Nottinghamshire County Council has announced plans to invest in robot dogs, internet-controlled drones and a wireless upgrade at Sherwood Forest which it claims will make it the world's first 5G-connected forest.
The £10m trial, part-funded by the government's Rural Connected programme, will create a stronger signal covering the forest’s 432 acre nature reserve and adjoining Rufford Abbey.
Notts CC hopes the stronger 5G signal will support visitors to use an augmented reality headset to view an immersive Robin Hood-themed film across the forest.
An Arrow In Time, highlighting the links between Robin Hood and the forest, will be “the world's first interactive holographic film” according to the council.
County councillor Keith Girling said the 25-month project had the potential to attract "millions" of pounds of tourism trade.
"It's going to draw attention to Nottinghamshire, which has got to be a good thing for investment. 5G Connected Forest really is an exciting project and I am proud that Nottinghamshire is leading the way with these trials. An Arrow Through Time, brings local legends to life in a way never seen before.
Alongside the 5G upgrade, the UK’s first-ever ‘forest ranger robot dog’ designed by Birmingham City University will begin patrolling the forest as part of a research programme which will run to March 2022.
The prototype remote-controlled dog will help gather data from areas of the forest which are usually inaccessible and assess the health and condition of the forest environment.
Birmingham City University Associate Professor Taufiq Asyhari said: “We are thrilled to be able to showcase some of the high-end AI, computing, and other cutting-edge network and interactive technologies, which are helping to drive the 5G Connected Forest project.
“Our research and development work around data collection and intelligent processing, understanding and improving connectivity, and helping to upscale the forestry environmental management is moving from strength to strength – we’re delighted to be part of a great team on this project.”
As well as Birmingham City University, the county council is collaborating with Nottingham Trent University, Netmore IOT Solutions, Gooii, Harworth Group, and Parkwood Leisure on the project.
Other elements of the 5G Connected Forest project include an augmented reality ‘ghost walk’ at Rufford Mill and an app-based experience called Tag-in-the-Park.