Tag Archive for: best practice

Lapland Robotics – Best practice at Lapland University

Lapland Robotics is a cooperative project between the Lapland University of Applied Sciences and the University of Lapland. The project’s goal is to integrate robots, artificial intelligence, and digital twins into Lapland’s low-carbon society while also greatly increasing the region’s innovative capability in the creation of low-carbon and energy-efficient processes, goods, and services. The project’s overall cost is 583,000 euros, with the Federation of Lapland providing 466,401 euros in financing from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the state

The objective of the project is to link diverse players, implement experiments with robots, artificial intelligence, and digital twins that are tailored to the demands of SMEs, and determine the operational models and scaling potential required by these solutions. The project will provide Lapland’s SMEs with novel information on how to promote responsibility, new business, material efficiency, and energy efficiency using robots, artificial intelligence, and digital twins. This makes Lapland’s higher education institutions even more competitive in R&D activities in the subject area, both nationally and globally, allowing for the long-term internationalization of firms.

The project investigates the viability of robots, artificial intelligence, and digital twins as a cooperation platform by bringing together various actors from technology firms as users of solutions. The project investigates the present state of technology and service models and develops a strategy for deploying diverse technologies in various industries. The project will put robots, artificial intelligence, and digital twins to the test in the field, laboratories, small-scale proof-of-concept settings, and 5G environments. The project produces open information about unmanned robot prototypes, which are tested in field situations in collaboration with corporations and users.

One of the robot prototypes developed within the project was the “mini ATV robot, which was designed and built during the Lapland Robotics project. Its construction included 3D modeling and an automated driving test, which guarantees its functionality and safety.

One of the robot prototypes developed within the project was the “mini ATV robot, which was designed and built during the Lapland Robotics project. Its construction included 3D modeling and an automated driving test, which guarantees its functionality and safety.

Mini ATV allows you to work both indoors and outdoors and is suitable for use in both summer and winter conditions. In addition, it is possible to connect a Stiga snow thrower to the front of the mini ATV, which makes it an excellent option for winter use”

Due to the success of the project, the robotic work continue within the new project AI.R- Arctic AI & Robotics where the project teams intends to develop various service and application concepts, robotics and artificial intelligence demos implemented at the proof-of-concept level, and prototypes to be piloted by users in the following subject areas: thermal camera applications and usability development, autonomous platforms and their development in Lapland conditions, and robots and artificial intelligence as part of society.

Open source technologies for deploying a lab-grade 5G environment

Author: Alejandro Fornés Leal, UPV

This best practice aims at presenting a set of open source tools that can be utilized for deploying a lab-grade 5G network. They can be used for different purposes, for instance, (i) as practical lessons for HEI courses, (ii) to contribute to the research over specific 5G hardware or software components, or (iii) as custom network for lab-grade testing of applications. A 5G network implementation considers three domains: radio, network and core. Still, different layers can be found: the hardware layer, which includes all the radio, network and processing equipment needed by any network to be functional; the virtualization layer, which abstracts the computing resources to be easily managed and allows the execution of virtual machines and/or containers; and the 5G services layer, which comprises all those services needed to deploy a 5G network, mainly 5G Radio Access Network (RAN) and 5G Core (5GC), as well as other useful services.

Let’s start with the basic equipment needed for having a functional lab-grade 5G network ongoing. To that end, we would need at least:

  • A server of enough processing capacity to deploy the 5G RAN and 5G Core functions. Its requirements depend on the open source solutions adopted. Ideally, it would be better to have two servers in order to split the radio and core features, but in some cases, this is not needed.
  • Dedicated radio equipment. This selection depends on the budget available and, again, for the open source solution considered to perform as RAN, but software-defined radio equipment such as the USRP family or the SYRTEM platform along with 5G compatible antennas can be considered.
  • Then, an IP-based network connectivity among all the former devices and with access to the Internet is needed. A 10 Gb connection would be ideal, but not mandatory.
  • Finally, the end devices. Apart from compatible smartphones, other great devices for testing are RaspberryPis. Although not inherently compatible with 5G, they can be adapted with specific kits, such as those from the Waveshare and Sixfab families. Regardless of the device considered, the key point is to select a compatible chipset with the open source solutions selected.

It is again important to highlight that the selection of the previous equipment depends on the open source solutions to consider. Particularly, the following are the two most important elements of a 5G network, which at this moment can be installed over the aforementioned server/s:

  • 5GC: One can find many free open sources solutions available: Open5GS, OAI 5N, free5GC and magma. They may have different features implemented, but follow the official releases of the 3GPP.
  • 5G RAN: One can find two main distributions: OAI 5G RAN and the srsRAN Project.

Putting all the previous pieces together is not trivial and require certain knowledge of 5G and networking concepts. Once the system is deployed, it should be tested with compatible devices. Therefore, if the system works correctly, a basic lab-grade system would be in place. However, it is important to highlight that spectrum is regulated, and depending on the country, tests might be done on reserved bandwidths or directly forbidden. In the latter case, the use of anechoic boxes or chambers is encouraged, to not disrupt commercial networks.

