UK's first standalone 5G network launches in Milton Keynes to power-up robots and driverless cars

    Kar-go's delivery vehicle

    The UK’s first standalone 5G network is now up and running in Milton Keynes – powering up robots, medical devices, driverless cars, and energy-saving devices.

    This new project, called MK:5G, is being trialled by businesses to do everything from managing traffic flow and powering up driverless vehicles, to enabling patients to be monitored without having to see a specialist or leave their homes.

    MK:5G is being managed by Milton Keynes Council, led by Connected Places Catapult and has been awarded funding by the South East Midlands Local Enterprise Partnership (SEMLEP).

    One of the businesses that are trialling 5G is Kar-go, a state-of-the-art self-driving delivery bot providing contact-free delivery.

    Kar-go looks set to become a familiar delivery vehicle on the streets of Milton Keynes, with the Academy of Robotics selected to pilot and test the city’s new 5G technology.

    William Sachiti, CEO and founder of Academy of Robotics, said: “Kar-go shows how driverless delivery vehicles could eventually become a common site on our streets, delivering parcels directly to homes.

    “Having incredible Wi-Fi connection, thanks to MK:5G, will mean we can control remotely and monitor every aspect of what we are seeing. Kar-go is designed to travel on unmarked as well as marked roads and thanks to our unique vision system our electric vehicle is capable of delivering packages and parcels to addresses not just in city-centres, but also to suburban and rural locations.“

    Capable of driving at 60mph and covering 60 miles (more than the average daily delivery round) fully loaded on a single charge, this type of electric delivery bot could dramatically reduce the environmental impact of parcel deliveries.

    Kar-go has been designed as a green alternative to diesel delivery vans, which will enable logistics companies and retailers to keep delivery costs down, whilst providing a more convenient customer experience by delivering on demand.

    It focuses on the small, shoe-boxed sized parcels, where delivery costs (which can account for a third of the cart value) put increasing pressure on margins for both retailers and logistics companies.

    The vehicle will be able to drive itself to and from the sender and recipient’s address and hand over the parcel autonomously using its onboard robotics.

    Other businesses that are trialling 5G are:

    - Fotech: Smart traffic management in Milton Keynes to address congestion and improve road safety and air quality.

    - Imperium Drive: Rolling out and commercialising one of the UK’s most advanced remote driving technologies for autonomous vehicles.

    - Briteyellow: A new app and wearable smart device for vulnerable and elderly people, designed to save lives.

    - WarnerPatch: Reducing emergency surgeries and hospital re-admissions for patients with cancer and chronic illnesses.

    Brian Matthews, Head of Transport Innovation at Milton Keynes Council, said: “This is a huge and important step in Milton Keynes’ journey to becoming a cleaner, greener and a smarter city. The new technology brings several significant benefits, ranging from managing traffic flow to providing better healthcare. The project has been a fantastic example of collaboration between Milton Keynes Council, SEMLEP and some of the UKs leading technology companies."

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