Located in the French Basque Country, in the town of Bidart, startup Kompaï Robotics has been designing and developing robots for the health industry (hospitals and nursing homes) since 2016. Its multi-tasking, multi-skilled robots average 4 feet high and weigh about 100 pounds. They come in handy for both caregivers and patients! On the one hand, they offer tremendous logistical assistance. On the other, they provide entertainment, physical support and even enhance socialization. There is a snag though: they rely on an Internet connection. This is where 5G comes in. Such is the conclusion of an experiment led in the fall of 2020 by Kompaï Robotics hand in hand with Orange 5G Lab.
It’s a match for Kompaï Robotics and 5G!
Line of Business
The company’s Problematics
- Low latency for higher security, thanks to a more reliable control over the robots
- Increased output volume, speed and autonomy (no setting up required, no relying on a local network: ideal for places with no Internet access or with poor connection).
- Faster download speeds (more data in less time, which allows for the robot to respond quicker, hence more fluidity in use and interaction).
Diverse functionalities call for a strong Internet connection
Kompaï Robotics is a modular robot with an open software architecture. This specificity allows for each establishment (be it hospitals, assisted living facilities, residential homes…) to format its health assistant to meet its needs, including in terms of actual hardware gear, whether it be a handle to help get up, a medical walker-like structure, a touchscreen tablet…
A word from Anthony Caron, Kompaï Robotics developer
”A Kompaï Robotics robot can for instance be used as a walking frame. With its proprietary system, it can analyze the pace of the person relying on it. It also serves as entertainment, as it offers videos, music, cognitive games, vocal and graphic assistance… Among other things, Kompaï Robotics aims at stimulating the patient’s memory, helps remain active and provides a way to stay in touch with loved ones. Last, it represents logistical and monitoring support for nursing staffs. Kompaï Robotics robots are able, in practice, to assume rounds. With their cameras, they can film their surroundings and warn the staff if a patient falls, for example.”
Usually, Kompaï Robotics robots are connected to the hospital’s or nursing home’s WiFi network. Yet, they are more often than not compelled to resort to 4G, especially in assisted living facilities, when the quality of the WiFi coverage is insufficient.
Each robot is equipped with a remote control feature, that works hand in hand with cameras placed on the robot. This requires considerable bandwidth, as the robot needs to send a high quantity of data to the server in order to display quality image and offer good communication. The whole point of our experimentation with Orange 5G Lab was to find out whether we could improve, or even increase our data traffic thanks to 5G.
5G Testing: true team work for Kompaï Robotics and Orange 5G Lab
Before testing, Kompaï Robotics defined a protocol with the help of the Orange 5G Lab team. “We designed a scenario that would strain the robot’s Internet use, so we could evaluate the stability and capacities of 5G in our various use cases. The Orange 5G Lab team took on finding a trial context adapted to our needs and came up with a location divided into different spaces with a bedroom, bathroom and living room. We logged the 5G unit that was made available to us onto our robot with no difficulty whatsoever. During the test, the Internet throughput grew progressively during the 15 to 20-minute predefined scenario. We tried it first in 4G and then in 5G, in order to assess the discrepancies.”
To sum it up
Experimentation scenario of Kompaï Robotics robots
Remote connection through the VPN (4G, then 5G) to enable the startup to take hold of its robot. Handling through a wireless controller and two cameras (wide-angle and 3D).
Confronting the robot to emergency situations in order to test both quantity and quality of streamed data (upload and download).
Simultaneous actions led as the robot is still under remote control with active cameras and controllers: conversing several minutes via Skype, logging onto YouTube and watching a video, launching the monitoring patrol mode, importing a database.
4G/5G: what is the difference?
Under 5G, the download speed turned out to be much higher than with 4G. As a result, downloading data was a lot faster for the robot! The uploading speed, on the other hand, was pretty much the same as 4G’s. However, the flow of data sent was more stable, and thus more reliable. And connecting to the cameras was much quicker.
Lower latency is a major asset, especially in assisted living facilities, for security reasons first (it is crucial to be able to take over our robots in an instant), but also so users can enjoy more fluidity in operation.
5G means improved interaction with Kompaï Robotics’ bots and upgraded uses
Kompaï Robotics robots don’t rely solely on built-in tools: a large part indeed lives in the Cloud. In fact, some footage (take the case of facial recognition for instance) is transmitted via the Internet to be treated, before being sent to the robot. “Our startup will be able to perfect and accelerate this picture and video analysis effort thanks to the high speed and strong reliability of 5G.” Another most interesting perceptive for Kompaï Robotics? “Right now, under WiFi and with 4G as a backup, it is complicated to have more than one bot in a single facility. But 5G could potentially allow for an entire fleet of them!” The startup developer concludes: “It should also make us autonomous in terms of connectivity. Thus, our robots would become available to all facilities that don’t yet have a decent WiFi coverage.”