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Singapore Announces New 5G Projects in EV Manufacturing, River Cleaning

The new 5G applications will enhance workplace safety and allow workers to take on higher-value roles, says Senior Minister of State for Communications and Information Janil Puthucheary.

A 5G-enabled electric unmanned surface vessel for river cleaning and inspection. (Photo: Weston Robot)

Singapore will see three new applications of 5G technology this year, including two firsts in electric vehicle manufacturing and river cleaning, Senior Minister of State for Communications and Information Janil Puthucheary told Parliament on Tuesday (Feb 28).

Dr Puthucheary said that measurements by the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) confirmed that Singapore's first two 5G standalone networks have reached 95 per cent nationwide outdoor coverage, ahead of a 2025 target for nationwide coverage.

"With the rollout progressing well ahead of schedule, our focus is currently on supporting the industry to tap on 5G's capabilities to enhance their operations and service offerings," he said.

In one project, more than a hundred 5G-enabled robots are being deployed on the factory floor of the Hyundai Motor Group Innovation Centre in Singapore to transport materials to vehicle manufacturing cells.

The 5G technology will allow for real-time data transmission between the automated control system and the robots. It will reduce labor-intensive activity, enhance workers' safety and allow them to take on higher-value roles, said Dr Puthucheary.

He added that Hyundai intends to hire robotics engineers, data analysts and process engineers for the manufacturing facility.

The Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI) described the partnership between the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) and Hyundai as "the world's first 5G-enabled built-to-order electric vehicle factory".

It added that the more agile manufacturing process will allow Hyundai to develop "Singapore's very own built-to-order electric vehicles". More details will be announced when the center is launched later in the year.

In another new project, 5G-enabled electric unmanned surface vessels will be used for river cleaning and inspection in a partnership between IMDA and Weston Robot.

Currently, river cleaning is done manually from petrol-fueled boats. Each boat produces as much as 20 tons of carbon a year and costs S$6,000 to S$12,000 a year to maintain.

The electric vessels can run autonomously and use video analytics to detect and clear rubbish outside of the pre-programmed paths. They will also reduce carbon emissions by 80 per cent compared to the gasoline boats.

MCI said the electric unmanned vessels will improve workplace safety and reduce the need to work for long hours under the sun. A single operator at a command center will also be able to pilot multiple electric vessels.

Describing the project as a "first" in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), MCI added that it will look to propel the use of electric vessels and video analytics technology for rubbish detection in Singapore and the region.

A third project will see IMDA work with Mind PointEye to develop 5G artificial intelligence-enabled sentry robots and patrolling vehicles for security surveillance. Security guards will be able to monitor locations remotely using video analytics that provide real-time push notifications of threats.

IMDA launched the S$30 million 5G Innovation Program in 2021 to accelerate adoption and commercialization of enterprise 5G solutions. Seven 5G projects have received grants under the program, including the latest three.


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