StreetDrone, the Oxford-based autonomous technology company, has won UK Government funding as part of a consortium tasked with delivering an autonomous logistics capability to Nissan’s Sunderland car plant. The Department for Culture, Media and Sport grant will be used to develop 5G connected and self-driving 40-tonne trucks capable of moving parts and assemblies between Nissan’s Sunderland manufacturing plant and local businesses contributing to the car maker’s just-in-time supply chain.
The 800 acre Nissan site in Sunderland is Europe’s most efficient car plant and the proof-of-concept project will assess how 5G connected and autonomous logistics operations can drive more efficiency into industrial supply chain operations.
The project, termed ‘5G CAL’ – or 5G Connected and Autonomous Logistics – will build on StreetDrone’s pioneering 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.
The 5G project will require StreetDrone to develop both 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.
The consortium is made up of businesses and institutions including Sunderland City Council, Newcastle University, Vantec, Coventry University, Connected Places Catapult, The North East Automotive Alliance and Perform Green.
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.”
For his part, Mike Potts, StreetDrone’s CEO believes that logistics can be one of the first commercially viable autonomous services and the 5G CAL project provides an ideal testbed for the roll-out of a UK-developed autonomous product. “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,” he said.
Mark Preston, StreetDrone’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.”