O2’s new 5G experiment could get driverless cars back on the fast lane

O2 announced on Thursday that it will be the public and private network provider for testing connected and autonomous vehicles (CAV) at the Millbrook Proving Ground in Bedfordshire.

O2 will be turning on 5G connectivity to Millbrook’s testing facilities from June 2019, ahead of the network’s rollout across Belfast, Cardiff, Edinburgh and London later in the year.

How will this help driverless cars? Well, 5G’s low-latency and high capacity is going to let vehicles toss huge amounts of data back to cloud-based transport systems. This will include 4K video and all sorts of telemetry, which will help improve road safety and with the management of traffic flow.

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Earlier this year, 5G was testing and it was found that a McLaren sports car could send and receive 1 Gbit/s whilst going around the track at 160 MPH. Hopefully, driverless cars won’t all be going at that speed, but it’s a proof of concept for the whole deal.

The tech is still very much up in the air, but 02 is now going to be a key part of the technologies development in the U.K as part of the AutoAir 5G product. AutoAir, according to the press release, is “looking to accelerate the adoption of connected and self-driving technology in the U.K” and has already snagged nearly £10m in funding from the government and private industry.

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Also joining the project is engineering firm Atkins, who has signed up to provide the project with their design and engineering expertise.

Brendan O’Reilly, O2’s Chief Technology Officer, said in a post on 02’s site: “5G will play a key role in how our country develops over the next few years. If implemented properly, 5G has the potential to drive economic growth, create jobs and enable a new host of technologies – including self-driving vehicles. That’s why we’re delighted to be supporting the trial activity at Millbrook, alongside ambitious partners who share our vision of building a truly Mobile Britain.”

What do you make of 02’s 5G plans? Excited about the future of driverless cars? Enthuse in our general direction on Twitter, why don’t you