T-Mobile brings 5G network to robots

A conceptual rendering of the Sarcos Guardian XT robot, which will soon operate in part through T-Mobile’s 5G wireless network. (Image courtesy Sarcos Robotics)

T-Mobile is looking beyond ordinary human consumption of its 5G wireless network.

This week, the “Magenta Company” announced a new partnership with Sarcos Robotics that will see the robotics company use T-Mobile’s next-generation wireless network to power a new breed of machines.

Specifically, T-Mobile and Sarcos are partnering on a new robot called the Sarcos Guardian XT, described as a “remote-controlled robotic system designed to help humans safely work in hazardous conditions.”

The robot is expected to be deployed to work sites where certain tasks may prove too difficult or dangerous for humans to perform. The machine will be able to communicate with its handlers via T-Mobile’s 5G wireless network, which both companies say will help “improve performance and response time for remote operations, so the robots can perform tasks more quickly and more in tune with their operator’s movements.”

“We are proud to collaborate with T-Mobile, and we’ve made great progress leveraging their 5G network to enable the remote viewing management system,” Scott Hopper, the executive vice president in charge of business development at Sarcos Robotics, said in a statement. “This is a significant first step, and we’re eager to continue the development toward full 5G wireless connectivity that will unlock a variety of new capabilities, including remote tele-operation, as we prepare for commercial availability.”

Executives at T-Mobile said the partnership is proof that its 5G wireless network had practical industrial applications as well as consumer and business ones. T-Mobile’s 5G wireless network consistently ranks at or around the top of third-party reliability and availability surveys.

As part of the partnership, T-Mobile and Sarcos will buddy up on a remote viewing system for its fleet of robots that will use T-Mobile’s 5G network. Once that is done, T-Mobile and Sarcos will work on integrating 5G network compatibility for the Guardian XT robot.

Once deployed, the Sarcos Guardian XT robot will be able to perform remote tasks like welding, grinding, cutting, lifting and panel repair. The robot is operated through a “motion-capturing” vest and associated virtual reality headset, which allows “the operator to utilize their natural reflexes” in order to control the machine.

“The Sarcos Guardian XT robot requires a highly reliable, low latency 5G network that its human operators can count on,” John Saw, a T-Mobile executive in charge of advanced and emerging technologies, said in a press release. “[T-Mobile’s] 5G was designed from the ground up for industrial applications such as this and we cannot wait to further collaborate with Sarcos as they develop the next big thing in industrial robotics.”

Sarcos is based in Salt Lake City, Utah.

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