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20 May 2022

Darwin: innovation in the use of 5G for connected mobility services

Darwin: innovation in the use of 5G for connected mobility services

Rodrigo Barreto, Darwin’s lead architect, has written this overview of Darwin’s inspiration, achievements and plans for the future.

Rodrigo Barreto, Darwin’s lead architect, has written this overview of Darwin’s inspiration, achievements and plans for the future. It was originally posted in Portuguese on Portal 5G. - Mobile and satellite communication services have historically developed in parallel. At times, the satellite communications industry has offered telephony services to end users, with the most notable examples including Thuraya, Globalstar and Iridium. These services, however, have limited data communication capacity and relatively low adoption. Otherwise, companies specialising in satellite communications have focused on facilitating the interconnection between radio base stations and telephone exchanges as the main way of integrating the two technological strands. Thus there is a gap between satellite communications providers and terrestrial mobile service providers, each focusing on the area where they have the greatest competitive advantage and rarely looking for joint solutions for user access. The mobile segment has not been able to develop full geographic coverage for data services, and the satellite segment has not been used to fill these gaps in coverage in an integrated manner. This is what inspired the Darwin Project. For a technological innovation proposal to gain momentum, the timing needs to be right. In 2019, when the concept for the Darwin Project began to take shape, the following clear trends were already visible: an explosion in the number of data connections for devices, with increasing requirements for broadband communication capacity and, in the case of vehicles, the added requirement of mobility a decrease in the price of satellite broadband services, although these were almost always provided at a fixed location the emergence of flat antennas for broadband satellite communication services, enabling mobile usage through the use of dynamic beam forming and steering a developing interest among standardisation bodies in the convergence of satellite and mobile communications, including proposals to study communication using 5G radio forms via satellite from 3GPP Release 16 The idea of combining satellite and terrestrial mobile service networks to enable seamless user access was born. This would allow satellite and terrestrial networks to complement each other, enabling vehicles to benefit from uninterrupted connectivity on the move. Data platform services were added to this concept; these would allow companies to visualise their fleet telemetry data and enjoy specialised services according to their vertical of operation. Finally, taking into account the fact that the future of mobility is tied to autonomy, the theme of connected autonomous mobility joined the mix. The idea immediately resonated with high-level managers at Telefónica, a company at which Daniela Petrovic, one of the founders of the Darwin Project, had long been acting as delivery director on large transformation projects. In addition to filling several innovation gaps in which Telefónica had an interest, such as use cases for 5G and advanced cases of machine-to-machine connectivity, the idea could benefit from a similar initiative where Telefónica, Hispasat and Renfe had worked together since 2015 to enable continuous broadband access on Spanish high-speed trains. Telefónica decided that there was merit in offering seed capital – a specific financing model for business projects in their initial phase, usually used by startups – to explore the concept. For greater flexibility, the independent startup format was chosen. This allowed the new company, Darwin Innovation Group, to compete for a grant, in a matched funding format, from the UK Space Agency (UKSA). With the seed capital sponsored by Telefónica UK and a grant approved by UKSA, the Darwin Project was kicked off. The first phase of the project, under the supervision of the European Space Agency (ESA), the operational arm administering the UKSA grant, served to consolidate the concept. At this stage, in partnership with Telefónica UK, Hispasat and the University of Glasgow, Darwin worked to: identify use cases that would benefit from uninterrupted communications and connected mobility detail the business requirements of these use cases analyse the regulatory environment for autonomous mobility services and for the communication services involved analyse and define the evolution roadmap for solution components such as terminal, antenna, core network, business support systems etc. map business models and detail the concept of service operations develop two patents to protect intellectual property Following this, or in some cases in parallel, Darwin initiated practical activities to demonstrate the concepts behind the project. These included: acquiring Renault Twizy electric vehicles, adapted by