5G research grant for public safety communications

| Industrial Sector News

New York University wireless research teams gain access to public funds to extend mmWave research for 5G communications.

Following the donation of nearly $1 million in Hardware and Software to NYU Wireless to accelerate 5G research, the US Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has awarded NYU Wireless $2.3 million over a period of three years. This was given to the NYU Wireless research centre at the New York University Tandon School of Engineering, which will work with Italy’s University of Padova, the Austin Fire Department and NYU Wireless industrial affiliates to create a research platform for public safety communications using frequencies above 6 gigahertz, in the mmWave spectrum.

Although the technology of ultra-fast 5G wireless communication is nearing its first public deployment, millimeter-wave (mmWave) technology for such public safety communications is less understood and presents unique challenges. Not only must emergency communications cover land and air, they must also occasionally build their own networks, for example, when a hurricane takes down cell towers. Another challenge: Communication must be robust and reliable – link failures that mean nothing more than a dropped call for mobile phone users could crash an autonomous vehicle, for example. And emergency vehicles move rapidly – presenting a severe “handoff” challenge for antennas. The researchers plan to address all these mmWave issues, plus provide the vast mmWave bandwidth needed to communicate with many first responders simultaneously.

National Instruments, an industrial affiliate of NYU Wireless, will provide much of the equipment and software, and NYU students have worked extensively at NI to develop key components. Earlier this year, NI donated nearly $1 million in hardware and software to NYU WIRELESS to accelerate 5G research.

The Austin Fire Department’s Robotics Emergency Deployment Team is at the forefront of the use of robotics in emergency incident management. AFD was the first metropolitan fire department in the country to receive a Certificate of Authorisation from the Federal Aviation Administration to use drone technology in real-time public safety capacities. For this project, the Austin Fire Department will consult on the design of test scenarios and may even test prototypes. The city’s hilly geography poses a difficult mmWave challenge.

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