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£3 million to be spent on 5G roads in the West Midlands

The cash, which will be provided by the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA), will go toward providing around 280 sensors to the region's ‘Key Route Network’ (KRN), which covers roads such as the A34, A38 and A45.

Three million pounds is set to be spent on expanding the region’s 5G network to operate along major roads, it has been revealed.

It is said that the data provided through these sensors will help manage the region’s road network in real time via Transport for West Midlands’ Regional Transport Coordination Centre.

And their installation along the KRN will also mean a further step toward the introduction of autonomous vehicles in the region, with 5G capability essential for driverless cars to be able to function effectively.

The plans were revealed as the WMCA put the contract out for tender, with a date of August 17 by which to submit bids.

According to the WMCA, introduction of the technology will “facilitate better real time planning of the region’s road network, resulting in a safer, more efficient, well maintained and managed network.”

It will also “provide the opportunity to test new capabilities provided through 5G communications, in particular benefits resulting from increased reliability, speed and low latency in the sharing of data in comparison with traditional fibre network, MESH technology; and 4G communications”, they said.

It is expected that the works will be completed by August 2023, though this is just a rough estimate at the moment.

If successful, the West Midlands’ road network could soon mirror other successful 5G networks from across the world.

In 2017 a 10km stretch of road in the Arctic north of Finland was equipped with sensors, creating the Aurora public tests ecosystem. The 5G technology used on this ‘smart road’ helps drivers to tackle freezing temperatures and the issues presented by it, while China is also said to be on track to have functioning smart highways within the next few years.

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