Telecomms provider O2 has today (1 October) launched the UK’s first commercial lab – the Darwin SatCom Lab.
O2 has launched 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 and based in the Harwell Science and Innovation Campus in Oxfordshire.
The laboratory, named the Darwin SatCom Lab, is now open to companies looking to explore next generation connectivity solutions for connected and autonomous vehicles (CAVs) using both 5G and satellite communications and is inviting businesses to test driverless cars and use 5G and satellite technology to trial ways of keeping vehicles connected.
With driverless cars and other new major applications requiring seamless connectivity, the UK Space Agency is supporting companies to access satellite communications. This is not only growing the UK space sector but opening it up to companies that had previously not been able to access space.
Science Minister Amanda Solloway said:
At the site, 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 allow them to be controlled from the Lab and driven around 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 each TWIZY, including their position, movement and speed.
The 4G systems we are familiar with on our mobiles operate with a throughput of about one gigabit (1,000,000,000 bits) per second. By contrast, 5G has a data rate of 20 gigabits.