Move over Robin Hood: Sherwood Forest will now be monitored by robot rangers
Nottingham’s famous Sherwood Forest Country Park is set to become the world’s first 5G connected forest featuring 3D and 4D virtual reality experiences, semi-autonomous vehicles, and drones and robots to monitor the forest.
This project aims to combine 5G technology, robotics, drones, as well as the natural environment to improve both the tourism and technology sectors by exploring new approaches to using virtual and augmented reality to improve visitor experience at the park.
This initiative is possible through a partnership between the UK government, the Nottingham City Council, Nottingham Trent University, Birmingham City University, Netmore IOT Solutions, Gooii, ISPB, Harworth Group, Centre Parcs UK, Stagecoach East Midlands, and Parkwood Outdoors as part of a £10 million project.
The project will pilot in March of this year.
Research lead for 5G Connected Forest and member of the Future Networks & Systems cluster at Birmingham City University’s School of Computing and Digital Technology, Mohammad Patwary said that this initiative is a unique opportunity for the UK to become a world leader in exploring the range of technological innovation that 5G presents.
This collaboration project will not only develop the economy and preserve nature but will also present various opportunities as a scalable and sustainable commercial-grade experimental network.
Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Birmingham City University, Julian Beer said that this project opens room for a unique delivery of digital storytelling facilities. It also simultaneously presents long term benefits to the business and residential communities of Sherwood Forest.
Additionally, the project is also exploring the use of 5G technology, including the use of robots and drones to survey and monitor the health of the forest. The use of high-tech surveillance technology will help to minimise the negative environmental impact of tourism-related activity in the area.
The project will explore ways to improve visitor accommodation and transport, particularly to those with mobility issues including exploring the use of smart devices that can provide more energy-efficient accommodation for visitors to the forest park.
The team in charge of the project plans to offer onboard narration to explain the historical significance and background of the site to visitors, using technology to teach children visiting the forest park about the natural environment to inspire the next generation of conservationists.
Visitors to the park will be able to experience the new technology from March 2021 onwards.
In addition to tourism, the park will also feature a 5G Innovation Hub. The hub will be developed to provide facilities for research and for businesses to explore new applications for 5G technology.
The innovation hub will provide an opportunity for locals to upgrade their skills in cutting-edge technology.
Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport, Oliver Dowden said, “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 Nottinghamshire’s visit economy.”
“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 boost Britain’s brilliant tourism experiences,” Dowden added.
Nottinghamshire County Council leader, Kay Cutts commented on this development, said, “Nottinghamshire is once again at the forefront of the 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.”
Cutts added that together with its partners, the council will create a virtual reality experience for visitors to Sherwood Forest.
This effort hopes to attract even more local and foreign visitors to Nottinghamshire from across which will bring great benefits to local businesses and the local economy.