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Business & Economy

5G pilot positions North East as global leader in automated logistics

A pilot which will see 5G technology used in an operational automotive environment for the first time in the UK has been unveiled in Sunderland.

North, a UK-based Internet of Things service and solutions provider, has been appointed to design, build and support the £4.9 million operation, which will take place close to Vantec at the Nissan test track in Sunderland.

The project hopes to address the next innovation challenge of last mile logistics – the automation of a 40 tonne HGV.

It will see North partner with global telecommunications company Nokia to access the latest 5G technology.

Importantly, the project has the potential to support the continued revolution in Connected Automated Logistics (CAL) and provides a 5G core for the North East, positioning the region for further investment and growth.

Funding for the pilot was secured by a consortium including the North East Automotive Alliance, Sunderland City Council, Newcastle University and others.

As the principal contractor, project manager and system integrator, North will put in place the infrastructure required to test and demonstrate the operational 5G-enabled autonomous delivery.

The pilot hopes to enable the removal of the driver from the process and allow remote teleoperations to control the HGV.

Glen Williams, chief executive of North, said: “This is a significant milestone for 5G standalone technology in the UK.

“We know that the potential of 5G is tremendous, however, to realise it, we need to see more innovative projects such as this being driven forward across different sectors and UK regions.

“We are looking forward to working with all of the stakeholders to take the technology out of the testbed and into a safe and controlled operational manufacturing environment for the first time.”

Paul Butler, chief executive of the North East Automobile Alliance (NEAA), added: “5G enabled automated logistics is the next key innovation drive for last mile logistics across the automotive sector.

“This project has the potential to deliver significant efficiency gains and put the North East at the forefront of connected and automated logistics technology.

“I am delighted that North, and partner Nokia, were successful – they bring with them vast knowledge and experience which will be a major benefit to the project.”