Australia reinvents wireless fidelity systems
Game-changing Wi-Fi development for the mining industry Metal Tech News - December 22, 2021
Last updated 12/21/2021 at 2:20pm
Researchers at the University of Sydney have been working toward a new method of telecommunications with a safe and cost-effective technology that could be a wireless internet game-changer for connecting mines, with an industrial long-range Wi-Fi system that transmits signals to hard-to-reach places while maintaining high data rates.
Supported by an AUD$800,000 grant from the NSW Physical Sciences Fund, this Wi-Fi system that can send signals several kilometers underground is being created for mission-critical applications such as remote monitoring of underground miners and control of sensitive mining equipment.
"Australia invented Wi-Fi – and how terrific and transformative an invention it has been – except for the fact that it has been plagued by short range and high latency, rendering it patchy and prone to dropping out," said project lead Professor Yonghui Li, who said the research was a breakthrough for the mining industry, but would only necessarily have a positive impact on many industries that rely on low latency and high data transmission.
Existing Wi-Fi systems have mainly been designed for indoor applications, and therefore have short ranges of less than 100 meters, as well as random high latency. This makes them unsuitable for mission-critical mining applications.
To combat this shortcoming, the Centre for IoT and Telecommunications researchers have designed long-range Wi-Fi systems for ultra-low latency and high data rates, which allows wireless signals to travel several kilometers while carrying more data without dropping out or experiencing lag.
"Our system is the world's first long-range high-rate Wi-Fi system that is compatible with conventional Wi-Fi and supports both mobile and multiple-access terminals," added Li. "It provides a cost-effective solution and opens up new possibilities for real-time surveillance, image and data transmission, all while guaranteeing low latency, which means it doesn't experience lag and can be used for highly sensitive, mission-critical work."
While the oncoming of 5G telecommunication networks have been touting its ability to provide the necessary speeds and stability a fully functional future smart mine would need, the infrastructure is still in its infancy stages at best.
To ensure its new long-range, high-rate Wi-Fi is compatible with existing infrastructure, the University of Sydney team integrated the new protocols with off-the-shelf Wi-Fi chips.
"Adaption of existing Wi-Fi is central to our project as there are billions of dollars' worth of Wi-Fi infrastructure already deployed in underground mines around the world," said Li.
To prepare for the eventual production and distribution of this revolutionary wireless system, Australian internet of things company Roobuck will manufacture and certify the low-cost, ready-to-use Wi-Fi system, which is expected to be available within the next two years.
Long-range, low-latency and high data rate Wi-Fi networks will be a central facet of 6G technologies and the internet of things economy, according to the research team.
While it still remains to be seen if an emerging technology can be classified as sixth generation, the technology would undoubtedly have many mining applications, such as autonomous equipment, drones, and robotics.
"Existing short-range technologies simply do not meet the requirements of up-and-coming IoT applications," said co-lead Professor Brank Vucetic. "The coverage of large areas is typically achieved by mesh networks – which help to extend the coverage of wireless networks – with a high number of nodes and relay hops, which cause congestion and severe latency."
You can read more about telecommunications generations, from radio analog first generation to the advent of the smartphone with 3G in 5G to enable next gen of industrial IoT in the April 15, 2020, edition of Metal Tech News.
Additionally, Metal Tech News has covered information regarding mesh networks in Predictive maintenance dodges downtime in the April 1, 2020, edition. Click the link to read about how this technology functions and the potential advantages it provides.