From now on, the rest of actions contribute to enhancing the system, but are complementary and not a requirement for making work a basic 5G stack. It is likely that, at this moment, at least Docker has been installed over an Operating System to deploy the 5G RAN and the 5GC. We can go a step further if specialized knowledge regarding virtualization technologies is available, by:

  • Installing Kubernetes on top of the servers for deploying and managing the lifecycle of the virtualized 5G services (5G RAN, 5GC and others), in the form of containers;
  • Installing OpenStack on top of the servers for managing the virtualized 5G services, in the form of virtual machines (5G RAN, 5GC and others). 

In this way, we would be adding a more professional touch to the laboratory, and in the specific case of Kubernetes, it would add autonomous healing and scaling capabilities to the system and we would be able to deploy complementary technologies for gathering logs, metrics, add security, etc. There is a plethora of open source solutions available in the CNCF webpage, of interest because of the transformation of 5G software towards Cloud Native. Still, as mentioned, expertise is needed.

The two previous virtualization technologies are agnostic to 5G. However, the following ones are more specific to it, and can be used for managing specific aspects of the system:

  • Software Defined Network (SDN) controller. It manages the flow control of the network switches for improving network management and application performance. This can be used if our network has switches compatible with the OpenFlow protocol, or if our virtualized network equipment has compatible virtual switches like Open vSwitch. Several solutions, most of them open source, can be found (see link).
  • Management and Orchestration (MANO) framework. It manages and orchestrates the lifecycle of the 5G services deployed over our infrastructure, virtual or physical, following ETSI MANO specifications. It allows as well the provisioning of network slices. There are some open source solutions in place, but we highlight OSM as it stems directly from the ETSI, and EMCO as more complex but powerful management solution.
  • Open RAN. This is a more complex concept that require very deep knowledge of 5G and may go beyond this best practice. Open RAN is a non-proprietary version of the Radio Access Network (RAN) system that allows interoperation between cellular network equipment provided by different vendors. The O-RAN Software Community is a collaboration between the O-RAN ALLIANCE and Linux Foundation with the mission to support the creation of open software for the RAN. 
  • Multi-access edge Computing (MEC) platform. Itis a type of network architecture that provides cloud computing capabilities and an IT service environment at the edge of the network. Operators can open their RAN to authorized third-parties, allowing them to deploy innovative applications and services towards mobile subscribers, enterprises and vertical segments. Among open source software, one can find EdgeGallery, the aforementioned EMCO platform, and OAI MEP.
  • 5G NetApps. A Network Application (NetApp) is a software piece that interacts with the control plane of a mobile network by consuming exposed APIs (e.g., Northbound APIs of 5G core) in a standardized and trusted way to compose services for the vertical industries or to any other sector. One great set of resources have been produced by the EVOLVED-5G  project, including an SDK, a NetApp template and a set of complementary tools to develop and validate NetApps.

The latter aspects are more complex and go beyond the basics, but it is important to be aware of all the 5G technological branches to enable the possibility to be innovative in the 5G arena. Apart from the solutions listed, there are much more open source solutions available, still these have been selected as they are one of the most updated and supported by the community.

Final Pitch Deck@TUL: Students from three faculties join forces to tackle 5G/digital health challenges

Author: Jana Simanova

“Entrepreneurship is a key skill for success in the job market or for developing your own business. Every modern university should develop it for its students. However, such a skill cannot simply be developed in the classroom,” explains Jana Simanová, Vice Dean of Faculty of Economics at TUL. “That is why this winter semester we organised a unique educational experiment at TUL, which brought together students from three faculties – the Faculty of Economics, the Faculty of Mechatronics and the Faculty of Health Studies – to solve interesting projects.”

“We started on 6th October with an Ideathon. During the three-hour event, representatives from T-Mobile, Linet and the Regional Hospital in Liberec presented their innovative challenges to thirty students from the Faculty of Mechatronics, the Faculty of Health Studies and the Faculty of Economics. During the Ideathon, the students questioned the challengers and expert mentors about the details of the problems and known solutions. In the end, they formed 4 teams with representatives from all three faculties and defined the goals of their joint projects and initial proposals for innovative solutions,” says Jana Vitvarová, author of the concept of the 5G Interdisciplinary Innovation Lab at TUL and lecturer of students from the Faculty of Health Sciences.

Over the next two months, the students worked on the solutions in their faculty courses and developed them according to their expertise – from a technical, economic and future user point of view. The work included visits to startup companies or paramedic services, consultations with expert mentors and a one-day hackathon for mechatronics students to come up with a technical concept.

“The biggest challenge for the students was communication within the teams. They didn’t know each other before the course started, they study different disciplines with different timetables and they had to synchronise their work. I think it was a useful lesson for everyone that it is important to respect other professionals and try to understand the perspectives of other disciplines,” says Lenka Koskova Triskova, a lecturer of the students from the Smart Technologies specialisation at Faculty of Mechatronics.

