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UK’s first driverless car lab launches in Oxfordshire

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The UK’s first commercial lab trailing driverless cars incorporating 5G and satellite technology has been launched in Oxfordshire. 


The new Darwin SatCom Lab, based at the Harwell Science and Innovation Campus, will look to invite business to come to the site and test their driverless vehicles.


Headed up by O2 and utilising funding from both the Government and the UK Space Agency, the research lab will also investigate how 5G technology and satellites can be used to keep vehicles connected. 


Seen as a key factor in the development of autonomous vehicles, 5G can help reduce the time it takes for information to be both sent and received. This is critical for driverless cars as they rely on scans of the environment around them to be processed quickly in order for the vehicle to ‘see’ where it is going. 


Satellites are also being looked at to ensure that driverless cars can still operate correctly in areas where mobile phone signal is at its weakest. 


Amanda Solloway, Science Minister, said: “The UK’s space sector is applying pioneering technologies such as satellite and 5G to essential products and services that will help to transform our everyday lives.


“I am incredibly excited that O2’s first of its kind driverless car lab will enable our most innovative businesses to test these technologies and bring us another step closer to putting self-driving vehicles safely on our roads.”


O2 chief operating officer Derek McManus said: “We’re delighted to announce that the Darwin SatCom Lab is now open for business at Harwell Campus, allowing companies to put theory into practice and test innovative ideas using our connected and autonomous vehicles.


“The Lab is further proof that O2 is at the forefront of connectivity and accelerating Britain’s recovery by helping British businesses to harness the power of 5G and satellite communications in order to benefit their customers.


“It’s the next step in getting autonomous vehicles on the road and making the UK’s transport network greener.”




Published: Wednesday 07, Oct, 2020
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