AT&T and NPS set sail on tactical edge and 5G at sea


AT&T has teamed up with the Naval Postgraduate School (NPS) to explore and develop 5G and edge computing-based maritime solutions primarily for national defence and homeland security.

Described by the two as "experiments", their work is expected to pave the way for unmanned and autonomous vehicles "that can improve critical elements of national defence", for example multi-domain situational awareness, command and control, training, logistics, predictive maintenance and data analytics.

Mike Galbraith, Department of the Navy (DON) chief digital and innovation officer said: “5G and multi-access edge computing capabilities are increasingly important in our personal lives and even more important to our warfighters.

"The collaboration between the Naval Postgraduate School and AT&T will help us explore better, faster means of collecting, disseminating, and analysing data at the tactical edge, which is vital to maintaining and exploiting battlespace awareness. Experiments conducted under the NPS-AT&T CRADA are expected to complement other DON efforts to apply 5G and Artificial Intelligence (AI) to enterprise and tactical uses.”

The "CRADA" – AKA collaborative research and development agreement – lasts three years and will see AT&T 5G networking and edge computing capabilities support an array of 5G-focused experiments on NPS facilities incorporating AI, robotics, IoT, ML, data analytics and smart base solutions.

One initiative is NPS' Sea Land Air Military Research (SLAMR) initiative, which will explore the development of 5G and edge computing-powered sea applications that connect crewed and non-crewed vessels and sensors.

Experiments will be conducted within the SLAMR’s multi-domain laboratory. The programme is also focused on providing all-domain maritime solutions for a broad array of defence, industry and commercial applications.

Eventually the plan is to have a command and aquatics operations facility with which to perform localised, unmanned aerial, surface, and underwater robotic vehicle activity. It is expected the facility and some of the experimental vehicles will be connected and powered by AT&T networking capabilities, including 5G and edge computing services.

Retired Vice Admiral Ann E. Rondeau, president, Naval Postgraduate School said: “Innovation occurs at the seams and intersections of practice and expertise and NPS provides an innovation hub where this applied 5G research can occur. AT&T’s experience with the existing 5G infrastructure on the Monterey Peninsula will facilitate our collaboration on the next generation of mobile networks. By working alongside experts from our faculty and industry partners, we can apply the operational experience of our graduate students to accelerate and enhance research into 5G-related naval maritime capabilities.”