The programme will look to expedite the development of network technology for a range of connected vehicle initiatives

O2 has teamed up with the European Space Agency to launch Project Darwin – a four year initiative that will explore the potential of connected and autonomous vehicles using 5G and satellite technology.
The project will be based at the Hawell Science and Innovation Campus in Oxfordshire, and will see collaboration between the universities of Oxford and Glasgow, as well as Spanish satellite operator, Hispasat.
“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. 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,” said Derek McManus, COO at O2.
Research commissioned by O2 last year found that connected vehicles are expected to generate an unprecedented 4Tb of data per hour, placing huge demand on the country’s telecommunications networks. Project Darwin will explore solutions using both 5G networks and satellite communication technology.    
Project Darwin is expected to reveal its first proof of concept findings from its research into key connected vehicle and Vehicle-SIM platforms as well as AI neural network integration, from the middle of 2020.
“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. The future of mobility is one of the UK government’s Industrial Strategy Grand Challenges, and this project will help ensure this critical technology is developed in Harwell, bringing expertise, jobs and growth to the UK,” said Catherine Mealing-Jones, Director of Growth, UK Space Agency.
Earlier this year, O2 announced the launch of its 5G connected vehicle test bed at the Millbrook Proving Ground in Bedfordshire.
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