The Millbrook proving ground will be equipped with 5G mobile infrastructure as part of the UK’s AutoAir project, turning the facility into a world-leading and fully independent testbed for 5G technology used in the development of connected and autonomous vehicles (CAV).
The AutoAir project brings together a large number of industry’s leading 5G players and is anchored by the work at Surrey University’s 5G Innovation Center (5GIC), with the aim of accelerating the validation and development of CAVs. In October 2017, Millbrook announced that it had successfully bid to become one of the leading testbeds for CAV testing in the UK, with the intention of creating a unique, controlled facility representative of an urban environment for their development. It is working in collaboration with the UK Atomic Energy Authority’s center for Remote Applications for Challenging Environments (RACE), as part of the project co-funded by the Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CCAV) through Meridian.
The AutoAir project is a consortium of partners lead by Airspan Networks and is to be hosted by the former General Motors, and now independent, proving ground at Millbrook. It is a unique, accelerated development program for 5G technology and is based on 5G New Radio (NR) small cells that operate on a ‘Neutral Host’ basis. The shared neutral host platform allows multiple public and private 5G operators simultaneously to use the same infrastructure using network slicing, which can radically improve the economics for 5G networks.
The project will see Millbrook build a fiber backbone and 23 ‘Small Cell’ base station sites. The testbed will allow CAV developers access to Gigabit/s, low latency, wide-area 5G wireless infrastructure that will work seamlessly across the entire proving ground at Millbrook. This capability is crucial for the validation and testing of SAE Level 3-5 autonomous vehicles, which require high speed, real-time connectivity to compare the ‘real world’ outcomes with the decision-making simulation.
“We are delighted to working with Millbrook on this project. It will greatly accelerate and enhance the development and validation of CAVs and the crucial role that 5G networks play in the safe and functional delivery of cutting-edge transport technology,” commented Paul Senior, chief strategy officer at Airspan Networks and CEO of Dense Air. “Millbrook’s facilities are unique in the UK, and there was no other obvious partner to deliver the capabilities that Millbrook will offer as part of this project.”
Alex Burns, president of Millbrook, said, “We are delighted to be supporting the AutoAir project. The facilities here at Millbrook are uniquely suitable for this type of testing and our proving ground in the UK is already being used for testing a spectrum of CAV technologies. With our ongoing investment in ADAS and CAV test infrastructure, the addition of the 5G capability will create one the world’s most comprehensive CAV test facilities.”