in Space

O2 launches UK's first driverless cars lab

Posted 2 October 2020 · Add Comment

Telecomms provider O2, backed by the UK Space Agency, has launched the UK’s first commercial lab – the Darwin SatCom Lab.



Above: A car in action at Darwin Lab. Businesses will trial driverless cars that use 5G and satellite technology to stay connected.
Courtesy UK Space Agency


The introduction of 5G could address many of the technical challenges faced by driverless cars by providing stronger, faster and more reliable data signals. While satellite technology can augment 5G connectivity, allowing the vehicles to operate safely in areas that suffer from poor mobile phone signal.  

Reducing the time it takes for information to be sent and received – the latency - compared to 4G is vital to the development of these cars, and could slash the current 20 milliseconds of lag to 1 millisecond – the equivalent of a camera flash.

Backed by funding from the UK Space Agency, the new 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 to access satellite communications. This is not only growing the UK space sector but opening it up to companies that had previously not been able to access space.

Science Minister Amanda Solloway said: "The UK’s space sector is applying pioneering technologies such as satellite and 5G to essential products and services that will help to transform our everyday lives.

"I am incredibly excited that O2’s first of its kind driverless car lab will enable our most innovative businesses to test these technologies and bring us another step closer to putting self-driving vehicles safely on our roads."

At the site, O2 has already converted two Renault TWIZY electric cars into driverless cars – dubbed ‘Connected Autonomous Vehicles’ or CAVs – that are fitted with LIDAR sensors which allow 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, O2’s team can remotely track the status of each TWIZY, including their position, movement and speed.

The 4G systems we are familiar with on our mobiles operate with a throughput of about one gigabit (1,000,000,000 bits) per second. By contrast, 5G has a data rate of 20 gigabits.

The lab forms part of Project Darwin – a four-year programme backed by the UK Space Agency and the European Space Agency.
Derek McManus, Chief Operating Officer at O2 said: "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.

"The Lab is further proof that O2 is at the forefront of connectivity and accelerating Britain’s recovery by helping British businesses to harness the power of 5G and satellite communications in order to benefit their customers.

"It’s the next step in getting autonomous vehicles on the road and making the UK’s transport network greener."

Antonio Franchi, 5G Strategic Programme Manager at the European Space Agency said: "We are excited to continue working on 5G projects with our partners, especially the Darwin SatCom Lab located on the Harwell Campus, which is also home to the ESA’s European Centre for Space Applications and Telecommunications.

"The Lab, showcasing the integration of 5G and satellite communications for CAVs, is a great example of how next-gen 5G networks will enable new applications and services thanks to their ubiquity, security and resilience."


 

Other Stories
Advertisement
Latest News

The space domain and UK security

In a recent interview with DSEI Senior Defence Advisor, Air Vice-Marshal (ret’d) Gary Waterfall, Air Vice Marshal Harv Smyth, Head of the UK Space Directorate, highlights the vital role of the space domain for UK security.

Element makes digital investment into simulation and modelling

Element Materials Technology (Element) has formally launched Element Digital Engineering, taking a significant step forward on its journey to becoming a key provider of engineering simulation, modelling, data science and

ADB Safegate teams up with Assaia for data-driven airside ops

ADB Safegate and Assaia have delivered a number of pilot projects featuring a first-of-its-kind concept at several pioneer airports around the world.

Skyports partners with Swoop Aero on UK-wide drone delivery

Drone delivery service provider, Skyports, has partnered with Australian drone-powered health logistics company, Swoop Aero, to provide a UK-wide drone delivery service.

ESA books two payload missions on Airbus Bartolomeo platform

The European Space Agency (ESA) and Airbus have agreed on service orders for two independent payload missions to be launched to the Bartolomeo payload hosting facility on the International Space Station (ISS) in 2022 and 2024,

Aerobility and CIVATAglobal say UAM must include needs of disabled people

Regulators, local authorities and industry groups will need to incorporate the views and priorities of disabled groups in their early planning phase if the promise - and full market value - of advanced air mobility (AAM) and urban air

S&P SK1611110321
See us at
Security & Policing 2021 BTIDEX 2021 BT26221