Virginia research team selected to develop 5G smart warehouse for the Defense Department

ODU researcher will serve as technical lead
Posted at 9:01 AM, Mar 31, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-31 17:46:58-04

NORFOLK, Va. - A Virginia research team has landed a contract to develop a 5G-enabled "smart warehouse" for the Department of Defense.

The Virginia-Tech Applied Research Corporation is working with the Commonwealth Cyber Initiative (CCI) on the project.

CCI is funded by Virginia to focus on research, innovation, and workforce development and involves industry, government, and higher education institutions.

For this project, researchers from Virginia Tech, Old Dominion University, George Mason University and Virginia Commonwealth University will work together along with four industry partners.

Dr. Sachin Shetty of ODU is the technical lead for the 5G-enabled "smart warehouse" contract. He will lead a team to develop that warehouse at Marine Corps Logistics Base in Albany, Georgia.

The 5G technology and senor networks for the warehouse are meant to move and track items to ensure they end up where they are meant to go in a timely fashion.

"When you say you want a warehouse to be smarter, you're talking about your people connecting with various handheld devices. You have to make sure the information that is exchanged between the various warehouse assets between them and a billion people can proceed at a rapid fashion so you can track things quicker and you can get information in a timely fashion," Dr. Shetty explained in an interview with News 3 anchor Todd Corillo.

The technology has to be adept at navigating a noisy warehouse environment and have long-lasting battery life.

Dr. Shetty says the real-world application of the technology is an exciting venture for the group, and he's hopeful this is just the beginning of many similar contracts to come.

"This is not a typical paper-based delivery. We have to make this work in the warehouse," Dr. Shetty told Corillo.

"Folks will be using it and we will be evaluated. So, if we do well, then doors open up for other warehouses because of what we did for this first one."

The Department of Defense is also evaluating ship and pier connectivity with 5G technology at Naval Station Norfolk currently.