5G garbage trucks are driving the future of Australian smart cities

Professor Prem Prakash Jayaraman (left), the Director of Swinburne’s Factory of the Future

An interconnected network of garbage trucks could be the new frontline in repairing local roads, thanks to a research collaboration between Swinburne University of Technology and Brimbank City Council that utilises the 5G network and the Internet of Things (IoT).

They will attach high-resolution cameras and GPS sensors to Brimbank’s waste trucks.

Devices to utilize cloud-based system

The devices’ data will be sent in real-time to a cloud-based system to create an easy-to-use map of assets that need maintenance like road signs, bus shelters and damaged roads.

This will reduce the time it takes to identify, document and fix issues, removing the need for costly manual reporting and auditing, and saving up to 50 per cent of asset auditing costs.

With a $1.18m fund from the Federal Australian 5G Innovation Initiative, the project will also help demonstrate how 5G can reliably support the needs of smart Australian cities.

How it works

The stereo vision and depth cameras will collect 3D perception data at a rate of 900 mbs/sec. Average mobile download speeds in Australia in 2020 were 43 mbs/sec.

To add extra complexity, the garbage trucks travel across every street in the council area each week and need to transmit the data in real-time while moving at varying speeds.

This makes the environment perfect for testing the capabilities of the super-fast 5G network, while also helping maintenance teams work more effectively.

As part of the project, maintenance teams will be able to get information directly on their phones and upload proof of maintenance performed on the spot.

There is more than 900 kms of road under maintenance and an estimated $15m to $20m to maintain and improve road and roadside assets in Brimbank alone.

it is the hope of the stakeholders that the project will not only improve the lives and safety of the local residents, but also help other councils around Australia to save millions.

Associate Professor Prem Prakash Jayaraman, the Director of Swinburne’s Factory of the Future and Digital Innovation Laboratory also offered additional insights into this aspect.

“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.”

“We are delighted to work with the forward-thinking Brimbank Council, and utilise 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 globally.”

Brimbank City Council to tackle development

Brimbank’s Mayor Cr Jasmine Nguyen also shared his views on this development.

“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.”

“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.”

“Council is pleased to work with Swinburne and Optus on this ground-breaking project to lead the way for other councils considering 5G for road and roadside asset condition monitoring.”