05-03-2021 | | By Sam Brown
The Small Robot Company has recently announced that it will team up with the 5G RuralDorset Project to demonstrate how 5G technologies will help farms of the future. Why is 5G a good candidate for rural internet, what does the Small Robot Company develop, and how will agricultural robots help the environment?
There is no doubt that economic development and internet technologies are linked; the better an internet connection an area has, the more economic development it has. Of course, simply laying down a high-speed connection to the middle of nowhere won’t create a rich city out of anywhere. It still requires people to live in the area and have the ability to take advantage of the connection.
Rural areas out in the countryside are notorious for having poor internet connectivity, resulting from the high cost of cable installation that no telecoms company wants to take on for the few customers it would provide for. As a result, rural areas are often deprived of the latest internet technologies with some areas having internet speeds slower than 4Mbps (512KB/s).
One solution that would fix the rural internet problem in cellular networks such as 5G. Unlike traditional internet infrastructure, cellular networks can be used to provide broadband internet to homes and businesses wirelessly. While 4G can provide this, 5G offers a better solution due to its higher bandwidth, increase simultaneous device count, and lower latency.
Cellular networks are limited in range, but considering that 3 masts could be configured as repeaters stretching over 60KM in length, the cost of such an installation would be far lower (and more easily maintained), than a fibre-optic cable of equivalent length (remember the cable requires to be buried in privately owned land).
Recognising the advantages of 5G cellular communication, a project has been created called the 5G RuralDorset Project that aims to explore 5G technology and how it can be used to provide internet connectivity to the most remote places in the UK.
According to the project, 5G can offer high-speed internet capabilities for remote locations and help to protect areas designated for protection as a result of their heritage or environment. Furthermore, protected remote areas (such as the Dorset coastline), cannot have large-scale industrial projects to lay communication cable. The resulting poor internet access can result in emergency services struggling during times of crises.
The project has already raised over £7 million in funding (of which the UK government has provided £4,581,196) and aims to improve agricultural businesses and rural businesses.
The Small Robot Company is a start-up company in the UK that is developing agricultural robots to help automate the agricultural industry. One of the start-up's major goals is to help create a sustainable farming industry using environmentally friendly methods for cultivating and watering crops while using mechanical and electric methods for the destruction of weeds.
Their robotic systems include Tom, a curious robot that can work on up to 20 hectares a day, and Dick, the weeder, can eliminate weeds identified by Tom (who also helps improve the AI system that controls both robots).
However, such robotic systems require the use of internet technologies, and rural environments rarely have access to the infrastructure needed for these robotic systems. As such, the Small Robotic Company has teamed up with the 5G RuralDorset Project to explore the use of 5G in their robots. According to news reports, the joining of SRC with the 5G RuralDorset Project will help to develop optimised 5G systems for agricultural technologies.
If successful, the combination of the 5G project to improve rural communities with robotic systems could not only drastically improve farming techniques, it could also help to reduce environmental damage by removing the need for pesticides, insecticides, and herbicides.