AutoAir project begins network deployment for 5G transport trials

By Sarah Wray 31 July 2018

5G transport

Advanced 5G test networks are being deployed at Millbrook Proving Ground in Bedford to begin the testing and validation of connected and autonomous vehicle (CAV) technologies.

The work is part of the AutoAir project, led by Airspan Networks. The initiative was awarded £4.1 million by the government in March this year, as one of six trials and testbeds to receive funding. Since then, the team has been designing the programme, and it is now moving into implementation.

AutoAir uses a neutral host model that enables multiple operators to share a single network provided by a third-party infrastructure provider. This approach aims to enable denser, targeted network coverage while minimising capital and operational expenditure. Other companies involved in AutoAir include RM, Blu Wireless, Quortus and McLaren.


The project will focus on solving challenges such as complicated cell-tower hand-offs and issues related to bandwidth and autonomous vehicles networks. It will also evaluate how 5G connectivity solutions could be transferrable to road and rail systems.

Over the next few months, AutoAir will continue to roll out pervasive 4G and 5G connectivity at the Millbrook site, using a dense network of base stations. This network is set to deliver Gbps low-latency connectivity. It will support the first UK example of accurate location and connectivity trials for autonomous vehicles in the UK, the partners say.

Since it is already used for traditional vehicle technology testing, the Milbrook site is seen as the ideal environment for trialling next-generation car technology. Researchers will be carrying out controlled and semi-controlled testing of advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS) and autonomous vehicles.

A digital model of the Millbrook proving ground is also being created so that vehicle manufacturers and CAV developers can use a virtual representation of the environment to develop their technologies.

Peter Stoker, Chief Engineer – Connected and Autonomous Vehicles, at Millbrook, said: “The start of this network deployment sends a fantastic message to developers and innovators in the transport and automotive industries. The technology that will enable them to accelerate their programmes is being made available, now. We are proud to be at the forefront of these developments; 5G, together with our advanced capabilities as part of the CAV testbed, will make a real difference in expediting thorough and, above all, safe testing and validation.”

The road to 5G

Attending the launch event at Millbrook, Margot James, Minister for Digital & Creative Industries, said that the AutoAir project highlights the potential 5G offers to transport systems and users. She reiterated the government’s aim for the UK to be a leader in 5G and highlighted the recently published Telecoms Infrastructure Review as a roadmap for how this will be achieved.

Useful read: What are 5G Testbeds?

About Sarah Wray

Technical Writer at

Sarah Wray is a technical writer with over 10 years' experience writing about technology, including telecoms, smart cities, data, IoT, aerospace, and more.

View more posts by Sarah Wray >>>

ETSI outlines fresh 5G protocol guidelines

The influential ETSI has published fresh 5G guidelines

CityFibre deploys massive pilot of 5G-ready infrastructure

CityFibre and Arqiva have announced the creation of a 15km high density fibre network.

Maximus Networks announces planned rollout of 5G phone boxes

The £150 million Max 3 hub project will fill the UK’s streets with multi-function...

EE will launch 5G in 16 cities in 2019 and we know which ones

EE has announced which UK cities will be the first to get upgraded to its 5G service.

EE pushes more 5G trial sites live and shares findings so far

EE has extended its live 5G trials in London, launching nine additional sites in...