Oxford-based autonomous technology company StreetDrone is to develop a fleet of 5G connected and self-driving 40-tonne trucks capable of moving parts and assemblies between Nissan’s Sunderland plant and local businesses in its just-in-time supply chain.
The move comes after the firm successfully secured a grant from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.
The project termed ‘5G CAL’ – or 5G Connected and Autonomous Logistics – will assess how 5G connected and autonomous logistics operations can drive more efficiency into industrial supply chain operations.
It will also build on StreetDrone’s autonomy work that includes the stewardship of various open-source autonomous software solutions with a focus on low-speed applications, including urban and suburban metropolitan areas, campuses and manufacturing plants.
In delivering the project, StreetDrone will develop software and hardware solutions spanning redundant braking systems, a driving robot capable of complex articulated truck manoeuvres in confined areas and the integration of driverless software with telematic control for remote fleet management.
A consortium of businesses and institutions including Sunderland City Council, Newcastle University, Vantec, Coventry University, Connected Places Catapult, The North East Automotive Alliance and Perform Green is also involved.
Announcing government backing for the project and others, Matt Warman, Minister for Digital Infrastructure, said, “The new funding we are announcing today will help us pioneer new ways to seize the opportunities of 5G and bring tangible benefits for consumers and businesses across the country.”
Mike Potts, CEO of StreetDrone, said; “The reality is that autonomous cars are still many years from widespread adoption, however the technologies that we’ve already developed can be used in an industrial logistics setting and will quickly scale to many other similar contexts where reducing cost and increasing safety are critical factors in profitable operations.”
Mark Preston, the company’s co-founder added, “We are excited to work with the CAVL consortium in the North of England to demonstrate 5G as a key enabler in the roll-out of connected and autonomous vehicles. We look forward to augmenting StreetDrone’s capability in Level 4 autonomy and taking advantage of 5G benefits such as low latency teleoperation, vehicle-infrastructure communications and edge & cloud computing to make CAV logistics a commercially viable proposition and demonstrate this with an exciting end-user in Nissan Motor Manufacturing UK.”