In what is said to mark a major milestone for developing connected vehicles by creating “vehicle networks”, Horiba Mira has teamed up with Vodafone to bring 5G to its Midlands headquarters using the next-generation network technology to improve the safety, efficiency and convenience of driverless vehicles.
Claiming to be home to one of the world’s most advanced set of facilities for engineering self-driving vehicles, Horiba Mira is a global provider of engineering consultancy, research, verification and validation services to the automotive, defence, aerospace and rail sectors. It works in collaboration with vehicle manufacturers and suppliers around the world, providing support ranging from individual product tests to turnkey multi-vehicle design, development and build programmes.
Horiba Mira’s suite of over 40 major facilities has 100km of specialised proving ground. The company said its latest investment would see Vodafone deploy and build a 4G and 5G mobile private network at the company’s Nuneaton site. This is intended to expand what Horiba Mira describes as its unique self-driving capabilities, which already includes expertise in the rising cyber security threats facing driverless technologies as well as the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in unmanned ground vehicles in the defence sector.
Horiba Mira is also a key member of the Automotive Council – the organisation that oversees the UK’s strategy on driverless vehicles – which believes creating this 5G capability is an important breakthrough in taking self-driving technology to the next stage of mainstream deployment and mass commercialisation.
The 5G offering will be used by Horiba Mira’s clients, namely automakers, self-driving disruptors and their suppliers, to push the boundaries of driverless technologies through new forms of engineering, testing, verification and validation.
The Vodafone 5G technology will allow vehicles to communicate with each other and the surrounding infrastructure, including traffic signals, in near-real time. By communicating with other vehicles, they are said to be able to react much quicker to fast-evolving emergency situations, form co-operative groups of vehicles for more efficient delivery of goods, and even improve air quality through better route planning and more efficient operation.
Anne Sheehan, Vodafone UK
“We’re delighted to be partnering with Vodafone in bringing 5G to our Nuneaton headquarters, which, working alongside automakers around the world over the last decade, puts us at the forefront of developing and verifying cutting-edge driverless technologies,” said Chris Reeves, head of connected and autonomous vehicle technologies at Horiba Mira.
“As the self-driving industry transitions from developing standalone autonomous vehicles to delivering self-driving vehicles that can communicate with each other and the surrounding infrastructure, having access to Vodafone’s 5G technology is a huge boost for the sector as a whole. It will enable us to work and collaborate with the industry’s biggest players to ensure their technologies are safe, robust, convenient and efficient to hit our roads in the near future.”
The involvement with Horiba Mira is the second foray by the mobile network operator into 5G for autonomous vehicles in the midlands in a matter of weeks. In October 2020, the UK’s largest real-world connected and automated mobility (CAM) testbed, Midlands Future Mobility, announced Vodafone as its latest partner in a facility that will trial connected and automated vehicles.
Commenting on the latest deal, Anne Sheehan, business director at Vodafone UK, said: “Our 5G technology makes self-driving vehicles on our roads not just a possibility, but a reality. This mobile private network will play a huge role in supporting Horiba Mira’s cutting-edge work on the development and testing of driverless technologies.”