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O2 launches UK’s first driverless cars lab

Telecomms provider O2 has recently launched UK’s first commercial lab, the Darwin SatCom Lab. Businesses will trial driverless cars that use 5G and satellite technology to remain connected within this lab.

Backed by funding from the United Kingdom Space Agency, the new lab based at the Harwell Science and Innovation Campus in Oxfordshire will invite businesses to check driverless cars and utilize 5G and satellite technology to trial ways of keeping vehicles connected.

With driverless cars and other new major applications requiring seamless connectivity the United Kingdom Space Agency is supporting companies to access satellite communications. This will assist in not only growing the United Kingdom space sector but also opening it up to companies that had previously not been ready to access space.

SpaceDaily quoted Science Minister Amanda Solloway as saying that the UK’s space sector is applying pioneering technologies like satellite and 5G to essential products and services which will help to rework user’s everyday lives.

At the location, 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 permit them to be controlled from the Lab and driven round 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 every TWIZY, including their position, movement and speed. The lab forms a part of Project Darwin, a four-year programme backed by the United Kingdom Space Agency and therefore the European Space Agency.

Derek McManus, Chief Operating Officer at O2 said that they are delighted to announce that the Darwin SatCom Lab is now open for business at Harwell Campus, allowing companies to place theory into practice and test innovative ideas using their 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 facility of 5G and satellite communications so as to provide benefit to their customers.

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