StreetDrone for fly-by-wire operation, for use as a software development platform for autonomous mobility transforming a van into a Connected Mobile Test Unit, equipped with a flat antenna for satellite communications, an antenna for terrestrial communications, and a hybrid satellite and 5G communications terminal developing the SatCom Lab, with a fully integrated environment for satellite and 5G connectivity through a private network provided by Telefónica UK, for the development and testing of terminal and network configurations developing embedded and cloud applications that enable IoT communications, the processing of collected data and the graphical presentation of the resulting information via a website This process culminated in field testing when we used the Connected Mobile Test Unit to assess connectivity levels as we travelled around Cornwall, known for its challenges in relation to both satellite and terrestrial connectivity due to irregular terrain and dense vegetation in certain areas. The demonstration was a success; while connectivity was available 90% of the time for terrestrial mobile services and 80% of the time for satellite communications services, our integrated terrestrial and satellite solution maintained a connection to cloud services for more than 99% of the time. All tested services, such as streaming live video, transferring large files, teleconferencing and browsing web pages, maintained an almost unchanged quality of experience for the user, who could not even notice the transitions taking place between terrestrial and satellite networks. Separately, Darwin had the opportunity to compete for one of ESA’s new matched funding projects in the area of ​​mobility. Darwin won the tender with the proposal to develop a passenger transport service at Harwell Science and Innovation Campus, where both ESA and Darwin are located. The Darwin Autonomous Shuttle service is differentiated by its use of a self-driving shuttle with uninterrupted connectivity using 5G and satellite communications. The main sponsor this time is the insurance company Aviva, which is interested in having access to data to develop new insurance products for autonomous vehicles. A new Pandora’s box had been opened, and Darwin found itself confronted with the regulations necessary to operate an autonomous passenger service in the UK. With the help of public bodies such as the CCAV (Centre for Connected Autonomous Vehicles), we were able to identify and fulfil the main administrative requirements: vehicle import, respecting legal terms (HMRC) determining the vehicle as suitable for transit on public roads (DVSA) obtaining the vehicle registration plate (DVLA) notifying various agencies, public administration bodies and police of the details of the operation approval for service operation on the route During the pilot operation, the necessary operational processes were developed and the safety operators were trained. These operators, for legal reasons, need to be inside the vehicle to intervene in its control if necessary. After this phase and with the appropriate approvals, the service moved to a regular operation phase with open access to campus pass holders and their guests. As can be seen, three years of intense activities have passed and have already borne much fruit. But there is much more to come in our plans for the future: in 2021 we launched operations in Málaga, Spain, where we intend to establish a laboratory with a focus on data security solutions and vehicle autonomy software development in 2021 we also started collaboration on the development of software for level 4 autonomous vehicles, and we are working to demonstrate this capability with a view to transferring it to other commercial vehicles we are following the latest developments in 5G standardisation, the new launches of flat antennas for satellite communication and the capabilities of low Earth orbit (LEO) satellite constellations, and we anticipate great evolution of our connectivity solution over 2022 and 2023 we are developing a prototype integrated terminal and within the next six months we will have equipment certified for use in vehicles in various territories in order to leverage our business activity, we will develop virtual network operator capabilities across 2022 and early 2023, building the entire IT platform necessary for our relationship with customers and partners Finally, we are hungry for innovation and have an immense desire to help create a more sustainable future in the area of mobility. On this journey, we would be honoured to consider commercial proposals to work closely with other companies and institutions. Rodrigo Barreto, Darwin Lead Architect Darwin Innovation Group is an Oxfordshire-based R&D company focusing on autonomous vehicles and communications, both terrestrial and satellite. If you’d like to keep up with our articles, you can follow us on LinkedIn or Twitter, or subscribe to our newsletter on the What We Do page. If you’re interested in working with us, take a look at our careers page.
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10 May 2022

