July 13, 2021

Case study: 5G technology to power ground-breaking driverless truck project

Aerial view of parked delivery trucks

Our #5GCheckTheFacts campaign has highlighted how 5G technology is revolutionising many industries and sectors across the globe including healthcare, gaming and more. 5G is expected to connect almost everything around us with an ultra-fast, highly reliable, and fully responsive network. The automotive manufacturing industry will be transformed by this technology, offering an expansive range of possibilities.

The project

Tech firm ‘North’ who specialise in the Internet of Things (IoT) (a network of connected smart devices), will work alongside 5G company Nokia on an autonomous truck project. This project will determine whether driverless 40-tonne trucks can be used to distribute parts and assemblies across the Nissan plant, linking to many local businesses in its supply chain.

Graphic showing Estimated Global Installed Base Of Cars With Self Driving Features

The project was initially announced in 2020 by North East-based car manufacturer Nissan and Sunderland City Council to design and build a £4.9m system close to the Vantec and Nissan plants in Sunderland. This project will utilise 5G technology in an operational automotive environment for the first time in the UK, with support from North.

Autonomous vehicles could dramatically improve health and safety, in a future where self-driving trucks will be commonplace.

Self-driving vehicle features are already becoming popular with automotive manufacturers. (Credit: Business Insider)

Accessibility, health and safety benefits

Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) will help drivers to drive safely and avoid accidents. The latency speeds (the time required for a set of data to travel between two points) of 5G are practically real-time, which can be used to provide drivers with additional safety information before it is visible e.g. emergency service vehicles, road construction and unseen pedestrians.

Many tech companies have been testing remote pilots and drivers to ensure vehicles remain accessible and offer support to those with additional needs which may pose difficulty in self-driving. These trained drivers would be situated miles away in a simulator that can take over instantly should a self-drive vehicle need to be managed by a person. To achieve this, fast and stable wireless connections such as 5G are required.

Support for 5G

Internet of Things (IoT) firm North chief executive Glen Williams said: “This is a significant milestone for 5G standalone technology in the UK.

“We know that the potential of 5G is tremendous.

“However, to realise it, we need to see more innovative projects such as this being driven forward across different sectors and UK regions.”


The pilot project will see 5G technology used in an operational automotive Internet of Things (IoT) firm North designing and building a £4.9m system close to the Vantec and Nissan plants in Sunderland.

North will work with 5G telecoms company Nokia to investigate the logistics of automating a 40-tonne heavy goods vehicle (HGV) in last-mile deliveries.

Funding for the project was secured by a consortium which involves the North East Automotive Alliance, Sunderland City Council, Newcastle University, Coventry University, Connected Places Catapult, StreetDrone and Perform Green.

Graphic showing Estimated Global Installed Base Of Cars With Self Driving Features

About Building Mobile Britain

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Building Mobile Britain is a campaign created by Mobile UK seeking to work with national and local government, as well as interested industry groups to overcome the challenges we face with expanding the existing mobile networks, while also developing innovative services for customers.

See here for further information - or #BuildingMobileBritain

Media Contacts

Gareth Elliott
Head of Policy and Communications
Tel: 07887 911 076

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