The five-year partnership will make use of O2 and Darwin Innovation Groups’ 5G and satellite communications commercial laboratory

Back in October last year, O2 announced the launch of the first commercial laboratory for 5G and satellite communications in the UK as part of Project Darwin, a four-year trial programme supported by O2 and the European Space Agency.
The facility, Darwin SatCom Lab, was opened in Harwell Science and Innovation Campus in Oxfordshire, allowing companies to explore solutions for connected and autonomous vehicles (CAVs) using both 5G and satellite communication.
Now, a new five-year partnership between Avival and Darwin innovation group will make use of these facilities to trial an autonomous shuttle. The vehicle, created by Navya, will be operated via 5G and satellite connectivity, carrying passengers around the campus.
Darwin has mapped the campus, giving the vehicle all the information it needs to navigate successfully.
The shuttle will be a Level 4 autonomous vehicle based on SAE classifications, which constitutes fully automated driving in almost all conditions and will react to unexpected obstacles. Part of the trials will be operating the shuttles 24/7 to capture data in different light and weather conditions.
The vehicle will notably not include a steering wheel.
A second shuttle will be added to the trial in the second year of testing.
Aviva’s motivation for participation in this trial appears to be the gathering of data that can then be used to devise a comprehensive insurance model for autonomous vehicles. 
“With this trial, we’re able to be there right from the start of the real-life application of autonomous vehicles operating on public roads, which will change not only our relationship with these vehicles but, more fundamentally, how we insure them,” explained Nick Amin, Chief Operating Officer at Aviva. “Autonomous vehicles could change the face of motor insurance within a decade. Through having access to the data from this trial, we can understand today the kinds of things we’ll have to consider in the future to keep passengers, pedestrians and all other road users safe when driverless technology hits public roads.”
Despite much fanfare throughout the telecoms industry, especially as it relates to 5G, having fully autonomous vehicles on our roads is still a long way off. Nonetheless, trials like these will be vital in solving not only the technical issues related to the concept, but the inherent logistical issues, such as insurance.
“For any emergent market to be a success, we need to create an ecosystem of companies who share a vision for innovation and are willing to expand their core competency into something new,” said Daniela Petrovic, Delivery Director at Darwin. “Emergent markets are usually found at the intersection of industries, and that is why, for the CAV ecosystem to work, we must gather actors from multiple industries to work together.”
How long before we can see the first fully autonomous vehicles on our roads? Find out from the experts at this year’s Total Telecom Congress

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