Mobile phone network O2 is set to activate its 5G network in order to test driverless cars in Bedfordshire.
O2 will enable 5G connectivity to Millbrook testing facilities from June 2019, using its 2.3 GHz and 3.4GHz spectrum in advance of the first phase of its 5G rollout in Belfast, Cardiff, Edinburgh and London later this year.
The on-site network consists of 59 sites and 89 small cells and is operated by British wireless solution provider Dense Air. Under a 12 month agreement with the AutoAir project, O2 will integrate the sites and small cells into its public infrastructure.
The AutoAir 5G project is made up of a number of different partners from across the digital communications and automotive sectors, and has received a further £1.8 million in funding from DCMS taking the total project investment from the government to nearly £6 million. Matched industry funding totals more than £4.5 million.
The group looks to accelerate the adoption of connected and self-driving technology in the UK, via trials supported by members including Dense Air, Airspan Networks, Millbrook, Blu Wireless, Real Wireless, the University of Surrey’s 5G Innovation Centre and the R&D arm of motorsport racing team McLaren.
Brendan O’Reilly, O2’s Chief Technology Officer, said, ‘5G will play a key role in how our country develops over the next few years. If implemented properly, 5G has the potential to drive economic growth, create jobs and enable a new host of technologies – including self-driving vehicles.’
‘That’s why we’re delighted to be supporting the trial activity at Millbrook, alongside ambitious partners who share our vision of building a truly Mobile Britain,’ added O’Reilly.
Rabih Arzouni, CTO for Transport at Fujitsu UK told Smart Highways that, ‘The future of transport is notoriously difficult to predict; however we’re seeing a clear move towards increasingly connected and autonomous cars becoming the norm in just a few years’ time. Whilst this presents an exciting challenge for those investing in the transportation sector, there is no denying that we still need to prepare our transport infrastructure.’
‘Fortunately, emerging technologies – such as 5G – has the potential to support driverless vehicles. That’s because, given autonomous vehicles collect vast amounts of data through a multitude of sensors, for these vehicles to operate safely and reliably, they need to be able to respond to their environment in the right way, because any delay in processing speed can be the difference between life and death.’
‘Driverless cars could boost UK productivity by enabling employees to work while commuting, as well as reduce accidents on the road and the amount of land needed for parking. Leveraging 5G technology on our roads will be an important step in putting the connectivity in place that will eventually support driverless cars on the road,’concluded Arzouni.