Smart Transport

£2.4m awarded in first West Midlands 5G transport trials

Image from a predictive parking system

The winners of £2.4 million funding for 5G-enabled transport projects have been annouced by West Midlands 5G (WM5G) and Transport for West Midlands (TfWM).

Seven UK-based consortiums have been awarded the funding in the first phase of a £20m programme to develop the UK’s first region-wide 5G testbed.

The projects are: 

Capacity Manager, developed by Blacc, Immense, Elgin, University of Warwick, and O2

An innovative traffic management solution in which live traffic data is transferred in real-time over 5G to a dynamic road network model. Artificial intelligence (AI) working on the data provided, combined with historic event information, will create scenarios that provide real-time insights, allowing incidents and congestion to be better managed. This should result in less congestion, with traffic flowing more freely – improving the experience of travelling around the region for work or leisure. 

CURBS, developed by Vortex IoT, National Express, BT/EE

Using Lidar sensors and advanced software, real-time 3D point-cloud data will be sent over 5G to provide up-to-date and detailed maps, monitoring roads and rail infrastructure. The aim is to provide live on-street parking information, identify the location of potholes, improve cyclist safety, reduce vehicle damage

Passenger Management, developed by GoMedia, Wordnerds and Icomera

An AI-led system – designed to improve passenger experiences and safety – provides intelligence in interpretation of live customer feedback over 5G. Immediate problems can be resolved and a database of categorised issues will provide insights for the operator to improve services. The aim is to enhance the traveller experience by improving the products and services available to passengers across the transport system. 

Predikt, developed by AppyWay and Getmapping 

A predictive parking system (pictured above) that uses 5G-enabled kerbside imaging to reduce the amount of time spent finding a parking space. This could reduce the estimated £373 million spent each year in wasted time, fuel and emissions caused by drivers searching for a place to park. If successful, drivers will have access to highly accurate predictive availability of parking spaces, making their journeys quicker and reducing the time vehicles spend on the road.  

Transport Accessibility, developed by GoMedia and Icomera 

More than 40% of the visually impaired are unable to make all, or some, of their journeys with public transport independently – with the help of 5G, this project will rectify that by creating a passenger service that will allow more visually impaired people to travel on public transport, helping to develop the transport system of the future for all. 

Tram Safety, developed by Icomera, Classone Systems, DigitalRail 

Using 5G to stream CCTV footage from trams, images will be analysed real-time to detect people and objects. This will help to increase passenger safety, assist with social distancing, and identify where improvements to accessibility may be required. Passengers will benefit from a safer, more tailored service. 

Urban Tourism, developed by You. Smart. Thing., Landmrk, Imagemakers, and Oodl 

Using 5G-enabled sensors at stations and major venues combined with booking and travel information, real-time traveller demand insights for rail and road networks will be created. ‘Last mile’ routes to destinations and investigations into how to influence travellers will be explored. This will provide a transport demand model for large cultural events – enhancing the experience for those attending. 

Chris Holmes, programme director – transport at WM5G, said: “We have been delighted with the response to this first competition, which was heavily oversubscribed, and are really pleased to be awarding the funding to projects that we truly believe – when proven – will transform transport within the region."

Chris Lane, head of transport innovation at TfWM, added: “We have ambitious transport plans for the region and funding competition with West Midlands 5G forms a key part of that.

"The outcome of these trials will make a significant difference to transport across the region and have national relevance.

"This news further reinforces the West Midlands’ reputation as one of the UK’s number one locations for both 5G and transport innovation.” 

A second round of the funding competition for 5G-enabled road and rail trials closes on Wednesday, December 2, 2020 at 11am.

A share of up to an additional £2.5 million is available to UK registered businesses. 

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