The largest real-world connected and automated mobility (CAM) testbed in the UK – consisting of over 300 miles of West Midlands’ roads overseen by Midlands Future Mobility – is to get new 5G macro coverage and a deeper level of simulation.
Thanks to the new partnership with mobile network provider Vodafone and Wireless Infrastructure Group, 80% of the Midlands Future Mobility route will have 5G connectivity – making the West Midlands one of the best connected environments in the country.
The Midlands Future Mobility project has also announced a new partnership with simulation firm Immense to provide large-scale simulations, bridging the gap between operational use cases (i.e the local performance of individual vehicles) and strategic use cases (i.e the global performance of the transportation system). This will leverage the learnings from other work packages to create a fully capable simulation environment that appeals to a range of testbed users.
5G can deliver faster data speeds than previous generations of mobile technology. It can also offer extremely low latency (the time it takes for data to complete its journey). This is crucial when it comes to avoiding collisions, where 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.
This summer, Vodafone and the Transport for West Midlands and West Midlands 5G committed to work in partnership to share information and expertise and develop cutting-edge transport systems and technology using the region’s growing 5G mobile network. Joining Midlands Future Mobility is the next step in this commitment.
“It’s increasingly clear that 5G has a huge role to play in CAM, in addition to more established comms methods which we’ve already deployed in Midlands Future Mobility,” says John Fox, programme director of Midlands Future Mobility. “Bringing 5G to a much larger area than first planned with a leading mobile operator in Vodafone, means Midlands Future Mobility will reach and remain at the forefront of 5G development in the UK for years to come. I’m also delighted to welcome Immense on board. Their advanced multi-actor simulation methods and capability perfectly complement the areas of simulation support for CAM creators that Midlands Future Mobility is already developing.”
Midlands Future Mobility is funded by business partners and the UK Government as part of the wider Zenzic CAM Testbed UK initiative that facilitates and promotes the development of connected and self- driving cars. Midlands Future Mobility is backed by a consortium of organisations, including WMG at the University of Warwick, Horiba Mira, AVL, Transport for West Midlands, Costain, Amey, Wireless Infrastructure Group, Coventry University and Highways England.
“Having industry leaders such as Vodafone join Midlands Future Mobility is a perfect example of the kind of collaboration that is needed for the UK to remain a world leader in the development of 5G for the CAM industry,” says Zenzic CEO Daniel Ruiz. “Zenzic is continuing to encourage this kind of cutting edge collaboration to make Connected and Automated Mobility a reality on UK roads by 2030 and this is a great step in the right direction.”
The Midlands Future Mobility route offers a combination of campus (mini-city), urban, rural and highways roads on which CAM trials can be supported. The route encompasses major city centres (Coventry and Birmingham) and key interchanges (rail, HS2 and Birmingham International Airport). The wide range of route types provides businesses with opportunities to trial different technologies, from low speed ‘shared space’ vehicles through to next generation Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) and autonomous vehicle technologies.