Fujitsu is to trial a private 5G network at a data center to enable automatic equipment inspection via robot.

Fujitsu Limited this week announced it will embark on a series of field trials together with Fujitsu Research Institute Limited at its Yokohama Data Center in Yokohama City, Kanagawa Prefecture.

Fujitsu 5g robot.jpg
– Fujitsu

The verification trial will run from December 2022 until March 2023 and aim to ‘promote the digital transformation of data centers, boosting operational resilience and process automation’ by utilizing private 5G network technology for equipment inspection.

The trial will involve the use of an autonomous robot equipped with a 4K camera to patrol the facility and capture video of equipment, including servers. The data will be transmitted locally by private 5G to analyze on-site conditions with AI to detect any abnormalities at an early stage.

Fujitsu said it aims to “create a system that can support the monitoring of conditions on the ground and recovery work, even from a remote location.”

After the trial, Fujitsu plans to utilize the knowledge gained from this trial to implement similar systems in its other data centers, and eventually offer it as a solution to other data center operators.

Other companies are also trying to increase the number of robots in the data center, but progress has been slow.

This year NTT announced it is developing a robot to help it help manage data centers. The Japanese company provided few details about the system but a video from the company shows a robot torso on wheels. It has two arms, with three-fingered claw-like hands. It is likely a SEED-R7 series machine from Seed Solutions, a subsidiary of Japanese engineering and robotics firm THK Co., Ltd.

Back in 2020, Switch said that it was entering the robotics market with special Sentry Robots, in a splashy announcement that it said at the time would become a separate business line. But references to the project have been quietly removed from the Switch website, and the company has not responded to requests for comment about the status of the robots.

In China, Huawei and Alibaba are known to operate their own custom data center robots, while South Korea’s Naver was said to be planning to use robots at its Cloud Ring data center in Sejong City.

Utah-based Novva has gone for a simpler approach - instead of developing its own robots, it is using Boston Dynamics Spot robots. Again, the systems are focused on the comparatively simple task of surveillance and security, rather than facility maintenance. The company has said it looking to deploy 4G or possibly 5G on-site to enable the machines greater connectivity range, and may possibly use Boston Dynamics' humanoid Atlas robot in the future. It is also exploring the use of drones both external of the facility and inside the data halls.

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