BELAZ unmanned dump trucks, which are among the biggest in the world, have begun working at a test site in the town of Zhodino in Belarus using 5G. The test zone has been created by infrastructure operator beCloud, BELAZ and VIST Group (part of ZYFRA Group). A test autonomous beCloud network using fifth generation technologies, working in conjunction with the LTE-Advanced Pro network, has been deployed at the BELAZ plant. This is a prototype of the future 5G network.
Sets of equipment that meet the technical specifications of the 5G standard have being installed on two heavy trucks — a pit dump truck and a loader. The standard technologies used (New Radio and LTE-Advanced Pro) have enabled VIST Group technicians to test unmanned vehicle control, as well as the operation of dump trucks in robot mode (the Intelligent Mine project).
For autonomous vehicles, a system that scans and analyses the nuances of the geological situation should transmit information with a minimal delay time. The beCloud specialists have now managed to reduсe the response time of the equipment to 10-11 ms (milliseconds), which is less than the achieved in the 4G network but more than expected in future 5G networks. beCloud experts are continuing to fine-tune the equipment and optimise communication channels to achieve the best performance.
“5G is not just an accelerated version of 4G, but a serious technological leap for decades to come. Strictly speaking, 5G is not only a new set of frequencies, but an integrated platform that exploits the capabilities of wireless networks much more efficiently,” said Mikhail Duka, Deputy General Director for Telecommunications at beCloud. “Three years ago, beCloud was the first company in the country to launch 4G LTE Advanced. Today, through this unique partnership with BELAZ Corporation, we are demonstrating the new reality that is steadily developing on the basis of 4G and will come to fruition thanks to 5G. Minimum signal delays, high bandwidth, energy efficiency, and a flexible 5G technology interface will shape our immediate future in the world of technology,” he added.
Testing of fifth generation technology will assess its capabilities for effective application in the field of engineering and unmanned vehicles. The plan is to create a technological solution that operates successfully on an industrial scale.
The BELAZ robotic dump trucks are the key element of the Intelligent Mine project, which is being implemented by the Russian company VIST Group at enterprises in the mining industry. The project involves unmanned robotic dump trucks, cargo transport and high-precision satellite navigation technologies. This is a set of digital technologies for the management of open-pit production processes based on robotic loading and transport systems, as well as industry solutions in the fields of the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence and predictive analytics.
The minimal presence of people at the mining site boosts the efficiency and safety of the operations, including in remote regions, and helps to compensate for the shortage of qualified personnel. The project also aims to reduce fuel and operating costs.
“IT technologies are not standing still. Yesterday we operated on the basis of 4G standards, and today we have already tested the work of a robotic pit complex in the totally new 5G standard. Our dump trucks are equipped with hundreds of sensors that generate terabytes of information per year, enabling us to monitor the truck’s performance anywhere on the planet. In the future this will be impossible without 5G. Very soon, big data, analytics and machine learning technologies will enable us to offer customers completely new smart services for more efficient operation of mining dump trucks, forecasting and vehicle maintenance upon demand rather than on the basis of regulations,” said Alexander Botvinnik, Assistant General Director for Information Technologies at OJSC BELAZ.
According to its joint agreements with BELAZ, beCloud will apply the most advanced 5G technologies currently available at the Zhodino testing ground. The next stage of testing of 5G technologies in the field of engineering and mineral extraction is the creation of an autonomous test network at a functioning open pit.