Another 6G research initiative has emerged. Dubbed 6G@UT it sees wireless boffins from the University of Texas (UT) Austin club together, on campus, with tech wizards from US industry and South Korea.
Founding “affiliates” – AT&T, InterDigital, Nvidia, Qualcomm, and Samsung – are each to fund at least two 6G@UT projects for three years. And in the spirit of collaboration, researchers from these companies will work alongside UT faculty members and students. The idea is to develop wireless-specific machine learning algorithms, advanced sensing technologies, and core networking innovations that will be the “backbone of 6G”.
Todd Humphreys, associate professor in UT Austin’s Department of Aerospace Engineering and Engineering Mechanics – as part of the official announcement released by the university – put some time aside to stick a partial boot into 5G.
“5G’s vision of sensing has been insufficiently bold,” he said.
“6G should begin with the premise that sensing is not just for reacting to conditions, but anticipating them, so that vital links to automated vehicles, AR/VR headsets, and other latency-sensitive applications can be maintained with utter reliability.” The research initiative anticipates much better localization and sensing, courtesy of THz bands and “superior sensing resolution through massively dense antenna arrays,” by the time 6G comes around.
This combination, so this thinking goes, should allow carriers to better monitor the quality of their networks in a bunch of different places, from office towers to downtown areas and hard-to-reach rural locations.
6G networks, envisaged 6G@UT gurus, will be “loaded with radar, vision, audio, lidar, thermal, seismic and broadband software-defined radio sensors that will provide unprecedented situational awareness to applications and devices running on the network”.
Four 6G research pillars
6G@UT is looking at four key research directions: deeply embedded machine learning from the physical layer up through to the application; pervasive sensing for comprehensive situational awareness; enabling new spectrum and new topologies; and flexible resource sharing, including spectrum and computation resources.
6G@UT expects much of the innovation to lie at the intersection of these areas. The application of machine learning (ML) tools in conjunction, say, with comprehensive sensing to enable efficient resource and spectrum sharing or highly directional beamforming.
“We envision an increasingly open and software-defined cellular network, building on the [open RAN] paradigm, that provides a platform for continuous and more rapid innovation compared to 5G, particularly for ML-related technologies,” said the UT press release.
6G@UT is another US-led marker on the road to 6G. Another was unveiled in May when ATIS’s Next G Alliance announced the launch of its technical work program, plus the formation of the key working groups, intended to “fulfill its mission to drive North American leadership for 6G and beyond”.
At the start of the year, Hexa-X, led by Nokia, was billed as Europe’s “flagship” 6G initiative Backed by various vendors, communication service providers, and research institutes – as well as funding from the European Commission – Hexa-X officially began work on “6G research and pre-standardization” on January 1.