Drones and self driving cars: a European 5G exclusive in Groningen

With 5Groningen, an initiative by the Economic Board Groningen, the northern part of the province will be transformed into a testing ground for innovation. Starting next year, entrepreneurs, 5G experts, students and other talent, will start testing new and innovative applications for the lightning fast mobile network.

5G is the successor of the 4G network, making it the newest generation of mobile communication. 5G is a lot faster and more reliable, able to send more data and is a lot easier on battery consumption. So how much faster is it? A lot actually! The new network is 10 to possibly a 100 times faster than 4G. And the network lag or delay is also many times smaller.

A testing ground for lightning fast internet

Thanks to 5G’s ultra fast and reliable data traffic, a lot more previously unthinkable applications are now possible. More and more home appliances will be connected to the internet and controlled from a distance. It will also be possible to transmit data from sensors and other measuring equipment live and also monitor them from a distance.

Because of the lightning fast data transmissions, it will for example be possible to conduct surgery using robotic arms, controlled from a distance. With the 5Groningen initiative, the Economic Board Groningen wants to turn the transform the northern agrarian countryside into a testing ground for innovation, giving entrepreneurs the opportunity to test their creative ideas in real life situations.

5Groningen, 5 themes

This level of testing was previously done in only urban settings, but 5Groningen will change that. The Fieldlabs in the more rural areas are the first of its kind in Europe. In 2017, the first phase of the project will start, with extensive testing and perfecting of all kinds of new applications in the coming years.

The applications and prototypes will have to revolve around 5 themes: Agriculture, Health, Energy, Traffic & Logistics and Habitat. Specially designated teams around each theme will develop these applications with different workshops and brainstorm sessions.

These teams will consist of a maximum of 9 people and are multidisciplinary in nature, like local entrepreneurs, 5G experts and also technology enthusiasts. The teams will work closely with project partners like the Telecom Agency, Ericsson, the Hanze University, Huawei, KPN, SURF, Vodafone and the University of Groningen.

Better fertilization using drones

Hanze student and entrepreneur Wilco Stollenga will be one of the first lucky few to start experimenting with the new mobile network in 2017. In May this year he received the Audience Choice Award of the Anner Awards for student entrepreneurs, with his company AgriFly. Using autonomous drones fitted with sensors, Stollenga’s company measures the biomass of crops, making it easy to see which crops are growing faster than others. Farmers can use this data to see whether their crops receive too little fertilizer, or too much.

Using the lightning fast new network will make things a lot easier for Agrifly, because the drones collect a whopping 20 gigabytes of data in a single flight. Using the old network, it would take about 10 hours to process all of that information, but using the 5G network, all of the processing can be done during the flight. The scan will be complete the moment the drone has landed.

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