Full-fibre specialist delivers tech for ‘driverless car’ testbed

Chester-based full fibre network operator ITS has completed the design and build of a network to support real-world testing of connected and autonomous vehicles (CAV).

The facility is situated at London’s Smart Mobility Living Lab (SMLL), based in the Royal Borough of Greenwich and Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.

The full fibre network has connected 34 sensor sites across the testbed and will provide critical connectivity and communications infrastructure to ensure vehicles can make the vital decisions needed to navigate their way around the road networks safely – negotiating the many obstacles encountered on journeys including traffic lights, traffic jams, pedestrian crossings, roundabouts, and the unexpected.

It enables users of the testbed to watch live vehicle testing out on the roads, from the SMLL control rooms.

ITS has provided the fibre infrastructure that will help to ensure the SMLL testbed is at the forefront of CAV testing and validation, as well as helping to gain acceptance of driverless vehicles by the public across the globe.

The firm has built 20km of full fibre spine using its ‘dig once’ approach.

By reusing existing ducting, including ducts built for the 2012 Olympic Games, ITS has avoided disruptive civils digs.

The fibre infrastructure has been designed to support 5G, and has been installed to connect 34 ‘Vehicle to Roadside’ sensors, CCTV, radar and lidar, a method for measuring distances by illuminating the target with laser light and measuring the reflection with a sensor.

It is this connectivity which will allow the CAVs to navigate the complex urban environment of a city by being able to ‘see’ what’s ahead.

Daren Baythorpe, ITS chief executive, said: “We are delighted to have delivered this fibre network to the SMLL team as part of this innovative connected and autonomous mobility initiative.

“This project showcases the role that full fibre has in underpinning transformative technologies.

“As one of the world’s most complex proving grounds for autonomous vehicles, SMLL will attract customers from around the globe to test, develop and deploy CAV solutions and, in the process, will establish the UK as a leader in this field.”

He added: “We are proud that our full fibre infrastructure will underpin this and help to shape the future of mobility and transport.”

This is the latest full fibre project ITS has completed following its £45m investment deal with Aviva Investors at the start of the year.