A European University is Testing 5G for Self-Driving Vehicles

The University of Warwick, in collaboration with NI, will be conducting tests of 5G-enabled services for autonomous and connected vehicles.
The University of Warwick will be conducting ongoing tests into using 5G connectivity in autonomous vehicles. (Image source: WMG at the University of Warwick). 

The University of Warwick, in collaboration with National Instruments (NI), has installed and will be testing Europe's first over-the-air 5G New Radio test user equipment. Using equipment provided by NI, the tests will be conducted on the university's Midlands Future Mobility (MFM) testbed and will involve connected autonomous vehicles using 5G connectivity to share sensor data with each other and to communicate with roadside infrastructure.

University of Warwick researchers will be conducting ongoing research into areas including using shared sensor data for remote driving and enhancing vehicle perception as well as using 5G to stream infotainment content to vehicle passengers.

“Crucial to our research strategy is the ability to understand and demonstrate the potential of 5G communications systems to our project partners early in their product development cycle,” Dr. Matthew Higgins, an associate professor at the Warwick Manufacturing Group (WMG) at the University of Warwick said. “NI’s latest 5G test solution enables us to conduct standard-compliant, real-time 5G link performance tests inside both a controlled lab environment as well as outdoors in campus trials before commercial hardware is available.”

WMG’s advanced 5G mmWave test facility includes some of Europe’s most advanced 5G mmWave testing equipment. In 2018 researchers at WMG set a 5G communications speed record when they were able to send an over-the-air transmission to an autonomous vehicle traveling at low speed at a data rate of 2.867 gigabits per second. This is the equivalent of transmitting a full, HD-quality film in less than 10 seconds, according to the researchers.

Regarding the 5G speed record, Higgins said, “These controlled trials are critical to better understand the capabilities of 5G in millimeter wave bands, and how infrastructure providers and vehicle manufacturers must carefully plan and deploy their 5G service and application rollout over the next few years.”

The University of Warwick has said its new test installation will further its relationships with industrial partners regarding connectivity, technology verification, and validation. The researchers also say their work will have implications beyond automotive and can be carried over into other applications of 5G such as manufacturing and Industry 4.0 use cases where high throughput, over-the-air connectivity is needed.

Chris Wiltz is a Senior Editor at  Design News covering emerging technologies including AI, VR/AR, blockchain, and robotics.

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