Network effect: Strong robot gets 5G upgrade

New collaboration highlights importance of 5G to future of robotics.
Written by Greg Nichols, Contributing Writer

As 5G rollouts quicken, we're seeing the first hints of the new capabilities the network will bring to robots. The latest example comes by way of a just-announced collaboration between Sarcos Robotics, which makes robots that augment humans to enhance productivity and safety, and T-Mobile.

The agreement will integrate T-Mobile 5G into the Sarcos Guardian XT highly dexterous mobile industrial robot. 

"We are proud to collaborate with T-Mobile and we've made great progress leveraging their 5G network to enable the remote viewing management system," said Scott Hopper, Executive Vice President of Corporate and Business Development, Sarcos Robotics. "This is a significant first step and we're eager to continue the development toward full 5G wireless connectivity that will unlock a variety of new capabilities, including remote teleoperation, as we prepare for commercial availability."

This is part of an evolving story about Sarcos' plans for teleoperated systems. Last month I covered the rollout of the company's SenSuit controller garment, which enables users to control the Guardian XT, which looks like a robot version of a human torso and arms, to accomplish precision tasks and perform work in unstructured environments, spaces that could soon include construction and mining. The SenSuit controller incorporates a headset and utilizes natural human movement as control inputs.

But when it comes to delicate industrial tasks and operating a massively powerful robot remotely, the network is key. That's where 5G comes in, and it's a good illustration of where robotics is headed. The new collaboration begins with the integration of 5G to develop a remote viewing system powered by T-Mobile's high bandwidth, low latency 5G network. In the next phase, the companies will include full 5G wireless integration to allow for seamless and near-instantaneous control of the XT.

"The Sarcos Guardian XT robot requires a highly reliable, low latency 5G network that its human operators can count on," said John Saw, EVP of Advanced & Emerging Technologies at T-Mobile. "5G was designed from the ground up for industrial applications such as this and we cannot wait to further collaborate with Sarcos as they develop the next big thing in industrial robotics."

Sarcos, which we've been tracking closely, is on a bit of a tear lately. The company recently announced that it will become publicly listed through a merger transaction with Rotor Acquisition Corp., a publicly-traded special purpose acquisition company.

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