Ford and AT&T announced a partnership on Tuesday that will see the telecommunications giant provide 5G cellular connectivity and networking to Ford's Dearborn Rouge site, where the car manufacturer is building out a line of electric vehicles.
AT&T said in a statement that they would help build the new all-electric Ford F-150 Lightning pickups, slated to come out next year, with their 5G systems and Multi-Access Edge Computing (MEC) technology.
Adrian Price, executive director of global manufacturing engineering at Ford Motor Company, said that the Rouge Electric Vehicle Center was built with a clean-slate design, featuring 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 [by] 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. For example, dozens of production line workers use smartphones, tablets, and computers to scan trucks, send information, and check equipment or materials. All of these devices work faster with 5G. Ford plans to update all devices to enable more functionality through the new 5G system.
The factory also contains hundreds of robots and machines connected to the internet, and Ford said the lower latency offered by 5G will improve worker safety. According to Ford, the 5G system "can help automated robotics and machinery make better decisions and faster reaction times," according to Ford.
Ford added that AT&T's 5G allows for wireless vehicle software updates.
Ford has been investing heavily in the Rouge Electric Vehicle Center, announcing an additional $250 million into the factory to support 450 more jobs.