Home5G & Beyond5G on a drone enables remote control of forestry machine in Sweden

    5G on a drone enables remote control of forestry machine in Sweden


    The test is part of an ongoing project co-funded by Vinnova and the programme for Advanced Digitalization

    A drone acting as a mobile 5G base station has been used in a test carried out in a forest outside Västerås, central Sweden to control a forestry machine remotely. The test, successfully completed in May, was part of a research project that involved partners Mittuniversitetet, Telia, Ericsson, Skogforsk, SCA, Volvo CE and Biometria. It was co-funded by Vinnova and the program for Advanced Digitalization.

    The project group passed a milestone in November 2021 when it remotely controlled a timber loader at SCA’s Torsboda terminal outside Timrå in northern Sweden. The group’s next goal was to use a drone with a portable mobile base station to extend 5G network coverage.

    After a basic technical briefing, the forestry machine was transported to a clear-cutting site where it was connected using 5G technology mounted on a drone. During the test, the drone was about 500m from the forestry machine but created a coverage area extending up to 3km. The driver of the forestry machine was in Skogforsk’s remote control lab in Uppsala, roughly 80km away.

    Safety first

    Petrus Jönsson, a researcher and deputy programme manager at Skogforsk, who participated in the test, said, “In this test, we chose to remotely control a forwarder in a clearing to assess the connection via the drone. In the next step, we want to test connecting and remotely controlling a soil preparation machine, which is a much heavier machine that operates in inaccessible terrain.

    “The goal for us is to improve the working environment for the drivers, and soil preparation workers, in particular, operate in a very tough environment.”


    The project aims to investigate how drone technology and 5G technology could enable remote areas around Sweden to be worked with remote-controlled vehicles. Among other things, Mittuniversitetet’s researchers are studying the latency and reliability in data communication, which is very important when remotely controlling machinery, as Professor Mattias O’Nils explains.

    “We have collected data from the test with the drone and will now analyze and evaluate the results,” O’Nils says. “We will also do comparative studies with other types of connections such as Wi-Fi-based networks and explore further possibilities with 5G.”