YOU ARE AT:5GAT&T brings private 5G network, MEC to Ford's new electric vehicle factory

AT&T brings private 5G network, MEC to Ford’s new electric vehicle factory

Ford recently announced its first-ever electric pickup truck, the F-150 Lightning. Now, AT&T will bring 5G and MEC to the factory where the new electric vehicles are being built.

The Rouge Electric Vehicle Center in Dearborn, Michigan, which Ford calls “the future of EV production”, will be outfitted with a private 5G cellular network and multi-access edge computing (MEC) from AT&T.

Ford’s Rouge Electric Vehicle Center. Image: Ford

“With this collaboration, we’ll help Ford unlock the potential of 5G helping to build the truck of the future,” said Rasesh Patel, chief product and platform officer of AT&T Business, adding that this is “5G connectivity coming to life”.

“The Rouge Electric Vehicle Center was built with a clean-slate design and features the latest in advanced manufacturing technology,” said Adrian Price, executive director of global manufacturing engineering at Ford Motor Company. “We are deploying 5G technology at this facility as a platform to enable us to use significant additional advanced manufacturing technologies in the future.”

According to AT&T, 5G connectivity at the EV center will support multiple types of wireless connections, from tablets and phones used by employees on the production line to over-the-air software updates for the vehicles themselves.

Ford employees use tablets on the production line to send and receive information about equipment status and material supply, and use smartphones to scan specific components for accuracy, AT&T said. “Both the phones and tablets will have 5G capability for faster processing times and better connection. 5G will support additional applications as the devices are updated to enable 5G connectivity,” the carrier added.

AT&T said that the lower latency that is possible with a 5G network can help automated robotics and machinery have faster reaction times and make better decisions, to help keep the workers around them more safe.

Finally, AT&T said, Ford has already moved to making vehicle software updates wirelessly, and the 5G connectivity will save time by making them faster.

Pre-production models of the F-150 Lightning began to roll out of the EV center last month. The trucks will go on sale in the spring of 2022 and as of mid-September, Ford said it already had 150,000 reservations from customers who wanted one, prompting the company to invest another $250 million at the Dearborn center and add 450 jobs to boost production of the F-150 Lightning at the Rouge Electric Vehicle Center.

ABOUT AUTHOR

Kelly Hill
Kelly reports on network test and measurement, as well as the use of big data and analytics. She first covered the wireless industry for RCR Wireless News in 2005, focusing on carriers and mobile virtual network operators, then took a few years’ hiatus and returned to RCR Wireless News to write about heterogeneous networks and network infrastructure. Kelly is an Ohio native with a masters degree in journalism from the University of California, Berkeley, where she focused on science writing and multimedia. She has written for the San Francisco Chronicle, The Oregonian and The Canton Repository. Follow her on Twitter: @khillrcr

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