The work of the interdisciplinary teams culminated on 23rd November. In front of a panel of experts, the students presented their solution and business plan.The panel of experts included representatives from innovative technology companies and experts in the field of digitalisation and healthcare. Specifically, the teams tackled issues such as the localisation and online tracking of hospital equipment, communication and messaging between paramedic teams and hospitals, and the monitoring of elderly people with neurodegenerative diseases.

The winner of the first year of the 5G Interdisciplinary Innovation Lab was a team of students who designed a new solution for the paramedic team to share information about patients and the course of interventions between dispatch, hospitals and field teams in dealing with mass disasters. “The most interesting part of the whole work for us was that we were in close contact with paramedics and professional mentors. We knew that we were working to solve a real problem and that we could really make a difference,” says Filip Tichacek, a student at the Faculty of Mechatronics and a member of the winning team. His colleague Antonin Sahula adds: “I told myself that I would study some economics because it is important and as a technician I need to be able to get along with economists if I want to run a company one day. So far I haven’t been interested in it at all”.

“For us, the organisers, the most important thing now is the retrospective and the feedback from the students, so that we can continue to improve in preparing similar forms of teaching,” says Jana Vitvarová, summing up her impressions on behalf of the organisers. “We definitely want to repeat and develop the concept. We all enjoyed connecting students from different faculties – the students and us. For example, the area of smart solutions for cities and a whole range of other ideas are on offer”.

“The whole event could not have taken place without the active participation of the practitioner challengers and expert mentors. We are very grateful to Vit Karvay, Technical Director of the global company LINET, Head of the Science and Research Centre of the Regional Hospital in Liberec Vendula Macháčková, Lukáš Abazid from T-Mobile, Jakub Recek, paramedic, Lenka Horakova, geriatric specialist and Pavel Hübner from Hardwario for their helpful suggestions and excellent cooperation.” concludes Jana Simanová, Vice Dean for Conception and Development of the EF TUL and adding that she hopes the students will continue to develop and improve their projects. A great opportunity is, for example, the participation in the EIT Health Open Innovation Call.

5G Interdisciplinary Innovation Lab bringing together students of technology, natural sciences and economics

Authors: Jana Vitvarova, Lenka Koskova Triskova (Technical University in Liberec)

5G Interdisciplinary Innovation Lab (5GIIL) fosters collaboration among students across diverse fields including economics, technical disciplines, and application domains with a strong emphasize in eHealth. These students come together in teams to collectively create and prepare market-driven solutions that embrace innovation in the 5G and beyond. This best practice draws inspiration from hackathons. However, unlike hackathons, the activities take place over a longer period of time so that students have more time to think about the solution, and it is possible to integrate 5GIIL for eHealth into their regular courses.

In the preparation phase, once suitable courses and students from different disciplines have been selected, there are two main activities:

a) obtain application domain specific challenges from stakeholders from the eHealth sector,
b) form a team of expert mentors from both academia and industry/business who possess the necessary expertise to guide students across all three aspects of their work: domain knowledge, technical skills, and economic and entrepreneurial understanding. 

In the realisation phase, the 5GIIL for eHealth follows the steps below. The activities alternate between instructor-led workshops providing the necessary context for the current step and subsequent independent teamwork. Teams maintain regular contact with mentors and can consult with them about their work at each step.

These steps are

1st Challenges. Presentation of challenges to students and facilitation of teams’ formations. Teams assignment: Choose a challenge and form a multidisciplinary team. 

2nd Ideation. Workshop on ideation techniques. Teams assignment: Suggest possible solutions. 

3rd Prototyping. Workshop on prototyping methods. Team assignment: Develop a prototype solution.

4th Validation. Workshop on validation methods. Teams assignment: Validate the proposed solution.

5th Pitch (to investors). Workshop on how to make a pitch. Teams assignment: Make the best pitch.

6th Retrospective/Feedback. Workshop on retrospective methods. Teams assignment: Make the retrospective and get feedback on your work/pitch.

The 5GIIL for eHealth is meant to be an integral part of specific student’s courses, so it is advisable to reward students for participating in the lab by earning part of the credits from their course. Working in the 5GIIL for eHealth, students develop entrepreneurial and project management skills and strengthen interdisciplinary links that are otherwise difficult to acquire during their studies. They learn by sharing their knowledge. Engineering students bring knowledge of technology, development and production methods. Domain students bring knowledge of the details and needs of the eHealth industry. Economics students bring knowledge of business and marketing principles. Project-based approach, real-life challenges and expert mentorship allow students to work directly with the eHealth industry, gain practical experience and think about the impact their work can have in real-world contexts.

The application of 5G may catalyse the convergence of other modern technologies like AI, IoT, blockchain, virtual reality, and edge computing. By integrating these technologies with 5G, innovators can create ground-breaking solutions with enhanced capabilities and transformative potential.

The pilot 5GIIL for 5G/Digital Health took place in 2023 at the Technical University of Liberec with the support of the EIT HEI Initiative and the Skills2Scale project.

NEW 5G private network at Technical University in Liberec – unique Open Core & Ran solution for various industrial applications