Autonomous mobility technology company StreetDrone has won UK government funding as part of a consortium tasked with delivering an autonomous logistics capability to Nissan’s Sunderland car plant.
The UK Department for Culture, Media and Sport grant will be used to develop 5G connected and self-driving 40-tonne trucks capable of moving parts and assemblies between Nissan’s 800-acre Sunderland manufacturing plant and local businesses contributing to the car maker’s just-in-time supply chain.
The proof-of-concept project will assess how 5G connected and autonomous logistics operations can drive more efficiency into industrial supply chain operations.
Termed 5G CAL – or 5G Connected and Autonomous Logistics – the project will build on StreetDrone’s autonomy work that includes the stewardship of various open-source autonomous software solutions with a focus on low-speed applications, including urban and suburban metropolitan areas, campuses and manufacturing plants.
The 5G project will require StreetDrone to develop both software and hardware solutions spanning redundant braking systems, a driving robot capable of complex articulated truck manoeuvres in confined areas and the integration of driverless software with telematic control for remote fleet management.
Mike Potts, StreetDrone’s CEO said he believes that logistics can be one of the first commercially viable autonomous services and the 5G CAL project provides an ideal testbed for the roll-out of a UK-developed autonomous product.
“The reality is that autonomous cars are still many years from widespread adoption, however the technologies that we’ve already developed can be used in an industrial logistics setting and will quickly scale to many other similar contexts where reducing cost and increasing safety are critical factors in profitable operations,” he said.
The consortium is made up of businesses and institutions including Sunderland City Council, Newcastle University, Vantec, Coventry University, Connected Places Catapult, The North East Automotive Alliance and Perform Green.