Cellular connectivity adoption has been low in the robotics industry. As industrial robots were stationary and largely confined in a factory environment, wired and WiFi connectivity were more than sufficient to cover the communication requirements. However, this is no longer the case for commercial robots that focus on mission- and business-critical applications.
Deployed in retail, last mile delivery, agriculture, construction, and mining, these robots not only are getting increasingly mobile, but also operate in highly unstructured environments and require a high level of perception, navigation, and manipulation capabilities. This report evaluates various connectivity options for outdoor settings based on their coverage, throughput, latency, cost and cloud access, and determines that 5G is the optimal solution for mobile robots in the future.
5G has several advantages. Its flexible and service based architecture will enable robotics vendors to create SLAs for their connectivity needs. As a global standard, 5G global deployment will also bring down the total cost of ownership of 5G networks and the price of 5G modem chipsets, allowing robotics developers to integrate 5G connectivity as an option. Also, the benefits of 5G go beyond connectivity, as the technology will serve as the enabler for other emerging technologies, such as Augmented Reality (AR), swarm intelligence, and massive Internet of Things (IoT) communications. These advancements will have a tremendous impact on the evolution of robotics systems moving forward.