O2 teams with the European Space Agency to support self-driving tests

O2O2 has joined forces with the European Space Agency to support a project aimed at testing technology for connected and autonomous vehicles (CAVs).

The four-year trial programme, dubbed ‘Project Darwin’, will trial technology and end-to-end connectivity solutions, including 5G and satellite communications, with an eye on creating a new CAV industry vertical.

It brings together Oxford and Glasgow Universities, Spanish satellite operator Hispasat, self-driving startups, and the Darwin Innovation Group Oxford. The group will begin work on the design and definition phase next month at Harwell Science and Innovation Campus in Oxfordshire. The hope is to unveil the first ‘proof of concepts’ from 2020.

“Project Darwin is an important piece of the connected and autonomous vehicle puzzle,” said Derek McManus, O2 COO. “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. Our approach to this project is part of our wider strategy to collaborate with British businesses, partners and start-ups to unlock the possibilities of 5G for customers and wider UK economy.”

The project has also received backing from the UK government to launch an ARTES ‘partner study’ alongside it. This will help to define the different elements needed to deliver the larger programme.

“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,” said business secretary Greg Clark. “Putting us at the forefront of the next generation of self-driving cars of tomorrow – a key ambition in our modern Industrial Strategy.”

A couple of months ago, O2 penned a deal with the AutoAir 5G project which will see it be the public and private network provider of 5G connectivity for autonomous vehicle testing at the MillBrook Proving Ground in Bedfordshire.