One of the largest telcos in the United Kingdom, O2, has partnered with Spanish satellite operator Hispasat, the Universities of Oxford and Glasgow, the European Space Agency (ESA), and a consortium of startup companies for a major project to test satellite and 5G technologies to support connected and autonomous vehicles. The four-year trail program will be called "Project Darwin."
Project Darwin will be housed at the Harwell Science and Innovation Campus in Oxfordshire, U.K. The project will begin work next month, with plans to explore key connected vehicle and vehicle-SIM platforms plus AI neural network integration. Hispasat will supply satellite connectivity for the trials.
"Project Darwin is an important piece of the connected and autonomous vehicle puzzle," O2 COO Derek McManus said in a statement. "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," adding that O2 will be activating its 5G network at the Millbrook Testing Ground for self-driving cars in Bedfordshire.
Project Darwin is also receiving support from the U.K. Government to launch a partner study to help discover the different elements needed for the larger program. "Autonomous vehicles need robust, high-speed mobile data connections to operate effectively," said U.K. Space Agency Director of Growth Catherine Mealing-Jones. "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."
Check out our newest episode of On Orbit Podcast, "The 5G Link to Satellite," which focuses on future satellite and telco collaboration for 5G, and conceptual ties between the way networks operate. The episode features interviews with Karl Horne of SES Networks and Ashish Sharma of Inseego.