Bosch expands partnership with Nokia on 6G and IoT for Industry 4.0

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Sheila Zabeu -

March 06, 2023

While most of the population and businesses are still thinking about how to adopt 5G technology into their routines, Nokia and Bosch are already working on Research & Development around the future 6G standard. The two companies announced during the Mobile World Congress held recently in Barcelona, Spain, that they will expand the alliance signed in 2017 focused on creating industrial IoT solutions with 5G to now also address the new 6G standard still under development.

“6G will be much more than just an infrastructure for connectivity; it will greatly increase the efficiency of autonomous cars, smart cities and connected industries. That’s why 6G is a strategically important technology field,” says Andreas Müller, who bundles and manages 6G activities at Bosch. The company is investing “several million euros in 6G R&D” and currently has around 40 professionals working on the initiatives. According to the executive, this number should double in the next two years.

A Bosch está contribuindo com seu conhecimento e experiência em cinco projetos com financiamento público. Três deles se concentram principalmente na integração da comunicação e no reconhecimento de ambientes usando sensores. Além de abordar cenários relevantes para tráfego rodoviário, os resultados obtidos servirão, em particular, como fundamentos técnicos para aplicações na Indústria 4.0 (por exemplo, para sistemas de transporte sem motorista), bem como no domínio de drones conectados. Outros dois projetos se concentram em novas estruturas de conectividade e se destinam a aumentar a eficiência de futuras arquiteturas E/E (Elétrica/Eletrônica) em veículos ou células robóticas.

Bosch also claims to be taking a leading role in the initial discussions and activities relating to future mobile communication standards in various industry alliances. In the 5G Automotive Association (5GAA), for example, companies from the automotive and telecommunications sectors are working together to develop mobility solutions. The 5G Alliance for Connected Industries and Automation (5GACIA) brings together industrial companies focused on connectivity for machinery and equipment.

More about Nokia

With NTT Docomo and NTT, Nokia announced other important advances related to the 6G standard. The companies have implemented Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning system in the air interface, giving 6G radios the ability to learn. The second advance has to do with the use of the new sub-terahertz (sub-THz) spectrum to substantially increase the capacity of the networks.

By pairing an AI-learned waveform in a transmitter with a receiver using deep learning, researchers from Nokia Bell Labs, Docomo and NTT have succeeded in designing and implementing an air interface that efficiently transmits data in many scenarios. This implementation based on Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning considerably reduces the overhead related to signals, generating a gain of up to 30% in throughput.

In addition, the native air interface with AI capabilities will give 6G networks the flexibility to adapt to the type of connection required by applications, devices or users. For example, a network in a factory can be optimised for industrial sensors at one time and then reconfigured for robotic or video surveillance systems.

Sub-THz bands (100 GHz and above), on the other hand, have never been designated for use in cellular networks because of their propagation characteristics, but new techniques such as beamforming may open up these frequencies for future 6G networks. They are suitable for high-precision radio sensing, which is likely to be another important application of the 6G standard. Sub-THz bands will not only improve the overall capacity of 6G networks, but will also support future bandwidth-intensive applications that require multi-gigabit connections.

Why do we want 6G?

The next generation 6G mobile communication will integrate new functionalities similar to radar sensors. It will be possible to detect the position of objects within the coverage area of networks, without them needing to be equipped with a radio module. The new standard will also offer extremely high data transfer rates of up to one terabit per second, with very low latency of 100 microseconds.

For Bosch, with the help of digital twins, the 6G standard will, for example, allow real manufacturing processes to be monitored and simulated in a virtual universe without time and space constraints.

In recent months, Germany and Europe have launched numerous 6G projects aimed at strengthening their technological sovereignty. The German government, through the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), will provide around €700 million to fund 6G initiatives. In addition, the European Union budget will allocate around €900 million until 2027. The United States and Japan have launched a joint R&D initiative totalling $4.5 billion. With a share of 40.3%, China is leading the race for patents in the area of 6G registered worldwide, mainly in the infrastructure segment, with the majority owned by the company Huawei.