O2 undertaking ‘world first’ autonomous car trial

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The trial will involve a fleet of autonomous cars driving from London to Oxford independent of human interaction

O2 has partnered up with Oxford-based artificial intelligence specialist Oxbotica to help further the development of autonomous vehicles in the UK.

The pair is working together under the DRIVEN consortium, which has been boosted by an £8.6 million government grant. Its end goal is to see a full fleet of autonomous vehicles being deployed in urban areas and motorways, which would result in an end-to-end journey from London to Oxford. The project will use O2’s network to transmit data.

All vehicles will operate at ‘Level 4 autonomy,’ meaning they can safely complete an entire trip with no passengers. No other trial of connected or autonomous vehicles has ever demonstrated this level of independence before. The project began this month and will last for 30 months, aiming to address key challenges such as data sharing between connected vehicles and cyber security risks.

An O2 spokesperson said: “O2 is proud to be part of the DRIVEN consortium which is planning to deploy a fleet of connected, fully autonomous vehicles at a level of complexity and integration never before attempted anywhere in the world. O2’s role is to ensure safe transmission and delivery of the critical data generated by the autonomous vehicles.

“O2 believes developments in areas including secure data transfer will be the key to future developments in mobility, including congestion relief, car sharing and other innovative schemes. O2 also has a strong track record in machine to machine communication and particularly in driverless cars, including being a core partner of the Greenwich Automated Transport Environment (GATEway) project which has seen driverless vehicles travelling autonomously near The O2 in London.”