How to make your car battery last longer

How to make your car battery last longer

If you want to minimise your carbon footprint, an electric car will usually be a better choice than one that uses fossil fuels. You can further reduce your impact on the environment – and the cost of running your vehicle – by taking care of your car battery. In this post, we’re talking about how to prolong EV battery life.

If you want to minimise your carbon footprint, an electric car will usually be a better choice than one that uses fossil fuels; we talk about the benefits of electric vehicles in our article on self-driving cars and the environment. You can further reduce your impact on the environment – and the cost of running your vehicle – by taking care of your car battery. In this post, we’re talking about how to prolong EV battery life. What do we mean when we talk about extending electric car battery life? When we talk about extending the life of an electric car battery, we could mean either of two things: We want to extend the range of an electric car. In other words, we’d like to make sure the battery lasts as long as possible before needing to be recharged. We want to prevent the battery from losing its charging capacity to the point where it’s no longer useful. In other words, we’d like to make sure the battery lasts as long as possible before needing to be replaced. Of course, you’re probably hoping to achieve both of these things. When you’re driving an electric vehicle, it’s best to have a battery that rarely needs charging and remains useable for many years. They’re also both desirable from an environmental point of view. If a battery rarely needs recharging, that reduces your vehicle’s emissions from electricity generation. If a battery rarely needs replacing, that reduces your vehicle’s emissions from battery production. Because of this, we’re going to look at both aims in this article. Tips to extend EV battery life Only plug your car in to charge when you need to. It can be tempting to plug your vehicle in every night, but unnecessary charging puts the battery under unnecessary strain, causing its capacity to deplete faster. In other words, the more you charge your battery, the more you’ll need to charge your battery. Only use fast chargers when necessary. If you’ve stopped in the middle of a long journey, you might need to top up with a fast charger. They’re harder on your battery than regular chargers, though, so, if you’re not in a hurry, regular chargers are a better option. Try to avoid either charging fully or letting the battery run flat. It’s worth checking whether the manufacturer recommends specific percentages, but general advice is to keep your vehicle’s charge between 20 and 80%, avoiding the extremes of 0 and 100%. Some electric vehicle manufacturers let you specify a maximum charge, in which case your vehicle won’t charge past that point even if you don’t unplug it straight away. It’s fine if you occasionally need to charge to full for a long journey, but it's worth keeping this in mind for day-to-day use. Try not to leave your car exposed in hot weather. If you have access to a garage, tuck your car away in high temperatures. Even if you don’t have a garage, you can take steps to reduce the impact of temperature on your car’s battery, such as parking in the shade on hot days. Tips to maximise EV battery range If it’s cold, time your charging so you can set off as soon as it’s done. Batteries work less efficiently in the cold. If the battery’s just been charging, though, it’s going to be nicely warmed up for your journey. Bear in mind that charging can also take longer in cold weather. Make use of regenerative braking to extend your EV’s range. Regenerative braking captures some of the energy usually lost in braking and uses it to restore a small amount of charge to the car’s battery. This might seem to contradict the ‘only charge your vehicle when you need to’ advice, but Keil and Jossen’s 2015 paper ‘Aging of Lithium-Ion Batteries in Electric Vehicles: Impact of Regenerative Braking’ suggests that regenerative braking may in fact be good for your battery in the long term as well as the short term. Remember that heating or air conditioning will draw energy from the battery. Your comfort is important; don’t sit there and freeze when the temperature’s low. It’s hard to concentrate at extreme temperatures, and, when you’re driving, concentration is more important than range. If the temperature is tolerable and you’re worried about whether you’ll make it to your destination before needing to recharge, though, you can extend your range by turning the climate control off. Avoid sudden acceleration and sharp braking where possible. Smoother driving consumes less energy. Reduce the weight of the vehicle if you can. The heavier your car, the more energy it takes to move it. If you’ve got a boot full of firewood you keep forgetting to store, remove it before your next journey. A final note on preserving car batteries These are general tips that will serve you well with most electric cars. Different vehicles have different needs, though, and we don’t know exactly what you’re driving. It’s worth checking to see whether your car’s manufacturer has put out advice on their electric vehicles. For example, Tesla has a page of range tips for Tesla drivers and Volkswagen has some advice on the page ‘How far your electric car can go’. Take a look at your car manual, too; some vehicles have eco modes that limit their power or shut off extraneous features in order to conserve battery life. With an awareness of both the general needs of batteries and the specific needs of your car, we hope you’ll be able to keep using your battery for as long as possible. Safe driving! Darwin Innovation Group is an Oxfordshire-based R&D company focusing on autonomous vehicles and communications, both terrestrial and satellite. If you’d like to keep up with our articles, you can follow us on LinkedIn or Twitter, or subscribe to our newsletter on the What We Do page. If you’re interested in working with us, take a look at our careers page.
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26 April 2022

What happens to old satellites?

What happens to old satellites?

There are thousands of artificial satellites orbiting Earth, carrying out tasks from navigation to enabling communications to wildfire monitoring. What happens when a satellite reaches the end of its life, though?

There are two main ways old satellites are disposed of: they’re brought back to Earth, or they’re sent further away. We’re going to take a look at those disposal methods here.

