West Midlands to trial driverless cars with O2 UK

Driverless cars are expected to hit roads by 2021 with 5G to be launched next year

O2 UK has penned a partnership with Wireless Infrastructure Group (WIG) to bring connectivity for driverless vehicle test bed trials in the West Midlands.

The UK government had promised driverless cars will hit roads by 2021. O2 has committed to this ambition by developing what it claims to be Europe’s largest fibre connected small cell network, to support trials of driverless vehicles in the West Midlands.

O2 will provide the connectivity along a 50-mile route that runs through Birmingham and Coventry. Additionally, the project will lay the foundations for a rapid deployment of 5G connectivity when it becomes available.

The project is due to be launched in 2020,  the scheme is part of the Midlands Future Mobility project, a year before autonomous cars are expected to be on UK roads.

In an O2 report earlier this year this year smarter and connected cities will see problems reduce due to 5G such as traffic congestion, which can potentially be cut by 10 per cent and save the UK economy up to £880 million a year in lost productivity caused by congestion and help to reduce CO2 emissions by 370,000 metric tonnes per year.

O2 CTO Brendan O’Reilly said: “Following our successful deployment of the UK’s first centralised radio network (C-RAN) in Aberdeen, in partnership with WIG, we will be using this same cutting-edge technology across what we expect to be Europe’s largest fibre connected small cell network”.

West Midlands Mayor Andy Street added: “As the heart of the UK’s future mobility research and development, and the UK’s first region-wide 5G testbed, the West Midlands is well-positioned to create thousands of new jobs in the industries of the future.”