Midlands Future Mobility

Vodafone and Midlands Future Mobility to trial 5G connected roads and automated vehicles

The largest real-world Connected and Automated Mobility (CAM) testbed in the UK announces Vodafone and Immense as its latest partners.

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Vodafone UK has teamed up with autonomous vehicle consortium, Midlands Future Mobility, to deploy 5G on key test routes in the West Midlands. Over 300 miles of West Midlands’ roads are set to trial connected and automated vehicles, making UK roads safer and allowing for more predictable goods delivery and journey times.

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.

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.

Vodafone will deploy new 5G macro coverage along the route to strengthen the capability of Midlands Future Mobility and thanks to 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.

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.

Commenting on the partnership, Anne Sheehan, Business Director, Vodafone UK, said:

“5G will help revolutionise transport on our roads. The ultra-reliability and high bandwidth of 5G will enable new progress for connected and autonomous vehicles, and we are delighted to bring our state-of-the-art 5G network to the Midlands Future Mobility project.”

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.

Immense will bring largescale simulations to Midlands Future Mobility, 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).

Robin North, CEO of Immense, said:

“Midlands Future Mobility will accelerate the transition to a world where we can enjoy safe, seamless journeys. At Immense, we’re delighted to join a highly skilled group of consortium partners and play our part to make this vision a reality.”

This will leverage the learnings from other work packages to create a fully capable simulation environment that appeals to a range of test-bed users. In collaboration with the other consortium members, Immense will enhance the capability of the Midlands Future Mobility digital assets to answer a range of questions around the impact of CAM.

Immense’s work has fundamental applications for regulation and permitting, and facilitates addressing questions such as:  How do we ensure ‘mobility for good’? How do we manage the network of the future? How do we deploy CAM?

John Fox, Programme Director of Midlands Future Mobility at WMG, commented:

“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. 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.”

The addition of Vodafone and Immense means the wealth of knowledge that companies can access when trialling their technology in the region will be second-to-none. Benefits include:

  • co-ordinated access to local authorities and highways agencies for testing, approvals and collaboration support;
  • understanding of the latest emerging standards in CAM;
  • support in test design and analysis campaigns from an experienced network;
  • access to experts with academic and industrial experience.

Daniel Ruiz, CEO of Zenzic, said:

“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. 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.”

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