University of Glasgow’s demonstration of remote robotics in higher education has attracted worldwide attention.

A testbed mobile network developed at the University of Glasgow with £1.6 million of funding from the Scotland 5G Centre, is creating a new “super immersive” learning experience and is seen as a game-changer for the industry.

A pioneering robotic arm which can be used remotely, gives students across the globe an immersive learning experience, and provides a blueprint to develop new commercial opportunities.

Regardless of where they are studying students can work on electronic circuits and experimental set-ups virtually and alongside the lecturer and other students.

The tele-operational, 5G robotic arm uses a haptic feedback controller that allows them to feel senses of touch, motion and pressure and the setup is also being adapted for other commercial applications where extended reality can be applied. This new technology is also suitable to offer remote access to specialist centres, such as the James Watt Nanofabrication Centre – a £35m state-of-the-art site that offers research and international collaboration in nanofabrication technologies.

The university has already demonstrated, with British Telecom, to the First Minister how training in such specialised facilities can be carried out using augmented/virtual reality (AR/VR) technology that provides an immersive tele-presence experience to remote learners.

Professor Muhammad Imran, who leads the Glasgow University research team, said: “The potential for 5G is remarkable and we have attracted interest from universities in the USA, China, the Far East and the Middle East. The higher quality of user experience offered by 5G connectivity enables us to offer specialised training without students entering the physical space.

“This has been particularly beneficial during the pandemic and coping with the restriction of movement.”

Paul Coffey, chief executive of the Scotland 5G Centre, said: “The test bed built at the University of Glasgow is creating a major step change in ideas and adoption of 5G technology.

“The ability for students to be able to take part in complex work from another country is exciting and beneficial for the learner and the academic partner. Giving remote access to world leading facilities to a larger number of people worldwide is hugely beneficial.”

Ziwen Li, a second-year undergraduate student at Glasgow College UESTC in China, added: “The remote robot has given me a fascinating and unique learning experience which undoubtedly will be useful in my future career.”