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Car and Driver: Ericsson Shows Off Future 5G Wireless Using Remote-Controlled Volvo Excavator

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Ericsson remote Volvo digger 5G

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You know those times when you walk past something, and you have to do a double take because you can’t possibly be seeing what you’re seeing? Strolling through the non-automotive section of the Consumer Electronics Show last week, we came across wireless provider Ericsson’s booth. Here we found what looked like the chair, foot pedals, and control sticks from a Volvo digger placed before a screen showing . . . a real-life Volvo digger parked outside, clearly somewhere outside of Ericsson’s display. It couldn’t be remote-controlled, could it?

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Ericsson remote Volvo digger 5G

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Our inner child going nuts at this point, we grabbed an Ericsson representative and demanded he validate our deepest hopes. He did. The setup, in conjunction with an Oculus Rift virtual-reality headset being fed a 360-degree view from inside a real Volvo digger, remotely operates that real digger’s shovel and can drive the equipment around. Making this all possible is Ericsson’s still-under-development 5G cellular connection.

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Ericsson remote Volvo digger 5G

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Making the trick all the more impressive was the digger being located in Plano, Texas. We were in the Las Vegas Convention Center. Moving your head around while wearing the Oculus Rift goggles around afforded a view from within the digger so quickly that we couldn’t perceive any lag. Of course, we wanted to try the remote-control digger for ourselves, and we could have, but the system’s realism had earlier that day turned against it. Users, not realizing the remote-digger interface wascontrolling a real digger, blew some of the dozer’s hydraulics. As the Ericsson rep put it, “people thought it was a toy,” and thus weren’t gentle on the controls.

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Ericsson remote Volvo digger 5G

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The future may or may not have remotely operated construction equipment, but it most certainly will have ultra-fast 5G wireless data speeds, and Ericsson’s ultra-cool demo has us eager to embrace next-generation wireless. The experiment also bodes well for Volvo’s plans with Ericsson for streaming high-definition video into cars. Wouldn’t it be a trip, though, if you could remotely control another vehicle from your self-driving vehicle in the future? Say, lap Laguna Seca while you’re on your morning commute?
-2016 Consumer Electronics Show

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