Network equipment giant Ericsson has begun a trial with U.K. vehicle battery manufacturer Hyperbat to use virtual reality (VR), digital twin technology and 5G communications to further Industry 4.0.
The trials will see Hyperbat, which is a joint venture between Williams Advanced Engineering and Unipart, virtually walk around and interact with 3D life-sized objects in real-time through a single self-contained device. Digital twin technology is a digital representation of a physical object that is viewed through a digital interface, such as VR glasses. Hyperbat will use VR to cooperate on a 3D engineering blueprint from various locations to impact physical products at the company’s production factory.
Employees in different locations will be able to build a 1:1 scale physical product on the factory floor, review designs in real time, explore form factors such as maintenance and crash detection of an electric vehicle and retrofit high-performance batteries into specific dimensions. Ericsson’s 5G mobile private network deployed by BT will be used to enable this trial with its high speed, low latency and capability to handle large data transfers.
Ericsson said the technology could transform the traditional manufacturing process through gains in product management systems, supply chain and factory operations.
“5G will have a transformative impact in the industries and technologies of the future,” said Björn Odenhammar, CTO of networks and managed services at Ericsson. “This collaboration with BT, Hyperbat and other eco-system partners is another demonstration of how low latency, edge compute and wireless networking will be critical to digitalization within the enterprise sector. By delivering operational efficiencies through 5G technology, we are laying a foundation that can help to drive innovation in manufacturing, boost the economy and position the U.K. as a leading 5G nation.”
The BT and Ericsson 5G VR digital twin operation will be deployed on a 5G mobile private network using Qualcomm’s 5G native VR headset and Masters of Pie platform. This allows Hyperbat to use cloud-based mixed reality within computer-aided design (CAD) software. The platform will run on Dell’s edge compute platform including hardware from Nvidia that will be integrated into existing factory floor operations.