Vodafone 5G network enables first autonomous vehicle testing on UK public roads

Vodafone is partnering with the Midlands Future Mobility (MFM) consortium to test Connected and Automated Vehicles along 186 miles of urban, rural and highway roads including Birmingham and Coventry city centres.

  • Connected and Automated Vehicles (CAVs) will harness high-speed, ultra-low latency connectivity of Vodafone 5G network to share information about traffic and hazards in real time

  • Vodafone’s 5G network will cover at least 80% of MFM testbed, making the West Midlands one of the most connected environments in the country

  • The route offers a combination of mini-city campuses, urban, rural and highway roads along which CAV trials will be supported

These vehicles will ‘talk’ to each other by sharing information about traffic, crashes and other hazards in real time on Vodafone’s ultra-low latency 5G network.

To understand vehicle performance in different real-world situations, the route will incorporate a variety of roads – urban, suburban, highways – as well as major interchanges including the new HS2 hub.

Vodafone 5G will deliver the high speed and low latency that is crucial to avoid collisions, when every millisecond counts.

Increased bandwidth will also allow the sharing of high definition images between infrastructure and vehicles, which will help an autonomous vehicle make sense of its environment and operate without human involvement.

“5G has a huge role to play in Connected and Autonomous Mobility. Bringing 5G to a much larger area with a leading-edge company like Vodafone, means MFM will reach and remain at the forefront of 5G development in the UK for years to come.”

Vodafone has already explored similar applications in the 5G Mobility Lab at the Aldenhoven Testing Center in Germany, and how technology can minimise human error (a factor in more than 90% of road accidents).

By employing cutting-edge mobile radio technology and a network of smart sensors, we can move closer to a world where cars can see round corners, through obstructions and over hills, and anticipate pedestrians walking into the street. This will make our roads even safer, optimise traffic flow and improve carbon emissions.

Phase one of the testbed will focus on connected vehicles, carrying a driver and possibly another person to monitor performance. Further tests could include more autonomous driver-assisting systems such as lane centring and speed limiting.

Who knows, we may see vehicles making their own way through the West Midlands very soon.

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