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Ava Robotics Innovation in Verizon 5G Robotics Challenge

Ava Robotics was one of five start-up teams to win a place in the MassTLC 5G Robotics Challenge sponsored by Verizon and Ericsson. This challenge was the first of its kind and provided the winning teams access to 5G resources and coaching to explore how the power of the network can be leveraged in robotics. At the end of the challenge period, the five teams demonstrated their work at an event at the Verizon’s 5G Lab in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

As the newest generation of wireless networks, 5G provides reduced latency and better data throughput and reliability, allowing data to be transmitted and stored much more quickly. As Joshua Ness, the senior manager of Verizon 5G Labs, said at the Robotics Summit in June, “you’re not limited by distance to the cloud.” 5G is also much faster than 4G. Reports have shown that 5G can run anywhere from 10 to even 100 times faster than its predecessor.

For the 5G Robotics Challenge, our team explored the capabilities of 5G by moving all the software intelligence of Ava from its on-board processors to Verizon's Mobile Edge Compute. All sensor data was sent to the edge of the network over 5G, where the Ava "remote" software made all navigation and collision avoidance decisions for the onsite robot. Movement commands were sent from the edge of the network directly to the robot's motors.

To make the 5G Robotics Challenge project even more impactful, we decided to build a new concept robot for the competition. For the 5G Demo Day, our facilities assistant robot greeted visitors at the reception area of the Verizon 5G Lab, and ushered them to the meeting room they were coming to visit.

Though 5G is still rolling out, the future is bright. We thank Verizon, Ericsson and MassTLC for giving us the opportunity to participate in the Robotics Challenge. 

Read more about the 5G Robotics Challenge on The Robot Report.

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