IMC Newsdesk

Nissan UK to trial autonomous logistics

  • August 27, 2020
  • William Payne

Nissan’s factory in Sunderland, northern England, is to implement 5G connected, self driving 40-tonne trucks as part of a move to autonomous logistics across the car factory’s local manufacturing ecosystem. The self driving trucks will move parts and assemblies between Nissan’s Sunderland manufacturing campus and local businesses that are part of the car maker’s just-in-time supply chain.

5G connected robotics and self driving trucks will be developed by UK company StreetDrone.

A UK government grant will help fund core research and development in autonomous logistics as part of a wider programme to promote smart manufacturing and autonomous technologies.

An initial trial will assess how 5G connected and autonomous logistics operations can achieve greater efficiency in industrial supply chain operations.

The 5G CAL project, standing for 5G Connected and Autonomous Logistics, will build on StreetDrone’s existing autonomy work. The company has curated and managed open-source autonomous software solutions with a focus on low-speed applications, including urban and suburban metropolitan areas, campuses and manufacturing plants.

StreetDrone will 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.

The consortium supporting the programme comprises businesses and institutions including Sunderland City Council, Newcastle University, Vantec, Coventry University, Connected Places Catapult, The North East Automotive Alliance and Perform Green.

Matt Warman, Minister for Digital Infrastructure, said “The new funding we are announcing today will help us pioneer new ways to seize the opportunities of 5G and bring tangible benefits for consumers and businesses across the country.”

Mike Potts, StreetDrone’s CEO 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.

Mark Preston, StreetDrone’s co-founder said: “We are excited to work with the CAVL consortium in the North of England to demonstrate 5G as a key enabler in the roll-out of connected and autonomous vehicles. We look forward to augmenting StreetDrone’s capability in Level 4 autonomy and taking advantage of 5G benefits such as low latency teleoperation, vehicle-infrastructure communications and edge & cloud computing to make CAV logistics a commercially viable proposition and demonstrate this with an exciting end-user in Nissan Motor Manufacturing UK.”