AutoAir 5G Test Bed Launched at Millbrook

5G testing at Millbrook Proving Ground on the High Speed Circuit as part of the AutoAir consortium
  • 5G-enabled mobile network launched at Millbrook Proving Ground
  • Live demonstrations showed transmission of data to fast-moving vehicles at speeds of 1Gbps and a 70GHz data link in the event building
  • Launch event speakers included Mansoor Hanif (CTO, Ofcom), Brendan O'Reilly (CTO, Telefónica UK) and Regius Professor Rahim Tafazolli (Director 5G Innovation Centre, University of Surrey)
  • Part of the AutoAir project, which is bringing 5G  to the transport and technology sectors

The AutoAir consortium has demonstrated the UK’s only independent 5G-enabled infrastructure for connected and autonomous vehicles (CAVs) for the first time at Millbrook Proving Ground on Tuesday 12 February. The consortium, which is led by Airspan Networks and is hosted at Millbrook, is an accelerated programme of 5G technology for CAV development.

AutoAir’s launch event gave stakeholders in CAV development and 5G technology an opportunity to witness the transmission of data at 5G-like speeds of 1Gbps and understand the technical capabilities of 23 ‘small cell’ base station sites installed at Millbrook. This was demonstrated by a number of vehicles travelling at speed on Millbrook’s High Speed Circuit streaming live 4K video back to a screen on a bus that guests were travelling on.

The event also included keynote speeches from several key stakeholders in the 5G sector, including Mansoor Hanif (CTO, Ofcom), Brendan O'Reilly (CTO, Telefónica UK) and Regius Professor Rahim Tafazolli (Director 5G Innovation Centre, University of Surrey).

CAV developers now 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 5G test bed enables self-driving vehicle testing to be carried out in a secure environment using a private, tuneable mobile network. Developers can simulate weak and strong cell signal and understand the impact of hills and other terrain in a single location, while having access to all data generated during testing.

AutoAir at Millbrook is one of the most ambitious 5G Testbeds and Trials sites in the world. AutoAir is directly tackling the key 5G technology and system design challenges that CAVs create. The project has now completed the deployment of a hyper-dense small cell network that delivers ultra-high capacities which enables a range of new CAV use cases to be explored. Everyone in AutoAir consortium is excited to have reached this important milestone.Paul Senior, CSO of Airspan Networks and CEO of Dense Air

CAV developers can also create virtual events using augemented and virtual reality for vehicles on track, allowing them safely to test complex scenarios and edge cases. The 5G-enabled infrastructure makes it possible to monitor, gather and distribute vehicle test data such as video, telematics, tracking and control in real time. Applications include rail, infotainment, cyber security, simulation, network location trials and industrial Internet of Things (IoT).

The installation of the UK’s first independent 5G network at Millbrook demonstrates our commitment to ensure that our facilities are at the forefront of automotive development. The infrastructure launched today allows our customers to test and develop CAV systems to a quality and level of detail never before realised in this country.Alex Burns, President of Millbrook

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.

The AutoAir project is a great demonstration of how partnerships can help shape the use cases and drive the benefits that we all want to see from 5G. Test networks at sites like Millbrook will be crucial in understanding how 5G will enable the development of connected and autonomous vehicles as well as the associated business and consumer use cases which will transform the automotive sector.Brendan O’Reilly, CTO at Telefónica UK