Advanced 5G network deployment has begun at Millbrook Proving Ground in Bedford, as part of the AutoAir project testing the future of connected and autonomous vehicle (CAV) technologies.
Over the coming months AutoAir will deliver pervasive 4G and 5G connectivity at Millbrook Proving Ground though a dense network of base stations around the test tracks. This will enable accurate location and connectivity trials on site for the first time.
The AutoAir project is a consortium of partners lead by Airspan Networks, hosted at Millbrook’s vehicle test site. It is an accelerated development programme for 5G technology and is based on 5G New Radio small cells that operate on a “neutral host” basis. The shared neutral host platform allows multiple public and private 5G operators to simultaneously use the same infrastructure using network slicing, which can radically improve the economics for 5G networks.
In October 2017, Millbrook announced that it had successfully bid to become one of the leading test beds for CAV testing in the UK. It is working in collaboration with the UK Atomic Energy Authority’s Centre for Remote Applications for Challenging Environments, as part of the project co-funded by the Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles through Meridian.
Margot James, Minister for Digital & Creative Industries, said: “I am thrilled to see such good progress being made on the AutoAir 5G testbed. This fantastic project highlights the opportunities that 5G connectivity on our roads offers – including the potential to support connected and autonomous vehicles. We want the UK to be a world leader in 5G and our Future Telecoms Infrastructure Review, published yesterday, sets out how we will deliver this.”
Peter Stoker, chief engineer for connected and autonomous vehicles, at Millbrook, added: “The start of this network deployment sends a fantastic message to developers and innovators in the transport and automotive industries. The technology that will enable them to accelerate their programmes is being made available, now.”
Millbrook provides a safe and secure environment for controlled to semi-controlled testing of ADAS (advanced driver assistance systems) and autonomous experiments and a natural, real-world, extension to its customers’ software engineering processes. A digital model of its proving ground is also being made available to vehicle manufacturers and CAV developers to take full advantage of its facilities.