Ericsson, Saab and Purdue University are to develop a ‘lab to life’ 5G network at Purdue University Airport in Indiana.  

Purdue University Airport, in collaboration with industry partners Ericsson and Saab, will create a unique 5G network that will serve as a lab to life proving ground for academics, researchers and business to develop commercial solutions that can be replicated to improve operations and security at airports of all sizes.

5G innovation
This project aims to bring to life the benefits of private 5G for airports, facilitating the testing of new high-performance networks in real-life scenarios.

In today’s environment, airports install sensors and systems that require hardwired network connections, often requiring physical connection points via trenches for copper lines or fibre-optic cables. Alternatively, airports can consider point-to-point radio frequency links, which are often unreliable, or public cellular connections that come with subscription fees and consumer-oriented performance limitations.

The collaboration between Purdue University, Ericsson and Saab at Purdue Airport makes this approach obsolete, the organisations said. With the technology exhibited at Purdue, airports will have more flexibility to add or relocate products when going through construction phases, saving time and resources for operators and consumers.

The partnership
Ericsson will contribute a private 5G network for the Purdue Research Foundation to operate at Purdue University Airport. The university’s public-use airport, it is located in the southwest portion of the West Lafayette campus. It conducts over 125,000 aircraft operations annually, making it Indiana’s second-busiest airport.

Saab will install Aerobahn, a platform that unlocks airport efficiency for airlines and ramp management. It will also install SAFE Event Management platforms, a security platform used in airport operation centres, as well as deploying ADS-B sensors to track aircraft. These investments will improve landside operational safety and efficiency, as well as improve airside security.

Purdue will provide use of its airport as well as the lab to life testbed established throughout Discovery Park District at Purdue, a 400-acre, mixed-use development adjacent to the university’s campus.

Troy Hege, vice president of innovation and technology for Purdue Research Foundation, which manages Discovery Park District at Purdue, said, “Expanding the lab to life platform to Purdue Airport creates great opportunities to advance aviation and mobility innovation and education in partnership with industry, faculty and students. The combination of Purdue’s operational airport, research faculty and students with Ericsson’s Private 5G network and Saab’s sensor arrays and operating systems is an innovation and education asset that is unlike anything else that exists today.”

Image: Purdue University/Charles Jischke