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High-speed testing at Millbrook

  • 2 minute read
  • Published by Crispin Moller on 27 Jul 2020
  • Last modified 3 Aug 2020
Millbrook Proving Ground gets 5G on track By Joseph Flaig

Amid the gentle country lanes of rural Bedfordshire lie some much more challenging tracks.

Alpine routes wind through trees and over hills. Rough off-road sections test the durability of even the toughest vehicles. 

This is not the Center Parcs holiday village – that is just to the south – but Millbrook Proving Ground, the UK’s premier automotive test facility. Established in the mid-1960s by General Motors, the centre has 70km of track, with every type of surface imaginable. The hilly and off-road sections join to a vast, high-speed loop to put vehicles through their paces. 

And now, standing at the side of the track, are 59 masts beaming ultra-low latency 5G mobile data across the site, fed by 19km of fibre. The infrastructure is part of the AutoAir 5G testbed, a project aiming to develop the mobile data technology and explore its applications for the automotive sector and beyond. 

The next-generation network will enable huge advances in vehicle connectivity and autonomy, but – as with 4G – its full capabilities will not be reached for years. Some of its ultimate applications are not even at the drawing board stage, says AutoAir project director Peter Claydon, but engineers from the testbed and its customers are starting to tap that boundless potential. 

This is where the future of 5G could be determined. 

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