Saab, Ericsson Launch Airport Technology to New Heights with New 5G Aviation Research Lab at Purdue University
Saab and Ericsson open a new “lab-to-life” research center in partnership with Purdue University as a proving ground for 5G aviation applications and future technologies.
Saab, Ericsson and Purdue University celebrated the creation and opening of a 5G aviation research lab at Purdue earlier this month. Building on Saab’s portfolio of airport safety products, Ericsson’s communications technology and Purdue’s legacy of aviation innovation, the three organizations’ partnership will bring the benefits of private 5G to life at airports, starting at Purdue University Airport (LAF).
Leaders from all three organizations described Purdue University’s newest innovation platform as a “lab-to-life” for academics, researchers and businesses working to test and develop potential applications of private 5G networks in real-life scenarios.
“This solution has incredible potential for applications to improve safety, security and operations at airports around the world,” said Robert Ulibarri, vice president and general manager, Saab. “Saab is proud to be the first industry partner to use this dedicated 5G network provided by Ericsson.”
The research center will test high-performance 5G networks and their potential applications in real-life scenarios, showcasing how state-of-the-art airport systems can use 5G technology to improve network bandwidth and support operations and security at airports of all sizes. Replacing hardwired networks and their fiber-optic cables with private 5G networks will also give airports increased flexibility on infrastructure and renovation projects, making airport improvements and innovation easier than ever before. The research center will be operated through the Purdue Research Foundation.
Saab’s contributions to the partnership will provide enhanced efficiency, safety and security via its Aerobahn™ platform, SAFE Event Management security platforms and ADS-B sensors. Ericsson, a leading information and communication technology developer, will provide the 5G network. Keren Ronan, director of alliances and business development for Ericsson, described the technology as a “more sophisticated network that allows much more sophisticated operations."
This new research center is the culmination of years of innovative partnerships among Saab, Ericsson and Purdue. Saab began its partnership with Purdue University in 2019 and opened an advanced manufacturing facility in Purdue’s Discovery Park District in 2021. That state-of-the-art facility supports the production of the T-7A Red Hawk, which will train the next generation of U.S. Air Force fighter and bomber pilots for decades to come.
Saab and Ericsson, both founded in Sweden with divisions in the U.S., have collaborated on radar technology development and aviation integration for decades. This history of collaboration and familiarity made the partnership at Purdue a natural fit and facilitated the seamless integration of Ericsson’s private 5G network with Saab’s airport security systems at the research center.
“Purdue University Airport is one of the handful of airports operated at a research university in the U.S.,” said Mung Chiang, president, Purdue University. “And Purdue’s Discovery Park District, next to our airport, has provided a lab-to-life ecosystem where cutting-edge technologies are deployed before any other locations in the country. No other location is better suited for these exciting 5G innovations and network management solutions that will impact people’s lives around the globe.”
“This project is especially exciting as a research endeavor,” said Erik Smith, president & CEO, Saab, Inc. “On the one hand, we can see immediate applications from private 5G network integration at Purdue’s airport. On the other hand, the heart of this project is the open innovation platform. We’re creating a research center around established known capabilities, and then looking forward to see where this technology can go in the future.”