WNCG Launches 6G@UT Research Center
PRESS RELEASE: New 6G Research Center Unites Industry Leaders and UT Wireless Experts
Teaming up with industry titans including Samsung, NVIDIA, and more, researchers at The University of Texas at Austin are launching 6G@UT, a new research center to lay the groundwork for 6G, the next generation of wireless technology.
5G is just emerging as the dominant cellular technology after years of research and innovation that includes important contributions by UT Austin wireless researchers and alumni. With new technologies on the horizon such as self-driving cars and air taxis, holographic video conferencing, ubiquitous robotics and immersive augmented reality, UT Austin is cementing its leadership in wireless innovation with this major research effort on 6G.
“The advances in both wireless communications and machine learning over the past decade have been incredible, but separate,” said 6G@UT Director Jeffrey Andrews, a professor in UT Austin’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. "Coupled with vast new sensing and localization abilities, 6G will be defined by an unprecedented native intelligence, which will transform the ability of the network to provide incredible services.”
Founding 6G@UT affiliates Samsung, AT&T, NVIDIA, Qualcomm and InterDigital will each fund at least two projects for three years at the center. Researchers from the companies will work alongside UT faculty members and students to develop wireless-specific machine learning algorithms, advanced sensing technologies, and core networking innovations that will be the backbone of 6G.
The next generation of wireless will be infused with technologies that have come of age during the past decade: ubiquitous sensing, machine learning and the ability to use higher frequency spectrum at mmWave and THz bands. These technologies will be at the heart of the research happening at the 6G@UT center, and they will play a critical role not only in the devices and applications running 6G but in managing the network itself.
Radio waves not only facilitate communication, but also sensing and localization, via radar and GPS, for example. The introduction of THz bands and the superior sensing resolution through massively dense antenna arrays will allow carriers to better monitor the quality of their networks in different places — from office towers to busy downtown areas to far-flung rural locales. 6G networks will be loaded with radar, vision, audio, lidar, thermal, seismic and broadband software-defined radio sensors that will provide unprecedented situational awareness to applications and devices running on the network.
“5G’s vision of sensing has been insufficiently bold,” said Todd Humphreys, associate professor in UT Austin’s Department of Aerospace Engineering and Engineering Mechanics. “6G should begin with the premise that sensing is not just for reacting to conditions, but anticipating them, so that vital links to automated vehicles, AR/VR headsets, and other latency-sensitive applications can be maintained with utter reliability.”
Other major pillars of the new center, and crucial parts of 6G, include the need to open new spectrum and low Earth orbit satellite links to improve coverage across rural and urban areas and design new network architectures to enable better resource and infrastructure sharing.
The 6G@UT center is spun out of the Cockrell School’s Wireless Networking & Communications Group, a 19-year-old research center with more than 25 faculty members and 130 students and researchers. WNCG has established UT Austin as a global leader in wireless technology, and its researchers have made important breakthroughs that helped enable 4G and 5G technology. Students graduating from UT Austin have played important roles in creating and standardizing these technologies at WNCG’s industrial affiliates.
Faculty members involved with 6G@UT are Jeffrey Andrews, Todd Humphreys, Sanjay Shakkottai, Gustavo de Veciana, François Baccelli, Al Bovik, Constantine Caramanis, Sandeep Chinchali, Alex Dimakis, Brian Evans, Hyeji Kim, Aryan Mokhtari, Lili Qiu, Sujay Sanghavi, Atlas Wang, Haris Vikalo, Jon Tamir, Andreas Gerstlauer, Joydeep Ghosh, José del R. Millán, Edison Thomaz and Nanshu Lu.
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The new 6G@UT research center kicks off with Qualcomm, AT&T, Samsung, NVIDIA and InterDigital as “founding affiliates.” Each of these companies has agreed to partner with researchers and support two projects over three years. Here’s what leaders from the affiliates had to say about the center:
“Samsung is excited to embark on the approaching 6G era with UT Austin, which is one of the leading global universities on wireless research. Together, we will unlock the potential of machine learning in future networks and devices, harness the power of new spectrum in THz bands, and bring to life futuristic applications such as holographic calls and immersive AR/VR.”
--- Charlie Zhang, senior vice president of engineering and head of the Standards and Mobility Innovation Team at Samsung Research America
“6G will be an inflection point for the use of AI and machine learning in sensing and wireless communications. We are excited to partner with the UT Austin team on this innovative 6G research that will help realize the communications systems of the future.”
--- Ronnie Vasishta, senior vice president of telecommunications at NVIDIA
"Collaborative research projects are integral to shaping our technology road map, and InterDigital is thrilled to be working alongside The University of Texas and industry peers to establish 6G@UT. This collaborative endeavor will drive advancements in embedded machine learning and sensing technologies to enable new physical experiences in a zero-latency world."
--- Donald Butts, senior director of strategy at InterDigital
“Driving wireless technology research and innovation forward to enable new applications is a key priority for Qualcomm, and we are proud to collaborate with UT Austin on their 6G@UT research center in our shared vision to embrace foundational technology intersections with industry for new verticals.”
--- John Smee, vice president of engineering and head of wireless research at Qualcomm
“AT&T is excited to collaborate with UT Austin’s new 6G@UT research center to help create the next generation of wireless technology. From the application of AI/ML in the RAN to leveraging network sensing and added spectrum bands, 6G will enable new and transformative applications. In our long collaboration with UT Austin, they have demonstrated a unique ability to help define advanced wireless technologies and contribute valuable and targeted research. This new effort continues our collaboration into a new era of wireless communications.
--- David Wolter, assistant vice president, radio technology at AT&T