In a world that revolves around data, the need for robust, reliable, and fast communication methods is ever-growing. Especially with the future of 5G mobile communication systems, this need is defined by the ability to host high data rates. Naturally then, robots, who must continuously be in communication with either a human operator or a central network system, have been a natural nexus for research and development in this field. One such communication system, millimeter-wave (mmWave) which is a set of frequency bands (24-300GHz) being used for 5G, however, is still encountering significant integration challenges that hinder full-scale deployment.

A team from the 5G/Unmanned Vehicle Research Center at Hanyang University is interested in developing a 5G communication testbed equipped with novel and efficient beam tracking/management algorithms. With this testbed prototype, they are conducting a demonstration study of beam management which is recognized as an essential technique to ensure robust communication links in mmWave communications. Using Jackal UGV, their goal was to construct a complete mmWave communication system testbed prototype, then successfully demonstrate how well the location-aided beam alignment approach works in practice, and publish the results of their works in the IEEE Communications Magazine.

How To Create Strong Communication Links with mmWave

mmWave wireless communication has recently received attention with telecommunications companies promising large-scale rollouts such as T-Mobile, Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, Apple, Samsung, Huawei, Ericsson, Nokia, Qualcomm, Bell, and so on. The main advantage of using mmWave bands is the large spectral channels which enable high data rate communications. However, these mmWave bands suffer from relatively severe propagation and penetration losses which impair communication performance. To provide sufficient link margin, directional phased array antennas, with high directional beams are usually used. Therefore, careful beam management becomes essential in mmWave communications to ensure strong communication links. Various studies on this issue have been reported to develop advanced beam management approaches.

A recent challenge is to develop advanced beam management approaches with low latency and reduced signaling overhead for further supporting high mobility scenarios such as vehicle-to-everything, high-speed train, and unmanned aerial vehicle communications. However, many studies verify their research by only using simulations. The Hanyang University team believes that experimental demonstration through field trials is essential in realizing and approving devised algorithm concepts as implementing a complete real-time mmWave system testbed would be a difficult challenge.

“Not only did Jackal UGV provide a quick out-of-the-box ready solution so that our team could focus on their communication system testing, but the platform’s ROS capabilities were incredibly vital for enabling remote control operation from a wireless controller via Bluetooth sensors.”

Jihoon Bang, 5G/Unmanned Vehicle Research Center

Jackal UGV Provides Consistency and Stability

Jackal UGV was key in providing a robust solution for the team’s testing purposes. The receiver on the 5G communication testbed was deployed on Jackal UGV to move at a constant pace of 0.42[m/s] and along predefined paths. While in motion, the transmitter on the testbed radiates a beam pattern towards the direction calculated by multilateration – a technique used to estimate the location of a wireless emitter based on the time of arrival of energy waves. Three sensors are used to achieve this, namely a 5G communication testbed, UWB localization, and WLAN. Through WLAN, Jackal UGV can be controlled wirelessly via remote PC control. Using UWB localization, the position of the receiver can be calculated, which helps the transmitter maintain communication fidelity.

So, for the purpose of the team’s project, Jackal UGV autonomously navigates along the predefined path and at the right pace to help the transmitter track the receiver correctly and maintain the high communication fidelity. This approach ultimately allowed for greater reliability and precision. Without a robotic platform at hand, the team would have resorted to manually pushing the carts piled up with testbeds, which can be quite inconsistent and thus unreliable.

Not only did Jackal UGV provide a quick out-of-the-box ready solution so that the Hanyang University team could focus on their communication system testing, but the platform’s ROS capabilities were incredibly vital for enabling remote control operation from a wireless controller via Bluetooth sensors.

As the Hanyang University team continues with their research, they aim to reinforce their work with more realistic evidence from experiments including driving vehicles on the road. Additionally, they plan to develop a more complete testbed that fully complies with the 5G new radio standard.

The project team from the 5G/Unmanned Vehicle Research Center consists of Jihoon Bang, Hyeonjin Chung, Junyeol Hong, Hyeongwook Seo, Seungwoo Baek, Hanvit Kim, Prof. Jaehoon Choi, and Prof. Sunwoo Kim.

To learn more about the 5G/Unmanned Vehicle Research Center, visit their website here.

To learn more about Jackal UGV, visit our website here.

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