Vantec, a part of Hitachi Transport Systems Ltd, has begun testing what’s being billed as the UK’s first 5G connected autonomous truck.
Following the partnership with truck manufacturer Terberg and the arrival of the updated autonomous and electric tractor unit in the North East in March, the 5G CAL (Connected and Automated Logistics) proof of concept trial aims to be the first in the UK to deliver Zero Emission Automated Logistics.
Terberg’s HGV is on-site at Vantec in Sunderland and has now been equipped with autonomous and teleoperation technology. Using a private 5G network, the system allows remote teleoperations to inform a team member (driver) to switch from autonomous operation to remote driver controls to overcome any unexpected conditions such as an obstacle or unexpected object on the road.
The 5G CAL team has also embraced IoT opportunities with project partner StreetDrone, which has added a series of drive by wire components and live sensors as well as cameras (standard and LiDAR) on the vehicle’s roof. When combined with the additional LiDARs and cameras installed along the route, it provides the truck with an extended field of view, augmenting its ability to react appropriately to changes in the external environment.
The 5G CAL pilot is a proof of concept to prove that an autonomous truck can be automated to drive between Vantec and Nissan. Driven by an ambition to automate deliveries between suppliers and facilities, this proof of concept hopes to boost the connected autonomous mobility sector, in an inherently safe environment (on the test track). This will give rise to the first commercial opportunities and a carefully managed rollout on to public roads.
Says Julia Lopez, Digital Infrastructure Minister:
“The 5G technology being trialled in Sunderland could be crucial to boosting the UK’s productivity and reducing emissions, so I’m thrilled the government has been instrumental in making this project a reality.
“We’ve funded dozens of cutting-edge trials like this across the country to ensure we unleash the true potential of 5G to level up our economy and improve people’s lives.”
Adds Paul Butler, CEO of the North East Automotive Alliance (NEAA):
“The North East automotive sector is a beacon of productivity, we continually strive for manufacturing excellence and this project is yet another example of how the North East leads the way. Industrial digitalisation provides the next step change in manufacturing productivity, we must continue to embrace technology with forward thinking digital infrastructure planning from partners such as Sunderland City Council.”
The 5G CAL project was awarded a share of £30 million funding through 5G Create, an open competition combining British creativity with innovative new uses for 5G as part of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport’s £200 million 5G Testbeds and Trials programme (5GTT).