Telecoms provider O2, backed by the UK government, has launched the UK’s first commercial lab – the Darwin SatCom Lab – where businesses will be able to trial driverless cars that use 5G and satellite technology to stay connected.
The lab – based at the Harwell Science and Innovation Campus in Oxfordshire – will invite businesses to test driverless cars and use 5G and satellite technology to trial ways of keeping vehicles connected. With driverless cars and other new major applications requiring seamless connectivity, the UK Space Agency is supporting companies in accessing satellite communications.
At the site, O2 has already converted two Renault TWIZY electric cars into driverless cars, fitted with lidar sensors which enable them to be controlled from the Lab and driven around the campus using 5G equipment provided by Nokia and geosynchronous communications satellites (GEOs) provided by Hispasat, the satellite operator.
The lab forms part of Project Darwin – a four-year program backed by the UK Space Agency and the European Space Agency. Derek McManus, chief operating officer at O2, commented, “We’re delighted to announce that the Darwin SatCom Lab is now open for business at Harwell Campus, allowing companies to put theory into practice and test innovative ideas using our connected and autonomous vehicles. It’s the next step in getting autonomous vehicles on the road and making the UK’s transport network greener.”