Telefonica is to be the telco partner of the DRIVEN consortium – a government funded campaign to trial autonomous vehicles on the UK’s roads.
Led by Oxford based AI company Oxbotica, the consortium will see a fleet of fully automated vehicles being tested in urban areas and motorways throughout 2019. Other members include the Oxford Robotics Institute, XL Catlin, Nominet, the Transport Research Laboratory, the UK Atomic Energy Authority, Oxfordshire County Council, TFL and Westbourne Communications.
The consortium states that a key challenge will be providing automatic account data from both the vehicle and surrounding sources such as traffic control systems, in order to ‘radically transform how insurance and autonomous vehicles will work together.’
Commenting on the announcement, a spokesperson from O2 stated, ‘O2 is proud to be part of the DRIVEN consortium which is planning to deploy a fleet of connected, fully autonomous vehicles at a level of complexity and integration never before attempted anywhere in the world. O2's role is to ensure safe transmission and delivery of the critical data generated by the autonomous vehicles as well as working with XL Caitlin and Nominet to help keep this data safe and secure.’
The DRIVEN consortium received £8.6 million from Innovate UK – a non-departmental government body, in order to further the UK’s role as a testbed for autonomous vehicles, as outlined in the Government’s March annual budget announcement. During this announcement, the Government set aside £100 million to invest in ’disruptive technologies’. At the time the Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond stated that the cash was to ‘keep the UK at the forefront of disruptive technologies like biotech, robotic systems and driverless vehicles.’ However, experts at Siemens and BMW have queried how achievable this is amidst the impact of Brexit on the automotive industry in the UK and on autonomous vehicle legislation.
Commenting on DRIVEN’s launch, Dr Graeme Smith, Chief Executive of Oxbotica, said, ‘Today’s news is truly ground-breaking. No company, group or consortium of autonomy experts has ever attempted what DRIVEN is planning over the next 30-months. We are seeking to address some of the most fundamental challenges preventing the future commercial deployment of fully autonomous vehicles. I have full confidence in DRIVEN’s world-leading and internationally respected team of specialists to deliver this project.’
The O2 spokesperson added, ‘O2 believes developments in areas including secure data transfer will be the key to future developments in mobility, including congestion relief, car sharing and other innovative schemes. O2 also has a strong track record in machine to machine communication and particularly in driverless cars, including being a core partner of the Greenwich Automated Transport Environment (GATEway) project which has seen driverless vehicles travelling autonomously near The O2 in London.’