Ford and AT&T have announced a partnership that will see the telecommunications giant provide 5G cellular connectivity and networking to the Ford’s Dearborn Rouge site, where the car manufacturer is building out a line of electric vehicles.
AT&T said in a statement that their 5G systems and Multi-Access Edge Computing (MEC) technology would be used to help build the new all-electric Ford F-150 Lightning pickups, which are slated to come out next year.
Adrian Price, executive director of global manufacturing engineering at Ford Motor Company, said the Rouge Electric Vehicle Center was built with a clean-slate design and features the “latest in advanced manufacturing technology.”
“We are deploying 5G technology at this facility as a platform to enable us to use significant additional advanced manufacturing technologies in the future,” Price said.
Rasesh Patel, chief product & platform officer at AT&T Business, added that the company was excited to “help Ford unlock the potential of 5G helping to build the truck of the future.”
“It’s 5G connectivity coming to life! And it’s all thanks to the transformative ultra-fast speeds, incredibly low latency, and massive connectivity that is 5G in action,” Patel said.
The companies explained that 5G will support a slate of activities taking place in the factory. Dozens of production line workers use tablets and computers to send information and check equipment or materials.
Smartphones are used by workers to scan certain parts of the trucks to check accuracy and all of the devices will work faster with 5G. Ford also plans to update all devices to enable more functions through the new 5G system.
The factory is also outfitted with hundreds of robots and machines connected to the internet, and Ford said worker safety will be improved by the lower latency offered by 5G. The 5G system “can help automated robotics and machinery make better decisions and faster reaction times,” according to Ford.
Ford added that vehicle software updates can now be made wirelessly thanks to AT&T’s 5G.
Ford has been investing heavily in the Rouge Electric Vehicle Center, announcing an additional $250 million that will be funneled into the factory to support 450 more jobs.