Fivecomm, short for 5G Communications for Future Industry Verticals S.L., is an SME focusing on the use and implementation of 5G mobile technologies for industrial applications. Founded in 2019, the company is a spin-off from the iTEAM Research Institute of Universitat Politècnica de València. Today, the company has 18 employees located in Valencia, Spain. Fivecomm addresses real-world needs of the industry and enables B2B market opportunities through 5G connectivity. The activities of Fivecomm cover design, development, production, integration, validation and maintenance of systems, solutions and products that make use of 5G in public or private networks. By facilitating end-to-end integration of hardware and software, Fivecomm realises 5G use cases in industry verticals such as automotive, energy and utilities, healthcare, industry 4.0, media and entertainment, and smart cities.

Complementary to software, Fivecomm offers a portfolio of high-tech hardware, which covers a variety of IoT-empowered and 5G-driven solutions. The company’s autonomous and remote-controlled 5G mobile robot is among the most novel solutions, whose maturity as industrial use case has increased progressively since the foundation of Fivecomm. The 5G mobile robot is a next generation technology solution that, at present, is deployed mainly to serve the needs of vertical users such as factories and ports, where the movement of parts and goods by automated guided vehicles is relatively mature already. However, also conference centres, hotels, healthcare facilities and other places are starting to recognize the benefit of this solution as a social robot. We will primarily focus on the use case of the social robot in the sections below.

Case_fivecomm_mobile-robotIllustration 1: Fivecomm’s mobile robots exist in many forms that cover varying needs of different industry verticals. All solutions are nurtured by the 5G network, and one of the more recent is the social humanoid CASHU.

The incentive of Fivecomm to develop their IoT solution derives from a fundamental ambition to facilitate the adoption of the 5th generation of mobile networks. The company is truly passionate about making 5G solutions more competitive, leading to more widespread use of Next Generation technologies. This will eventually redeem the potential of the 5G network to revolutionise communication in vertical industries and, with them, all production, logistics and service processes.

In its early business days, Fivecomm spotted an increasing need for remote and autonomous control features in several use cases across different verticals. Being aware that a vital aspect in these types of use cases is the ability to reduce latency, Fivecomm hastily identified the gap in the market and took the opportunity to start developing a mobile robot with features that rely on 5G.

“The idea is that the robot mainly relies on 5G because it highly reduces the latency,
which is critical for these types of use cases.”

Manuel Fuentes, R&D Coordinator at Fivecomm

Essentially, 5G makes it possible for the robot not only to transmit data at very high speeds, but also to do massive transmissions with very low latency, or response time, enabling remote control features. Additionally, artificial intelligence (AI) allows Fivecomm to exploit the resulting huge amount of data to elicit autonomous behaviour, as well as optimise processes and improve their traceability.

Fivecomm’s mobile robot was originally developed with the intention of using it to demonstrate the potential of 5G technology; however, due to positive feedback and overwhelming interest from the users, the company eventually decided to build a business model upon the solution and commercialise the mobile robot. The solution has since then become a prime product of Fivecomm’s portfolio, and it is frequently used in 5G technology demos, for example in the Valencia Conference Center, and deployed in 5G labs, for example by Telefonica in Germany.

Due to the fast evolution of network technologies, research is a key pillar for Fivecomm, and the company collaborates with talented researchers to leverage the best practices and trends in the domain in order to continuously provide and incentivise innovative solutions for the industry.

Video: Meet Fivecomm’s 5G robot CASHU that was developed to control maximum capacity and social distance due to restrictions caused by the global COVID-19 pandemic. The robot is deployed in a 5G demo in the Valencia Conference Center.

The mobile robot offered by Fivecomm is an application provided on top of a 5G network integration as an end-to-end solution. The robot interconnects humans in any scenario by interacting in real time and providing autonomous movements in a humanoid body, and the 5G connectivity provides the capabilities to enable this application. Hence, robot and 5G integration are to be seen as a bundled industrial solution.

Embedded in the robot are several physical devices that provide the artificially intelligent abilities, such as a video camera to transmit images for environmental awareness and proximity sensors to transmit distance measures for locational awareness. An integrated 5G modem, also developed by Fivecomm, connects the robot to the network using Ethernet. Connection through both SA [1] and NSA [1] 5G networks is possible.

The robot’s 5G modem transmits the data collected by the camera and sensors to be processed either locally at the edge of the network or by a central server at Fivecomm’s control centre, which is located at the other side of the network. The purpose of centralized data processing is to enable remote control and interaction with the robot in real time. The processed data, which manifests itself as autonomy and AI features, is received by the robot’s 5G modem as control commands for the robot to move and/or elicit specific actions.

