UK Space Agency and O2 partner for CAV

30 July 2019

The UK – as we have mentioned in many of our previous blogs – is an active player in the development of CAV Technology and the subsequent aspect that will help its deployment nationiwide without network disruptions.

In news last week, the UK Space Agency announced that it will be joining forces with mobile communications giant O2 to develop next generation technology required for the autonomous vehicle industry.

The concept and motivation behind the Project is to use next-generation telecoms satellites as well as 5G connectivity to provide the necessary infrastructure for both connected and autonomous vehicles (CAVs) to communicate with each other and with the road infrastructure around them. This will significantly help and ensure than autonomous vehicles of the future can maintain network connections as they travel into rural areas where mobile signals are traditionally been poor.

The partnership and subsequent programme is named, ‘Project Darwin’, which includes an ambitious four year trial programme designed to create the way for next generation connectivity solutions for connected and autonomous vehicles (CAVs) in the United Kingdom. The project aims to test new technology and end-to-end connectivity solutions including 5G and satellite communications to ultimately create a new CAV industry vertical.

The programme and trial will resume at the Harwell Science and Innovation Campus in Oxfordshire, with the particiapation -amongst others – of Oxford and Glasgow Universities, Spanish satellite operator Hispasat, start-ups specialised in self-driving mobility solutions and Darwin Innovation Group Oxford – a cutting edge innovation company connecting terrestrial and satellite communications.

As O2 announced, in their online statement – click here to read the full statement- , “Business Secretary Greg Clark said: “Our world-beating space and auto industries have a proven track record in driving forward pioneering research, while the UK’s satellite services are constantly enhancing services such as the quality of our communications, healthcare and environmental monitoring. This new partnership between Government and industry will build on our world-leading reputation in the development and manufacture of satellites even further, to bring together two of the UK’s great strengths – automotive and space. Putting us at the forefront of the next generation of self-driving cars of tomorrow – a key ambition in our modern Industrial Strategy.”

Derek McManus, COO at O2 said: “Project Darwin is an important piece of the connected and autonomous vehicle puzzle. The research taking place at Harwell during the next four years will be vital in the creation of new transport ecosystems for the UK public and the the companies that will offer these services. Our approach to this project is part of our wider strategy to collaborate with British businesses,”.

In addition, since 2014, the Government has invested significantly into the research and development of CAVs — including £120 million in CAV projects, with a further £68 million coming from industry contributions.

Catherine Mealing-Jones, Director of Growth, UK Space Agency, said:

Autonomous vehicles require robust high-speed mobile data connections to operate effectively, so building the technology to link autonomous vehicles to telecoms satellites means that you will be able to take your car wherever you want to go, not just where there’s decent mobile signal.

The future of mobility is one of the UK government’s Industrial Strategy Grand Challenges, so I’m delighted to support Project Darwin to ensure that this critical technology is developed in Harwell, bringing expertise, jobs and growth to Britain.

Earlier this year O2 announced that its 5G network would power autonomous vehicle testing at the Millbrook Proving Ground in Bedfordshire which is a clear indication the Media giant is seeking to become a major player in such future technology in the UK. It is also a clear indication the UK government is starting to slowly also take steps to enable the better comprehension of autonomous vehicles as well as their willingness to be proactive rather than reactive to industry requirements.

You can read the full statement by the National Space Agency by simply clicking here.

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Article by Nicholas Kalavas for Y-Mobility

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