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The UK's First Independent 5G Test Bed for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles due for Launch

5 February 2019

  • The Millbrook mobile network is set to be launched in February 2019 with live demonstrations and speakers including Mansoor Hanif (CTO, Ofcom), Brendan O'Reilly (CTO, Telefónica UK) and Regius Professor Rahim Tafazolli (Director 5G Innovation Centre, University of Surrey)
  • The installation will give CAV developers access to a wide area 4G/5G across Millbrook Proving Ground with speeds up to 1 Gbps
  • The activity is part of the AutoAir project, which is bringing 5G to the transport and technology sectors

The initial installation of the UK’s first independent 5G-enabled infrastructure for connected and autonomous vehicles (CAVs) at Millbrook is close to completion. The technology has been commissioned as part of Millbrook’s role in AutoAir, the world-leading consortium bringing 5G capabilities to the transport and technology industries, accelerating CAV development and validation in the UK.

The installation of the 5G-enabled network at Millbrook Proving Ground is scheduled for completion this quarter and will be launched in February. All the masts for the antennas needed to transmit 5G radio data are in place and in the process of being connected, 19km of fibre-optic cabling has been laid and the wireless equipment is being deployed. 23 ‘small cell’ base station sites will go live in February enabling the first live demonstrations of the technology during a launch event, with another 15 to follow.

When complete, CAV developers will have access to a low latency, wide-area wireless infrastructure that will work seamlessly across the entire Millbrook Proving Ground. This capability is crucial for the validation and testing of level three to level five autonomous vehicles, which require high speed, real-time connectivity to compare the 'real world' outcomes with the decision-making simulation.

The AutoAir project began in April 2018. The consortium, led by Airspan Networks and hosted at Millbrook, is a unique, accelerated development programme for 5G technology. Based on both 4G and 5G small cells that operate on a ‘neutral host’ basis, the infrastructure can simultaneously be used by multiple public and private mobile operators, making the network more economical.

Paul Senior, CSO of Airspan Networks and CEO of Dense Air says: “The rate of progress made at the Millbrook site in the installation of this unique 5G testing capability is very encouraging. When the installation is complete, it will mark a crucial milestone in the delivery of the AutoAir project, and in the wider development and validation of connected and autonomous vehicles using 5G networks.”

Alex Burns, President of Millbrook, said: “The development of connected and autonomous vehicles is continuing to move at great speed, so it is important that we do the same. The fast rate of progress in the installation of our 5G-enabled network is testament to the hard work and dedication of the consortium team to ensure CAV developers have all the facilities they need to engineer world-class technology. We are very much looking forward to the official launch on the 12th February.”

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