UK independent auto industry test company Millbrook said it would bcome the UK's first independent 5G test bed for connected and autonomous vehicles (CAVs).

The announcement follows its successful 2017 bid to launch a unique, controlled test bed representative of an urban environment for the development of CAVs.

It will become a partner in the recently announced AutoAir project to bring 5G technology to the automotive and technology industries and accelerate the validation and development of CAVs.

AutoAir brings together a large number of the industry's leading 5G players and is anchored by the work at Surrey University's 5G Innovation Centre (5GIC).

Last October, Millbrook announced it had successfully bid to become one of the leading test beds for CAVs in the UK.

It is working in collaboration with the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority's centre for Remote Applications for Challenging Environments (RACE), as part of the project co-funded by the Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CCAV) through Meridian.

"With significant further investment in a range of ADAS test capabilities, this most recent announcement reinforces Millbrook's position as the UK's leading test and validation facility for the full range of CAV and ADAS requirements," it said in a statement.

The AutoAir project is a consortium of partners lead by Airspan Networks and is to be hosted at Millbrook in Bedfordshire, a vast facility opened by General Motors in the late 1960s as the Vauxhall Proving Ground.

Autoair is described as "a unique, accelerated development programme for 5G technology" and is based on 5G New Radio (NR) small cells that operate on a 'neutral host' basis, a shared platform which allows multiple public and private 5G operators simultaneously to use the same infrastructure using network slicing, which can radically improve the economics for 5G networks.

Paul Senior, chief strategy officer, Airspan Networks and CEO of Dense Air said: "We are delighted to be working with Millbrook on this project. It will greatly accelerate and enhance the development and validation of CAVs and the crucial role that 5G networks play in the safe and functional delivery of cutting edge transport technology.

"Millbrook's facilities are unique in the UK and there was no other obvious partner to deliver the capabilities which [it] will offer as part of this project."

The project will see Millbrook build a fibre backbone and 23 'small cell' base station sites. The test bed will allow CAV developers access to gigabit/s, low latency, wide-area 5G wireless infrastructure that will work seamlessly across the entire proving ground.

This is crucial for the validation and testing of level three to level five autonomous vehicles, which require high speed, real time connectivity to compare the real world outcomes with the decision making simulation.

Millbrook president Alex Burns said: "Our proving ground in the UK is already being used for testing a spectrum of CAV technologies. With [our] ongoing investment in ADAS and CAV test infrastructure, the addition of the 5G capability will create one the world's most comprehensive CAV test facilities."