New Zealand's Spark Tests 5G-connected Autonomous Car

New Zealand's Spark Tests 5G-connected Autonomous Car Image Credit: Spark

New Zealand’s first 5G-connected driverless car is being tested on Auckland streets, as a result of a collaboration between Spark New Zealand and Ohmio Automotion.

The test is being carried out in a controlled area at Auckland’s Wynyard Quarter Innovation Precinct this morning, using Spark’s pre-commercial 5G network available as part of its 5G Innovation Lab. Spark launched its Innovation Lab in November 2018 to showcase 5G technology to New Zealand businesses.

Now, Spark’s network team will begin working closely with Kiwi businesses to test the technical capabilities of 5G and enhance products and experiences. The 5G-connected driverless car was developed by Ohmio, a New Zealand company which has been trialling autonomous vehicles at Christchurch airport.  Since these trials, the car has been upgraded with new technology to ensure it integrates with Spark’s 5G test network. 

The 5G-connected car carries up to four people. Using a tablet, passengers are able to hail the car which moves down the street to collect you. Inside, a dashboard tells you what the car is monitoring in real time using LiDAR technology to help make sense of the surrounding environment. While the vehicle is capable of driving itself at up to 25 kmph, the trial will cap the vehicles’ top speed at 7 kmph during the pre-programmed test drive loop lasting approximately seven minutes. 

Spark’s preparation and testing for the 5G network started in March last year with a 5G mobile speed test in Auckland and Wellington. In Auckland, Spark achieved speeds of up to 18Gbp/s – which is around 100x faster than many typical New Zealand wireless device users currently experience.

Dr Mahmood Hikmet, Head of Research and Development, Ohmio
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.

Colin Brown, Lead for Network Evolution, Spark
Our partnership with Ohmio demonstrates the potential of 5G, which goes far beyond the speed of mobile phones and wireless broadband connections. “Many industries and businesses in New Zealand will have their own ideas on what their transformative technology could be enabled by 5G. 

Ray is a news editor at The Fast Mode, bringing with him more than 10 years of experience in the wireless industry.

For tips and feedback, email Ray at ray.sharma(at), or reach him on LinkedIn @raysharma10, Facebook @1RaySharma


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