5G robotic arm allows Lions to autograph shirts from 8,000 miles away

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

By: Sport Industry Group

Vodafone has conducted the world’s first 5G shirt signing, bringing Lions players into a live autograph signing using a 5G robotic arm. 

With supporters unable to travel, Vodafone - which is the Lead Partner for the British & Irish Lions - aimed to bring fans closer to the Tour with the ‘8,000 Mile Auto5Graph’. 

After inviting a group of rugby super fans to meet Lions heroes not in South Africa, the brand then brought the fans to see the 5G-powered robot which was controlled by the Lions players in South Africa. The players then wrote a personal message onto a Lions jersey in real time.

The stunt used a precision robot, motion control technology, and Vodafone 5G network, allowing the pliers to sign the jerseys from more than 8,000 miles away. Using a tablet and a stylus in South Africa, players moved a robotic arm based in London, which mirrored the player’s hand movements, allowing them to write directly onto the fan’s jersey in real-time, while chatting on a video call.
“For the fans that would have gone on this Lions tour to South Africa, getting a signed shirt would be one of the highlights of the trip,” said Max Taylor, Consumer Director at Vodafone.

“The pandemic risked stopping that from happening – but we’ve used 5G to find a way to make it a reality. Throughout this tour, we’ve used technology and innovation to overcome barriers, and I’m delighted that we’ve given these fans a unique experience and something that they can treasure forever. 

“A 5G-signed shirt is going to be a priceless souvenir from what is already proving to be a memorable tour.”