5G Innovation Hub to make Sherwood the world’s first ‘connected forest’

The plans also include a virtual reality experience of Robin Hood’s world-famous home

Sherwood Forest is set to become the world’s first 5G ‘connected forest’.

Nottinghamshire County Council is gearing up to lead a major consortium, including Nottingham Trent University, Birmingham City University, Netmore IoT Solutions, Gooi, ISPB, Harworth Group, Centre Parcs UK, Stagecoach East Midlands and Parkwood Outdoors.

As early as March 2021, visitors to Sherwood Forest Country Park will be able to enjoy unique 3D experience of the forest – the world-famous home of Robin Hood – supported by £10 million in total funding to test the latest 5G technology. The project has been backed by £10 million – £5m from the government, with the other half matched by the consortium.

The project is part of series of government-funded trials to “seize the potential of modern technology”.

Kicking off with a 25-month test-bed programme, the consortium plans to create the world’s first 5G connected forest at the Sherwood Forest Visitor Centre and the local region.

The pilot will launch in March this year, and hopes to uncover how 5G technology can be leveraged advance the tourism and environmental sectors. The consortium will experiment with VR and augmented reality (AR) technologies, and investigate ways to improve accommodation and transport in the local area.

On top of this, the project will test the ways 5G can be used to improve forest management and health. A brand-new 5G Innovation Hub will be built as part of the project, providing innovative research facilities. Businesses will also be able to use this space to try out new 5G applications, while the local community can go to upgrade their digital expertise.

Other perks of the project include:

– Giving life to the legend of Robin Hood through a 3D/4D VR experience
– Semi-autonomous vehicle testing to transport visitors
– On-board narration to describe the forest’s history
– Technology to teach children about natural world and the importance of conservation
– Testing of technologies such as drones and robots to monitor the health of the forest
– Trialling sustainable, energy-efficient smart accommodation for visitors
– An education and skills programme for local businesses and communities

“Connecting the ancient Sherwood Forest with next-generation 5G technology will help bring its story and legendary characters to life through virtual reality, with huge knock-on benefits for Nottingham’s visit economy,” said Oliver Dowden, secretary of state for digital culture, media and sport.

“With £5 million of government funding matched by industry, I’m very excited to see what lessons can be learned about the innovative ways 5G can benefit Britain’s brilliant tourism experiences.”

Councillor Kay Cutts MBE, Nottingham County Council leader, commented: “Nottinghamshire is once again at the forefront of latest technology, bringing together some of the best academic minds, 3D creators and experts in 5G.

“This will be the world’s first testing of 5G in a forest. It will bring the stories associated with Robin Hood and our ancient woodland to life in a new way.”

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