AT&T participated in a U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) and U.S. Navy demonstration showcasing a variety of 5G-powered technology solutions that can support the enablement of a Naval “Smart Warehouse.”
The demonstrations occurred at Naval Base Coronado in San Diego where the smart warehouse concept is being explored by DoD. AT&T’s private 5G network at the base delivered data throughput speeds of 3.9 gigabits per second with less than 10 milliseconds of latency when powering the demonstrations.
Why is this important? In October 2020, the Department of Defense (DoD) announced $600 million in awards for 5G experimentation and testing at five U.S. military test sites, representing the largest full-scale 5G tests for dual-use applications in the world. DOD seeks to remain at the forefront of cutting-edge 5G testing and experimentation to strengthen our Nation’s warfighting capabilities as well as U.S. economic competitiveness in this critical field.
The 5G Smart Warehouse project at Naval Base Coronado is the DoD program’s use-case incorporating 5G capabilities for transshipments between shore facilities and naval units. The goal is to increase the efficiency and fidelity of naval logistic operations including identification, recording, organization, storage, retrieval, and the transportation of materiel and supplies.
AT&T’s 5G network offers DoD the ability to scale its 5G-enabled smart warehouse solution and supports global access for DoD users via roaming capabilities used with AT&T’s network infrastructure. This allows DoD to benefit from AT&T’s commercial investments in its network and avoid costly additional network builds.
What 5G solutions were demonstrated? The solutions demonstrated at the event focused on the 5G Radio Access Network and its optimization of warehouse operations via increased throughput of data, internet of things (IoT) support, and low latency. Among the prototype use cases demonstrated were:
5G-enabled VR/AR capabilities to support military training and operations
The Naval Information Warfare Center-Pacific showcased its Battlespace Exploitation of Mixed Reality (BEMR) laboratory to demonstrate how 5G-enabled virtual and augmented reality can be applied to military training, maintenance, prototyping applications as well as operations.
5G-powered high-definition video surveillance
A 5G-powered high-definition video surveillance demonstration showcased the ease of use and quick integration of an IP camera connected to the AT&T private 5G network at the warehouse to deliver high-definition streaming and direct access to any camera placed on the private network to support video surveillance.
Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning use cases that use AT&T 5G in a cloud environment.
An Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) solution demonstrated the possibilities of extending AI and ML from the cloud to the network’s edge using the high throughput and low latency capabilities of 5G. A pre-trained model was created to showcase real-time recognition and classification of polyvinyl chloride “elbows” with varying degrees that were placed on a moving conveyor belt. The camera was trained to recognize different objects and update a database with the type and number of parts it recognized. The solution also collects metrics and KPIs and displays them on a dashboard for monitoring and managing operations.
5G-enabled AR to support advanced put/pick technology operated via a hands-free mobile device
A 5G-connected, advanced put/pick technology solution using Augmented Reality (AR) was demonstrated. The solution was operated with a hands-free mobile device and it proved the ability to support increased accuracy while reducing put/pick processing times. It is expected this mobile device technology eventually will be integrated with robotic materiel movers, smart storage devices, and optimization algorithms to further enhance warehouse efficiencies and improve current metrics.
Zero Trust Architecture cybersecurity support
Demonstrators showcased a suite of cybersecurity tools that support the network security architecture with the use of micro-segmentation encryption to provide confidentiality and privacy for the Navy 5G Smart Warehouse network.
Amanda Toman, acting Principal Director of 5G-NextG, Office of the Under Secretary of Defense, Research & Engineering, said, “This is a key example of organizations coming together in a collaborative environment with our Armed Forces to explore the art of the possible in 5G. “We’re not just building for the warfighter; we are also innovating with the American citizen in mind. DoD is working to accelerate the development and deployment of 5G-enabled capabilities across many use cases while ensuring those systems — as well as those of our allies and partners — are robust, protected, and reliable.”
Lance Spencer, Client Executive Vice President – Defense, AT&T Public Sector and FirstNet, commented, “The AT&T 5G-powered solution we’ve delivered at Naval Base Coronado is a first of its kind, high-performance, highly secure, and scalable private network solution. We expect it will serve as the foundation for improved efficiency, timeliness, accuracy, security, and safety of Naval warehouse operations.”