A 5G Garbage Truck in Melbourne?

A 5G Garbage Truck in Melbourne?
Trash Truck. Image: Netflix

5G networks, the Internet of Things and garbage trucks could become the future of local road repair, as new technology is adopted by a council in Melbourne as part of a research collaboration with the Swinburne University of Technology.

That’s a lot of words, some of which don’t immediately make sense beside each other. 5G-powered garbage trucks? Powered by the Internet of Things? Road repair? Well, it’s actually a pretty novel idea.

As explained in a post on the Swinburne University website, cameras and 5G functionality could be attached to Brimbank City Council garbage trucks as they’re sent out on duty. Paired with GPS sensors, also attached, the trucks could map out assets that require maintenance, sending all maintenance sites to a cloud database of areas needing attention.

5g garbage truck
Image: Swinburne University of Technology

This isn’t just limited to roads, but also includes bus shelters and damaged road signs. The cameras attached to the truck capture 3D perception data at a rate of 900 megabits per second, about 18 times faster than the speed of the average mobile download speed.

“This innovative 5G-based project offers us a quicker and more efficient way to identify which assets need maintenance, and to get the information to the work crews. Simply put, this project will help Council respond faster to assets that need maintenance,” says Brimbank’s mayor Jasmine Nguyen.

“Residents have told us via the community survey that improving the appearance of Brimbank’s roads, road signs, bus stop shelters and roadside spaces is a high priority.”

When you put it like that, it kind of makes sense. As far as regular vehicle routes go, garbage trucks tend to stick to the most rigid planned routes.

Automating the process of logging maintenance sites is expected to drastically reduce the time it takes to identify, document and fix issues. It’s expected to remove the cost for manual reporting and auditing, saving up to 50 per cent of asset auditing costs.

“Swinburne is bringing together researchers, government and industry to co-create safe, resilient solutions for smart and sustainable cities. Together, we are enhancing access to services, places and economic opportunities, and improving quality of life,” says Associate Professor Jayaraman, the director of Swinburne’s Factory of the Future and Digital Innovation Lab.

“We are delighted to be working with the forward-thinking Brimbank Council, and utilising Swinburne’s leading capabilities and world-renowned expertise in Internet of Things and digital innovation to demonstrate a solution that can be used in cities across Australia and around the world.”

This tech is supported by a $1.18 million funding package from the federal government’s Australian 5G Innovation Initiative, a project seeking to showcase and utilise the power of 5G.

The project is expected to save Australia millions of dollars while also improving road quality in Brimbank.