There are thousands of artificial satellites orbiting Earth, carrying out tasks from navigation to enabling communications to wildfire monitoring. What happens when a satellite reaches the end of its life, though? There are two main ways old satellites are disposed of: they’re brought back to Earth, or they’re sent further away. We’re going to take a look at those disposal methods here. Satellites falling to Earth Old satellites can’t just be left in orbit, because leaving defunct satellites in place could obstruct the path of operational satellites later on, and satellites left unmaintained in low orbits will eventually come back down to Earth. By kicking a satellite into a controlled descent when it reaches the end of its life, satellite teams reduce the number of obstacles in space and ensure there won’t be an uncontrolled descent later. It’s possible to push a satellite into descent by operating its thrusters from Earth. In orbit, a satellite doesn’t need to use thrusters; it’s kept moving by gravity. Essentially, an object in orbit is constantly falling towards the planet, while moving forward at such a speed that it will never actually reach the planet’s surface. However, it’s usual for a satellite to have some means of propulsion, which can help when placing it in orbit or making small adjustments. When a satellite is reaching the end of its life, the satellite team on ground level can use its thrusters to slow it down. As the satellite is no longer travelling fast enough to go past the curve of the planet before being pulled down to the surface, gravity takes over and the satellite falls to Earth. Smaller satellites will burn up in the atmosphere as they descend. The speed of the satellite meeting the resistance of the air creates friction and therefore heat. The satellite breaks into pieces, and these pieces will often burn away before they can reach the ground. Occasionally, you might get the opportunity to see a burning satellite; they can appear in the form of a distant fireball streaking across the night sky. They’re no cause for concern, but they can be slightly alarming for people who don’t know what they’re looking at. The European Space Agency (ESA) has shared remarkable footage of the Jules Verne cargo delivery spacecraft burning on re-entry in 2008. Some satellites are designed to stay intact through their descent and land safely on Earth, even if they’re unmanned. For example, what if, while it’s in space, a research satellite gathers material that will need to be tested on Earth? What if a satellite is launched with the goal of seeing how space radiation or low gravity will affect its cargo? In cases like this, if the satellite is destroyed on descent, the material it carries will be lost before research can be carried out. However, most satellites are designed under the assumption that they’ll spend their entire working lives in space. By the time they return to Earth, they’ve done everything they needed to do, so it’s not a problem if they burn up in the atmosphere. In fact, in some ways it’s beneficial, as it reduces the amount of debris that falls to Earth. What is the spacecraft cemetery? A satellite won’t always burn up completely as it descends. Parts of larger satellites might survive the fall to the Earth’s surface. These pieces of debris might cause damage if they landed in inhabited areas, so satellite descents are carefully calculated. When satellite teams plunge a satellite back into the atmosphere, they’re often aiming for a specific location: the spacecraft cemetery. This is located at Point Nemo, also known as the oceanic pole of inaccessibility: the point in the ocean that’s furthest from land and therefore hardest to reach. It lies in the South Pacific Ocean, between New Zealand and Chile, over 2,600 km from solid ground. Because Point Nemo is so remote, it was chosen as a place to land decommissioned satellites without the risk of hitting inhabited areas or ships. For context, the International Space Station orbits at about 420 km from Earth. If you travelled 2,600 km, you could go to the ISS and back three times. The spacecraft cemetery already houses the remains of hundreds of satellites and is likely to see many more. According to BBC News, over 260 spacecraft had been crashed at Point Nemo as of 2017. What is a graveyard orbit? The higher a satellite is, the more fuel it takes to slow it down enough to fall out of orbit. This means it’s difficult to bring high-altitude satellites back down to Earth when they reach the end of their life. For satellites in very high orbits, such as geosynchronous (GSO) satellites, disposal isn’t a matter of preventing a later natural descent. In lower orbits, satellites experience small amounts of air drag, slowing them down; this is why low Earth orbit satellites can’t keep orbiting indefinitely without maintenance. GSO satellites are well above the atmosphere and don’t encounter this drag. However, it’s still best not to leave high-altitude satellites in place when they’re no longer useful, as they might obstruct other satellites. This is a particular concern with geostationary (GEO) satellites, which need to follow the equator at a specific height. Theoretically, if GEO satellites kept being added but were never removed, the GEO orbital path would eventually be too full to add new satellites. Therefore, satellites in high orbits are sometimes sent into a graveyard orbit, as this uses less fuel than bringing them back down to Earth. A graveyard orbit is an orbit a few hundred kilometres above the GEO/GSO orbital altitude of 35,786 km. Satellites in a graveyard orbit are well above any operational artificial Earth satellites, so they won’t currently cause any obstruction. However, leaving satellites in orbit after the end of their lives contributes to the problem of space debris, which we’ll talk about in more detail in a later article. The more material there is orbiting Earth, the greater the risk of issues like obstruction and collision. Although graveyard orbits are out of the way of active satellites, the satellites accumulating in them may eventually cause problems for other space missions. Can satellites be recycled? These methods are clever ways of ensuring that satellites don’t cause problems after reaching the end of their lives. However, there’s room for improvement. If satellites burn away, land in inaccessible areas or are pushed further out into space, the materials can’t be reused. Because of this, organisations are researching methods of satellite disposal that could allow satellite materials to be recycled. Part of the problem is that it’s difficult to either retrieve materials from space or recycle them in space without using large quantities of resources. If the act of recycling uses more resources than it would save, attempting to recycle satellite parts would ultimately just result in a greater loss of resources. Because of this, it’s important to research more efficient ways of recycling materials that have been sent into space. ESA has been looking into the potential for in-orbit satellite recycling, and you can read about their efforts here. Darwin Innovation Group is an Oxfordshire-based R&D company focusing on autonomous vehicles and communications, both terrestrial and satellite. If you’d like to keep up with our articles, you can follow us on LinkedIn or Twitter, or subscribe to our newsletter on the What We Do page. If you’re interested in working with us, take a look at our careers page.
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12 April 2022