Case_fivecomm_Enabling-tachnologies-aIllustration 2: Enabling technologies for Fivecomm’s 5G robot solution.

The robot also has a tactile screen embedded, which enables users at the same location as the robot to interact with it and provide commands directly. This screen is usually used for the features of immediate control, telepresence and other on-site services, and the data retrieved here is then processed at the edge. The control centre offers a user-friendly interface as well, which can be activated remotely at any PC, tablet or smartphone to show a map of the environment of the robot, the video feed received and other information about the environment of the robot. Regardless of the interface deployed, all information is sent and received through 5G in real time.

Thanks to the extremely low-latency capacity of the 5G network, the robot is functional both in an autonomous and remotely controlled mode. It is also possible to set up a series of points for the robot to follow a specific path, and if a person or obstacle gets in the way, the robot will automatically change its path. The user may also switch between the modes and manually control the robot from a remote place and move it along any path in real time.

“This set of features depends on the needs of the specific user.
We can customise the product leading to different versions of it.”

David Martín-Sacristán, CTO at Fivecomm

The 5G robot can be adapted to the needs of the users, ranging from a social humanoid for interactive services to an operational robot for automated manufacturing, logistics and stocking processes. Hence, the physical robot and its customised functionalities, supported by the service of 5G integration, make up Fivecomm’s overall solution.

The development of Fivecomm’s 5G robot accelerates the industrial adoption of Next Generation technologies. As an exemplification of how the 5th generation of mobile networks can enhance the capabilities and potentials of IoT solutions, the robot acts as a catalyst for stimulating the transformation.

Although the commercial deployment of the solution is still in an initial and ongoing phase, Fivecomm is by this time able to see its value and impact translated into a rapidly growing demand and several incoming projects. Demos, trials and test scenarios conducted by the company have validated the market’s need for remote and autonomous control features and confirmed that many opportunities exist for the 5G mobile robot both commercially and in research projects. Furthermore, the solution has given rise to derivative valuable outcomes for Fivecomm through internal export of the technology.

“The technology and features used in this solution have been reused in other products of the company.
So, it has been like a catalyst for technology development.”
David Martín-Sacristán, CTO at Fivecomm

The 5G robot has essentially created the foundation for a new business model, enabling Fivecomm to expand their current business from being solely SaaS-based to include also a hardware product portfolio. The addition of a tangible dimension to the 5G integration service has provided visibility for Fivecomm, which has significantly increased brand awareness in the market.

Case_fivecomm_robot-mask-detection-aIllustration 3: Due to the extremely low-latency capacity of the 5G network, Fivecomm’s robots can be remotely controlled both in a manual and autonomous mode.

For users of the solution, the direct outcome is a mobile robot with a range of customised intelligent features and a fully functional 5G network.

The core feature is the autonomous and remote control of the mobile robot, enabling the user to give commands on the robot’s movement and manoeuvring from a distant location and even automate it. On top of the core feature are a range of added AI features, for example telepresence, which enables the robot to make gesture recognition, social distance control, face mask detection and much more. The set of added features may be tailored to the needs of the specific user, which leads to different versions and outcomes of the product.

The deployment of a fully functional 5G network may, in the eyes of the customer, seem like a supportive service to the mobile robot, but it is in fact the most essential component to the solution – and any forthcoming advanced technology solutions that the customer may intend to deploy. Hence, an essential outcome for the customer of Fivecomm’s solution is an investment in internal development and future survival and an initial step towards being a Next Generation business.

“We create value when we are solving the problems of our customers or simplifying their activities through our technological solutions.
In the case of 5G, latency is the key feature that makes the difference in a huge number of use cases.”

Miguel Cantero López, 5G Industrial Engineer at Fivecomm

Looking towards the future, Fivecomm strives to contribute to accelerating the adoption of the 5th generation of mobile networks by continuously implementing new and optimised features that make their products unique in the market and increase customisation to add extra value for their clients.

Case_fivecomm_remote-controlled-robotIllustration 4: Fivecomm’s 5G robot CASHU uses telepresence, camera and sensor data to detect that people comply with required face mask use, restrictions on maximum capacity and minimum social distance. In the event of breaches, AI algorithms provide alerts.

Since Fivecomm introduced their 5G mobile robot to the market, many novel IoT solutions have been adopted by the various industry verticals, and the need for 5G connectivity has become more apparent. While balancing market demand with market maturity, Fivecomm has gained many learnings along the way, some with transmissible value for other actors in the IoT ecosystem.

