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European and UK space agencies start CAV connectivity project

Academia and telecoms operators partner to investigate 5G and satellite systems for connected and autonomous vehicles, with proofs of concept expected for 2020

European and UK space agencies are partnering with mobile operators and universities to develop the connectivity needed for connected and autonomous vehicles (CAVs).

To be based at the Harwell Science and Innovation Campus in Oxfordshire, the research is co-funded through the UK Space Agency’s investment in the European Space Agency’s programme of Advanced Research in Telecommunications Systems (ARTES).

Mobile operators O2, Spanish satellite operator Hispasat and startups developing CAV mobility offerings are key partners of the project.

Oxford and Glasgow universities are also involved, as well as terrestrial and satellite communications specialist Darwin Innovation Group Oxford.

Over a four-year period, Project Darwin will work on projects using 5G and satellite systems to ensure CAVs can operate with the mobile signal they require.

High-level design and the definition phase will begin at Harwell to investigate connected vehicle and vehicle SIM platforms, as well as artificial intelligence neural network integration, from July 2019. First proofs of concept are expected in 2020.

“This partnership between government and industry will build on our world-leading reputation in the development and manufacture of satellites even further, to bring together two of the UK’s great strengths – automotive and space – putting us at the forefront of the next generation of self-driving cars, which is a key ambition in our modern Industrial Strategy,” said business secretary Greg Clark.

The government has invested £120m in research and development of CAV projects since 2014, according to the UK Space Agency, with a further £68m coming from the private sector.

CAVs are expected to generate 4TB of data per hour, according to research from O2. Such “unprecedented levels of data” strengthens the case for projects focused on next-generation connectivity.

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