Spark and Ohmio test New Zealand’s first 5G-connected driverless car

A collaboration between communications firm Spark New Zealand and autonomous vehicle developer Ohmio Automotion has seen New Zealand’s first 5G-connected driverless car being tested on Auckland streets.

Ohmio has previously trialled its autonomous vehicles at Christchurch airport, and has since upgraded its car with new technology to ensure it would integrate with Spark’s 5G test network. 

“We believe this test with Spark is only the second of its type in the world,” said Dr Mahmood Hikmet, Ohmio’s Head of Research and Development. “Today has demonstrated some of the exciting opportunities 5G will enable for our autonomous car technology.

“A 5G network can be up to 100x faster than 4G, which unlocks the true potential for autonomous driving, as messages need to be transmitted and decisions made in real-time.

“A significant drop in latency – or the reaction time when one device talks to another – will give cars human-like reflexes and opens up multiple possibilities for connected infrastructure and a smart city ecosystem.” 

Colin Brown, Spark’s Lead for Network Evolution, said: “Many industries and businesses in New Zealand will have their own ideas on what their transformative technology could be enabled by 5G.

“We want to encourage businesses to begin thinking about their own ‘driverless car’ technology, and how they can prepare for the future of 5G.”

Ohmio plans to continue growing its driverless fleet in New Zealand, launching more cars in closed facilities such as airports, university campuses, retirement villages and hospitals.

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