“We could be more proactive, but the market and the 5G deployment is not mature enough for a deep penetration.”
David Martín-Sacristán, CTO at Fivecomm

A great number of challenges and scenarios still await to be solved in the 5G network domain. Fivecomm argues that more resources could have been dedicated to developing additional features to the 5G robot; however, due to the lacking market maturity, their focus is instead directed to the quality and interplay between hardware and software. The company is confident that the solution can be a driving force in stimulating the ambition of better connecting the world.

Fivecomm considers a number of points to be vital for the success of their IoT solution. Taking departure in their 5G mobile robot and the concurrent evolution of the market, these points are compiled into a list of recommendations below:

1. Build market relationships and adapt solutions accordingly

Fivecomm has been involved in numerous projects over the years that have allowed them to collaborate with potential users and customers, and the company therefore highly recommends prioritizing building solid relationships with the market actors, as it provides an entry point to testing one’s solution in real market scenarios and an ability to adapt one’s solution to the needs of the market.

“From our experience during this last year, we have seen that the clients have different needs and therefore it translates into different solutions that we need to develop.”
Manuel Fuentes, R&D Coordinator at Fivecomm

One recent example is the COVID-19 pandemic. Fivecomm has used this market event to guide their development by responding to increasing demand for solutions to perform mask detection, social distance control, temperature control, etc. The social robot has received a lot of commercial interest, and Fivecomm now sees possibilities to grow to other markets due to the solution. In general, COVID-19 has resulted in a higher interest in automation, remote monitoring and other functionalities that help to run various industrial operations in an unattended way.

2. Infuse customisation

Clients of IoT solutions have different needs, and from experience, Fivecomm therefore points out a necessity to provide, not just different, but individualized solutions. This is the motive that drove the company to develop a flexible product that can be customised to any use case. The choice to offer customised products has opened up new markets and business opportunities.

“Success came when we were able to adapt the solution to different customers.
Therefore, we learned that this adaptation could be one of our key added values.”

David Martín-Sacristán, CTO at Fivecomm

3. Leverage ecosystem partners

Fivecomm raises the significance of collaborating with ecosystem partners to co-create value. Robotics manufacturing, mobile network operations and AI feature incorporation are some of the synergies formed by the company to realise the 5G robot. Also the partaking in large European projects and small private projects have been essential for the company to run pilots, collaborate with end-users and identify potential markets.

“At the end, we need them for making use of the entire spectrum and infrastructure.”
David Martín-Sacristán, CTO at Fivecomm

At the core of the ecosystem, not to forget, Fivecomm points towards their widely experienced and qualified team that they consider one of the company’s main achievements.

4. Create solutions that are different

Bring value to the market by offering solutions that use novel technology to create new functionalities. Essentially, Fivecomm advises IoT innovators to try to be different. There is fierce competition in the IoT market, but at the same time, there is a huge emerging potential.

“If you have a different product, something that is useful for the customers, there is going to be a place for you.”
David Martín-Sacristán, CTO at Fivecomm

One final recommendation from Fivecomm to the learners and innovators that seek to achieve success with IoT-empowered solutions is to tap into the 5G trend.

“There is a general interest in 5G technologies and related products.
It is a technology that is giving people plenty to talk about, and this will for sure continue in the future.”

Manuel Fuentes, R&D Coordinator at Fivecomm

Case_fivecomm_DMATIllustration 5: Digital Maturity Radar Chart: Assessment of Fivecomm by David Martín-Sacristán, CTO.

Fivecomm assumes a high level of digital maturity with an overall score of 4.08. The score indicates that the digital capabilities of the company are vastly mature, and that they perform above average for the sector.

The Digital Maturity Assessment Tool is copyrighted by Associate Professor and PhD Annabeth Aagaard, Director at the Interdisciplinary Centre for Digital Business Development, Aarhus University. To get the digital maturity of your company mapped out, click here.

[1] NSA (Non-Stand Alone) and SA (Stand Alone): the two major 5G deployment alternatives defined by 3GPP (global initiative creating standards for mobile networks). NSA is built over an existing 4G network, whereas SA allows completely independent operation of a 5G service without any interaction with an existing 4G core.

Source of origin: Information to document this use case originates  from the H2020 call: ICT-56-2020 Next Generation Internet of Things (RIA); Project INGENIOUS 957216; Period: 01-11-2020 to 31-03-2023; EC contribution 8 mil. EUR.


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