BT inaugurated its Digital Industries Innovation Hub at its Adastral Park research facility in Suffolk, which will provide the opportunity for organizations across a variety of sectors to innovate and collaborate with technology partners, industry bodies, and academic institutions.
The new hub was launched during yesterday’s BT Robotics Festivalat which the telco highlighted its plans to support Industry 4.0 development.
Darren Lewis, Head of Applied Innovation at BT, said the hub is “all about collaboration”. It aims to enable partnerships in verticals such as logistics, manufacturing, ports, and transport — and a Robot Highways smart agriculture project, in collaboration with academic bodies such as the University of Lincoln and University of Reading, was flagged as an example of its ambitions.
Partnerships employed at BT’s Health Innovation Hub have so far not only been between industry players, but with institutions and trusts, such as Barts Health National Health Service Trust. BT described its Health Innovation Hub in a similar manner to that of its Digital Industries sister hub, calling it a”collaboration space for organizations across health and social care to innovate and co-create solutions with technology partners”. Its long-term aims are aligned with those of the NHS, using digital health solutions to reduce pressure on emergency hospital services, managing data security, and providing improved care standards for individuals with major health conditions.
BT clearly sees the role of 5G as key, with many of the newly unveiled digital industry solutions requiring stable, advanced 5G technology. Maria Cuevas, Networks Research Director at BT’s Applied Research, asserted that “connectivity is so much more than sending information from A to B; it’s actually about augmenting the capabilities of anything that you’re connecting to the network”.
Cuevas also detailed how much of the innovations in robotics and drone technology will benefit from advanced 5G — an area of focus for BT Enterprise’s solutions and services unit Division X and BT Digital’s innovation wing Etc.
When questioned on the place of 6G in such solutions, Cuevas said there was no need to wait for such a development, claiming that BT will “use the right technology for the right purpose”.
A variety of newly unveiled robots require low-latency connectivity solutions in order to operate in real time. Many machines designed to support civil engineering projects resembled mammals and insects, with a wind turbine repair bot modeled on a squirrel, for instance. The remotely controlled squirrel robot can implement fixes without halting the operation of a turbine, which is just one instance of innovations fulfilling the business outcomes of productivity, efficiency, and flexibility discussed by Division X Managing Director Marc Overton.
Speaking during the Connecting for Good keynote, Overton stated that “what you’re seeing with robotics and autonomous systems is that it increases your ability and your safety — especially using robots in hazardous environments”, praising how innovations could boost “flexibility between human–machine teaming, and how that becomes more efficient”.