enable us to drive development in this area,” said Melker Jernberg, president of Volvo CE, in a statement.

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Ericsson has been working in the autonomous vehicle space for a few years now, and recently held an autonomous driver demo in Las Vegas at CES. Ericsson is also supporting the installation of an autonomous electric transportation (AET) system in Sweden with Telia and transport company Einride. Telia has held a number of 5G demos across parts of Europe, including Sweden, Finland and Estonia. It launched what it called a “pre-commercial” 5G network in Helsinki in 2018, ahead of a full-scale commercial operation slated for 2019.

Anders Olsson, CEO of Telia Sweden, said he’s seeing “considerable” industry interest in 5G networks.

“To connect business-critical machines and vehicles requires a solution that is able to handle the massive amounts of data with guaranteed connection,” Olsson said in a statement. “That is what 5G can give us.”