What’s it like to operate an autonomous passenger vehicle?

What’s it like to operate an autonomous passenger vehicle?

It can seem strange to talk about ‘operating’ an autonomous vehicle; after all, autonomous vehicles operate themselves. At the moment, though, UK law requires a safety driver or operator to be present for any autonomous vehicle trial. The operator can be inside the vehicle or monitoring it from elsewhere, but they must be ready to take control of the vehicle at any point if necessary.

Paul Proteasa and Peter Antal have been serving as safety operators aboard the Darwin Autonomous Shuttle, an autonomous public transport service supported by ESA, for several months now. We spoke to them about what it’s like to operate the shuttle, and how it differs from their past experience with driving buses.

It can seem strange to talk about ‘operating’ an autonomous vehicle; after all, autonomous vehicles operate themselves. At the moment, though, UK law requires a safety driver or operator to be present for any autonomous vehicle trial. The operator can be inside the vehicle or monitoring it from elsewhere, but they must be ready to take control of the vehicle at any point if necessary. Paul Proteasa and Peter Antal have been serving as safety operators aboard the Darwin Autonomous Shuttle, an autonomous public transport service supported by ESA, for several months now. We spoke to them about what it’s like to operate the shuttle, and how it differs from their past experience with driving buses. How does operating an autonomous vehicle differ from driving a bus? At first, operating the shuttle felt strange and disconcerting. It had no steering wheel, so the operators instead had to become acquainted with a handheld controller and the on-board emergency stop button. It turned out to be much like riding a bike, though; with experience, the required skills quickly became ingrained until they felt natural. Aboard the shuttle, you find yourself thinking two steps ahead in a way you don’t on a bus. As a bus driver, if you see something unexpected, your role is to directly react to it by moving or stopping the bus. As the operator of an autonomous shuttle, if you see something unexpected, your next move is to anticipate how the shuttle will react to this event, and whether you’ll need to react to that. Another significant difference between driving a bus and serving as a safety operator is the fact that, when you’re standing by as a safety operator aboard an autonomous vehicle, you can talk to passengers. In fact, this is an important part of the operator’s role on the Darwin Autonomous Shuttle. Many people who board the shuttle may not have ridden an autonomous vehicle before, so they may have questions or uncertainties, and the operator is there to answer those questions. It took Paul some practice before he was able to speak to passengers while the shuttle was moving. At first, when people tried to talk to him, he wouldn’t hear it because he was so focused on the road ahead. By now, he’s mastered the art of speaking while keeping his attention on the road. Learning to train new operators Fully autonomous vehicles are still a rare sight, which means that few people have personal experience with their operation. In other words, autonomous vehicle operators have valuable knowledge that others can benefit from. In early February, when the Darwin Autonomous Shuttle had been running for a couple of months, Darwin’s operators underwent Navya’s ‘Train the Trainer’ course; Navya is the autonomous vehicle developer behind the shuttle’s creation. Julien Brulé, Navya’s head of customer delegation, came to Harwell to teach Peter and Paul how they could impart their knowledge to new operators, with two days of theoretical training and one day of practical training on the shuttle. Peter and Paul felt they took a lot from the experience. The things they were being trained on were things they already knew, as they had already been operating the shuttle for some time. However, they were taught how to think about these things more consciously, and how to explain them to others. Essentially, they learnt how to look at what they were doing from a teacher’s perspective, so they would then be able to teach the required skills to other people. Peter and Paul were quick to put their newfound teaching skills into action. A month after the Train the Trainer course, they trained Irving Galva Tapia to be Darwin’s newest autonomous shuttle operator, with Paul in charge of theoretical training and Peter handling practical training on the shuttle. The focused one-on-one training went quickly and well, and we’re delighted to welcome Irving to the team! We’re hoping to launch the Darwin Autonomous Shuttle service in other locations, such as Málaga, so the expertise and teaching skills of our shuttle operators will continue to be valuable in the future. We’ll also be gathering and sharing some thoughts about the experience of autonomous vehicles from a passenger’s perspective, so keep an eye out for future articles! Darwin Innovation Group is an Oxfordshire-based R&D company focusing on autonomous vehicles and communications, both terrestrial and satellite. If you’d like to keep up with our articles, you can follow us on LinkedIn or Twitter, or subscribe to our newsletter on the What We Do page. If you’re interested in working with us, take a look at our careers page.
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29 March 2022

