O2 teams up with European Space Agency to trial connectivity solutions for autonomous vehicles


O2 hope to showcase the first ‘proof of concepts’ of the project by 2020

O2 has partnered up with the European Space Agency to support a project that trials technology for connected and autonomous vehicles (CAVs).

The collaboration comes as part of a four-year trial programme called ‘Project Darwin’ which aims to test connectivity solutions such as 5G and satellite communications.

Project Darwin is based at the Harwell Science and Innovation Campus in Oxfordshire and brings together Oxford and Glasgow universities, Spanish satellite operator Hispasat, start-ups that specialise in self-driving mobility solutions and Darwin Innovation Group Oxford.

The project will begin work next month, with plans to explore key connected vehicle and vehicle-SIM platforms plus AI neural network integration.

Research last year conducted by O2 found that CAVs are expected to generate up to 4TB of data.

O2 COO Derek McManus 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 companies that will offer these services.”

Project Darwin has also received support from the UK government to launch an ARTES ‘Partner Study’ to help discover the different elements needed for the larger programme.

UK Space Agency director of growth Catherine Mealing-Jones said: “Autonomous vehicles need robust, high-speed mobile data connections to operate effectively.

“Building the technology to link them to telecoms satellites will allow you to take your car wherever you want to go, and not just to areas with a strong mobile signal.”

Recently O2 confirmed it will turn its 5G network on at the Millbrook Testing Ground for self-driving cars in Bedfordshire.