News Staff October 2, 2020

Telecomms provider O2, backed by the Government, has today (1 October) launched the UK’s first commercial lab – the Darwin SatCom Lab.

  • Businesses will trial driverless cars that use 5G and satellite technology to stay connected.

5G could address many of the technical challenges faced by driverless cars by providing stronger, faster and more reliable data signals. While satellite technology can augment 5G connectivity, allowing the vehicles to operate safely in areas that suffer from poor mobile phone signal.

Reducing the time it takes for information to be sent and received – the latency – compared to 4G is vital to the development of these cars, and could slash the current 20 milliseconds of lag to 1 millisecond – the equivalent of a camera flash.

Backed by funding from the UK Space Agency, the new lab – based at the Harwell Science and Innovation Campus in Oxfordshire – will invite 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.