The race towards 6G is on…

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Worldwide, research and development work on the future 6G mobile communications standard is picking up pace. Companies and states are investing massively in this technology. In the race to lead the way, Bosch is actively involved in projects, alliances, and initiatives at both the national and international level to lay important foundations for 6G technology.

“6G will be much more than just an infrastructure for connectivity; it will greatly increase the efficiency of autonomous driving cars, smart cities, and connected industries. That’s why 6G is a strategically important field of technology,” says Dr. Andreas Müller, who bundles and manages 6G activities at Bosch. The company currently has some 40 associates working on 6G technology. Over the next two years, that number is likely to double,” Müller says. Bosch is currently investing several millions of euros in research and development for 6G.

At the Mobile World Congress 2023 in Barcelona, Bosch and Nokia have now announced that they will expand the alliance they entered into in 2017 to develop industrial IoT solutions in the area of 5G so that it also addresses the new 6G technology. The two companies are conducting joint research on the next generation of networks and investigating how to use future 6G networks for both communications and sensors.

Bosch is currently contributing its expertise and experience to five publicly funded projects. In this context, the 6G-ICAS4Mobility, KOMSENS-6G, and 6G-BRAINS projects focus primarily on integrating communication and sensor-based environment recognition. Bosch leads the consortium for the first project. In addition to addressing relevant scenarios for road traffic, insights gained from the project will serve, in particular, as technical foundations for applications in the connected drones domain as well as in Industry 4.0 (e.g. for driverless transport systems).

Meanwhile, the 6G-ANNA and 6G-SHINE projects focus on new connectivity structures. These are intended to enhance the efficiency of future E/E architectures in vehicles or robot cells. Bosch is also taking an active and leading role in early discussions and activities relating to future mobile communications standards within various industry alliances. In the 5G Automotive Association (5GAA), for instance, leading companies from the automotive and telecommunications industries are working together to develop solutions for the mobility of the future. The 5G Alliance for Connected Industries and Automation (5GACIA) brings together industrial companies to focus on connectivity for machinery and equipment.

Among other things, the next generation of mobile communications will integrate new functionalities similar to radar sensors. With 6G, it will be possible to detect the position of objects in the network’s coverage area – without these objects having to be equipped with a radio module. 6G will enable extremely high data rates of up to one terabit per second, with very low latency in the order of some 100 microseconds – which is four times faster than a lightning strike. With the help of digital twins, this will for instance make it possible to monitor and simulate real-world manufacturing processes in a virtual world with no temporal and spatial restrictions. Experts predict that the first 6G standard will be completed by 2028.

In recent months, Germany and Europe have launched a large number of 6G projects with the goal of strengthening their technological sovereignty. The German government, through the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), is providing some 700 million euros over the next three years to fund 6G activities. In addition, the EU budget has earmarked a further almost 900 million euros until 2027. Japan and the United States have also launched corresponding investment programmes totaling around 4.5 billion dollars.