Driving innovation with the European Space Agency

By Derek McManus, COO at O2

Every day, the world of technology advances. It breaks down barriers. It discovers new limits. Today, we are taking it one step further with the launch of the Darwin SatCom Lab.

Based at the Harwell Science and Innovation Campus in Oxfordshire, the Darwin SatCom Lab will explore and trial next-generation connectivity solutions for connected and autonomous vehicles (CAVs).

The initiative, which is part of Project Darwin, is the first of its kind in the UK. Supported by the European Space Agency, the trial will use both 5G technology and satellite communications to test proofs of concept. Using the Lab, companies will be able to test their most innovative ideas using the on-site CAVs.

Combining 5G technology and satellite communications means we can achieve seamless connectivity for both trains and vehicles. It will essentially extend 5G networks to even the most remote areas, ensuring reliable access across the whole of the UK.

At O2, we are privileged to be working at the forefront of innovation and connectivity. Not only is it immensely exciting, it is also incredibly important. The environment we operate in today is challenging. The climate crisis, economic instability and a global pandemic put unthinkable pressure on almost every sector.

To overcome these challenges and accelerate British recovery, we must think differently. Now is the time to embrace and drive forward innovation. Now is the time to harness the power of technology to help us build a more resilient, greener future.

The Darwin SatCom Lab will help us to do exactly this. The trials will bring us closer to getting autonomous vehicles on the road. Doing so will make the UK’s transport network more efficient and environmentally friendly.

One of the proofs of concept already being tested tracks the CO2 emissions of vehicles. It uses satellite images to see the areas that vehicles are travelling through and monitor local biodiversity. From this data, our in-house 5G Innovation team can calculate the emissions savings of taking different routes based on carbon capture from nearby trees.

We’re really looking forward to opening up the Lab to the public. This is when the project really comes to life. If your business would like to develop a proof of concept and test the power of 5G and satellite communications connectivity, you can book the Lab here.