Although U.S. school campuses have been locked down to stop COVID-19 from spreading, China is already fighting its way back from the peak of its outbreak — and actively embracing the latest mobile technologies to aid in ongoing screening efforts. This week, the Beijing Institute of Technology deployed a robotic 5G monitoring car on its campus, enabling a remote operator to safely screen visitors from afar, as well as making package deliveries.
As shared in images from Chinese state-run press agency Xinhua, the vehicle is too small for an adult to fit inside, but large enough to hold a combination of packages, telecommunications equipment, and AV gear. In basic delivery mode, it can carry boxes from one location to another, opening one of four side-mounted locker doors to let people manually retrieve packages. It also has a top-mounted camera that can swivel around to look at pedestrians, identifying them via facial recognition and also thermally scanning their temperatures.
There are at least two ways to see what the 5G vehicle is seeing. The back of the vehicle has a large integrated display, allowing a security guard to do in-person facial or temperature monitoring when the car is parked. Alternatively, a security guard located in a remote office can monitor the camera’s output live using the high-speed 5G cellular connection.
The 5G vehicle is part of the KuGaea Kun series developed by Cool High Technology, a Beijing-based maker of autonomous drones and cars. A self-driving version has been certified for Baidu’s Apollo autonomous open vehicle platform, taking advantage of Beijing’s 300-plus miles of self-driving test roads.
Beijing Institute of Technology’s use of the 5G vehicle isn’t China’s first application of the next-generation networking technology for coronavirus-related screening and security. Back in January, ZTE launched a remote 5G diagnosis and treatment system to help experts in Chengdu provide medical assistance locally, then to Wuhan, which is over 700 miles away. China is currently one of the world’s leaders in rolling out 5G, having accomplished initial “national” coverage in 50 cities in 2019, with promises to cover all 300 prefecture-level cities by the end of 2020.