Huawei, in partnership with Thailand National Broadcasting and Telecommunication Communication (NBTC) and Siriraj Hospital, has launched a new project to use 5G-powered self-driving vehicles to deliver medical supplies.
According to data from the UK’s Office for National Statistics, jobs such as bus drivers and hospital porters are particularly at risk from catching Covid-19 whilst at work, with both jobs in the top 20% when it comes to exposure. And this scheme will enable the transportation of goods around the Siriraj Hospital campus in Thailand, where workers face a similar risk to those in the UK. And the secretary-general of the Office of the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC), Takorn Tantasith, says that the project will take Thailand’s medical facilities into the “5G Era”.
“These are parts of the transition to the digital age,” Tantasith said. “The NBTC has been utilising 5G technology with remote medical services by connecting with Community Health Promotion Hospital and large local hospitals in piloting remote treatment of four diseases; eye diseases, skin diseases, blood pressure abnormalities and diabetes … The ongoing projects by the NBTC aim to drive greater benefits of 5G innovation into different aspects of life across the country.”
Becoming a 5G leader
Following a successful 5G spectrum auction, Thailand has become a 5G leader in the region, and the NBTC says that it recognises the competitive advantages of 5G technology across a number of different sectors.
“This is to get Thailand ready for digital transformation in driving our daily life, work and manufacturing forward,” Tantasith explained.
In the initial stage of the project, driverless vehicles will be used to transport and distribute medicines, which will be delivered via a contactless system, which will help reduce workload and infection risk among frontline workers.
“As a result of the COVID-19 situation, the safety of patients and medical workers must be prioritised, including effective use of resources,” said Dr. Prasit Watanapa, dean of the faculty of Medicine at Mahidol University. “Siriraj Hospital places importance on taking full advantage of digital technology in order to holistically increase the efficiency of medical services and operations. The pilot 5G unmanned vehicle project will enhance the central logistics system within the hospital.”