Darwin will maintain and monitor the service, tracking the shuttle’s location and gathering information about its operation as it travels. Telematics data will be transmitted from the shuttle in real time using Hispasat’s satellite communication channels and O2’s 4G and 5G networks.
The use of satellite communications in this trial is significant. In previous trials, autonomous vehicles have relied on terrestrial wi-fi to stay connected. By making use of satellites in addition to 4G and 5G, autonomous vehicles can operate in rural or remote areas that may not yet have complete cellular coverage.
This shuttle service will help demonstrate the potential of self-driving vehicles to operate in a real-world setting, serving as a step towards the wider use of this technology in the UK. Similar Navya shuttles have been used in an urban setting in Switzerland, and have safely transported tens of thousands of passengers.