Spark claims a first in 5G cars - Mobile World Live

Spark claims a first in 5G cars

13 MAR 2019

Spark New Zealand partnered with autonomous vehicle technology provider Ohmio Automotion to test what it claimed is the first driverless vehicle in the country to be connected by 5G.

In a statement, the operator said the test is being carried out in a controlled area in Auckland’s Wynyard Quarter Innovation Precinct using its pre-commercial 5G network deployed at its 5G Innovation Lab, which it opened in November 2018 to showcase the technology to local businesses.

The car was developed by Ohmio Automation, a New Zealand-based company which has trialled autonomous vehicles at Christchurch airport. Spark’s car was upgraded with new technology to enable integration with the 5G test network.

New opportunities
Mahmood Hikmet, head of R&D at the vehicle company, said: “We believe this test with Spark is only the second of its type in the world. Today has demonstrated some of the exciting opportunities 5G will enable for our autonomous car technology.”

He said a significant drop in latency will give cars human-like reflexes, and opens up multiple possibilities for connected infrastructure and smart cities.

The 5G-connected car carries up to four people, who can book it using a tablet. The dashboard displays what the car is monitoring in real time using LiDAR technology.

While the vehicle is capable of driving itself at up to 25km/h, the trial will cap top speed at 7km/h. It will cover a programmed test drive loop in about seven minutes.

Colin Brown, Spark’s lead for network evolution, said the partnership demonstrates the potential of 5G goes far beyond the speed of mobile phones and wireless broadband connections.

Spark previously stated it aims to launch the country’s first commercial 5G network at Auckland Harbour in July 2020.

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Joseph Waring

Joseph Waring joins Mobile World Live as the Asia editor for its new Asia channel. Before joining the GSMA, Joseph was group editor for Telecom Asia for more than ten years. In addition to writing features, news and blogs, he...

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