Why does an ICE need 5G? For entertain-ment, but also for interconnected train tech-nology.
In a crowded ICE 4, up to 1.000 travellers are online – that's a small village. Dr. Karsten Kemeter, CTO of Deutsche Bahn AG, spoke about that in his pre-sentation. As all of these passengers have growing demands on bandwidth and speed of reaction, Deutsche Bahn is already preparing to offer "GigabitTrains" by 2030 at the latest.
This task will not be easier if you consider that a train is typically 40 years in use – or even more. And that the traffic concept of the German Government pro-vides for a doubling of passengers traveling by train. That is why 5G plays an important role in Deutsche Bahn's plans for the future online connection of itstrains.
There is another aspect to it: Increasingly, the online connection of a long-distance train will serve not only the infotainment of passengers, but also the moni-toring and control of interconnected train technology.
According to Dr. Kemeter, "Smart Mobility" will be joined by "Smart Operations". Important components of the train technology should then be controlled byremote maintenance and AI-based analyses and, for example, should inform in time when maintenance work is required. This could also apply to coffee ma-chines that do not always function reliably in long-distance trains, added the CTO tongue-in-cheek.
Is 5G the only solu-tion for all railwayconnectivity pro-blems? Unfortuna-tely not.
These concepts are to be supported by an intelligent infrastructure – Deutsche Bahn implements these measures under the slogan "Digital Rail Germany".This includes, for example, the expansion of a railway-owned fibre-optic network along the railways.
Deutsche Bahn is also preparing for the connectivity by 5G. It tests the 5G connection of a passenger train and the resulting possibilities in its "AdvancedTrain Lab" – an experimental ICE, which is already equipped with pre-5G components and can test these on the ICE path next to the "test field highway" bet-ween Nuremberg and Ingolstadt. As soon as 5G is commercially available, the Advanced Train Lab will be equipped with it as Deutsche Bahn's first train.
Deutsche Bahn has also set up a project to improve signal coverage in tunnels. Modern "beam cables” can supply a high-speed train with data rates of 300to 400 megabits/second.
However, 5G is not the sole answer to all of Deutsche Bahn’s challenges, reports Mr Kemeter. On the one hand, the supply requirements determined by the5G frequency auction would not guarantee that all major railway lines in Germany are adequately supplied with 5G – at least not in the first stages of expan-sion. On the other hand, previous experiments have shown that 5G could not demonstrate many of its advantages in the "free field" (i.e. on flat terrain). Forthe "Massive MIMO" technology used at 5G works on the basis of signal reflections.
In the flat country, however, there is not much that would reflect the signals. As in the past, the solution for optimum signal coverage for passenger trainswould therefore be the intelligent combination of various radio standards. Deutsche Bahn is conducting intensive talks with mobile network operators on bothchallenges.
In the future, 5G will not only give mobility a boost. When you look out of the window of an ICE during an overland journey, you will often discover a field ofapplication that may not be perfectly obvious: viticulture. In his lecture at connect-ec, Prof. Georg Prinz zur Lippe states that it is precisely in viticulture thatone has to work long-term and sustainable in comparison to the rest of agriculture. In contrast to arable farming, there is no one-year business model, whichalso entails higher costs. In order to optimize the yield as much as possible over a period of up to 30 years, sophisticated management is required above acertain operating size. Those in charge must use a variety of information from the vineyard to make decisions in order to act as efficiently as possible.
What’s the benefit of drones at thevineyard? Lots of useful data.
This requires a wide range of data collected by sensors around the vineyard.In addition to the water content information about pest infestation and healthof the plants can be gathered as well. For example, multi-spectral camerascan detect the amount of light absorbed by the grape leaves in different wa-velengths, which allows conclusions to be drawn about their vitality. Dronesequipped with special cameras offer the vintner a great deal of time savings.Such systems are even available on the market already: For example, dronemanufacturer Parrot offers a spectral camera called Sequoia, which can beattached to different flying objects. 5G can be very useful in transmitting thesensor data. According to Prinz zur Lippe, vintners could get external sup-port in the evaluation and receive recommendations for action with the helpof artificial intelligence.
No less interesting for wine-growing is autonomous driving. However, vint-ners would face even more difficulties compared to arable farming due to thenature of the environment. The vines limit the range of motion. Slope oftenhave extreme gradients. Prinz zur Lippe sees a solution in "cooperative dri-ving". So one could record the driving style of the best machine operator,who knows exactly how the vehicle has to move like in the vineyard. The em-ployee should not be replaced by this – of course not.
It would simply achieve higher productivity, as one driver could now manageseveral growing areas at the same time.
However, the use of machines would not bring an advantage in every aspect.For example, you could not do the harvest without an experienced specialist.Nevertheless, in the future, viticulture will not be able to get along without bigdata, AI and 5G, as Georg Prinz zur Lippe is certain.
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