Long-range Wi-Fi to connect industry

Researchers from the University of Sydney’s Centre for Internet of Things (IoT) and Telecommunications are developing a Wi-Fi system to achieve long-range communication, high data rates and low latency for the mining industry.

The system is being created for mission-critical applications in underground mines that require remote monitoring of workers and control of sensitive mining equipment, with signals extending as far as several kilometres underground.

Supported by an $800,000 grant from the New South Wales Physical Sciences Fund, Professor Yonghui Li is leading the breakthrough research for the mining industry.

“To deploy these systems in large areas such as underground mines is expensive, and often the signal quality is poor,” Li said.

“Our system is the world’s first long-range high-rate Wi-Fi system that is compatible with conventional Wi-Fi and supports both mobile and multiple-access terminals.

“It provides a cost-effective solution and opens up new possibilities for real-time surveillance, image and data transmission, all while guaranteeing low latency, which means it doesn’t experience lag and can be used for highly sensitive, mission-critical work.”

Existing Wi-Fi systems have mainly been designed for indoor applications and have short communication ranges of less than 100 metres, as well as random and high latency.

The team’s system integrated new protocols with off-the-shelf Wi-Fi chips, so they could be used with existing Wi-Fi infrastructure.

“Adaption of existing Wi-Fi systems is central to our project as there are billions of dollars’ worth of Wi-Fi infrastructure already deployed in underground mines around the world,” Li said.

Long-range, low latency and high data rate Wi-Fi networks will be a central facet of 6G technologies and the IoT economy.

Australian IoT company Roobuck will manufacture and certify the Wi-Fi system, which is expected to be available within the next two years.

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