Darwin at MWC Barcelona 2022

Darwin at MWC Barcelona 2022

MWC Barcelona, one of the biggest annual events in the telecommunications industry, ran from 28 February to 3 March this year. Rodrigo Barreto, our lead architect, shares his experience at the event in this post.

MWC Barcelona, one of the biggest annual events in the telecommunications industry, ran from 28 February to 3 March this year. Rodrigo Barreto, our lead architect, shares his experience at the event in this post. - The Mobile World Congress is traditionally the largest international event in telecommunications. It is where behemoth companies make impactful announcements on the launching of new technologies, on the signing of mega customer contracts and on the formation of strategic partnerships. It is a once-in-a-year opportunity to meet the majority of relevant players (notably, Apple is the exception) under a single roof (actually, seven different halls in a single complex – more on that later), and also a chance to witness up-and-comers from all over the world exhibiting their offerings as part of the many national pavilions that are present at the event. Expectations of MWC2022 were at a boiling point in more than one way, as this was the first major edition post-pandemic and after a number of major shifts in international relationships. Darwin had a prominent presence at MWC this year. Our satcom partners, Hispasat, were eager to display our cooperation as a success case of integration between terrestrial and satellite communications, and our presence at their stand provided very relevant visibility. Navigating MWC 2022 Coming to the conference, Milos (our CEO/CTO) and I were keen on synchronising thoughts on our game plan. We agreed we would apportion time between the Hispasat stand and walking the floor, and we defined target objectives in areas such as collecting competitive intelligence, identifying potential partners in strategic areas and solidifying existing partner relationships. We knew that drawing a precise plan is always an elusive task, and so we also allowed ourselves flexibility and opportunities for discovery and exploring; you never know who you will meet or which opportunities will present themselves at events like this. Arriving at the Fira Barcelona, we quickly realised that, thankfully, the crowds were back. However, contrary to what I have witnessed in previous editions of the MWC, gaining access to the show was straightforward and extremely fast thanks to the face recognition system that the organisers had put in place; all required data had been collected as part of the registration process. Once we were inside the venue, it was time to make our way to the Hispasat stand. It sounds like a simple enough task, but it took us a good hour and a half to accomplish it. First stop, bumping accidentally into a long-time acquaintance in front of the Nokia stand. A few minutes more, and another friendly encounter at the Mavenir stand. Then off to Hall 7, but not without first trying to mentally map the location of the stands of key companies along the way in each of the intermediary halls. The Fira is divided into seven huge halls, which are all interconnected. In normal circumstances, reaching Hall 7 from the entrance would take 10 to 15 minutes in a brisk walk using the covered footbridge. However, if you walk the show floor in a zigzag fashion from hall to hall, as we did arriving for the first time into the show, the time required can easily expand to 45 minutes. The topics of discussion at MWC 2022 The technologies, products and services showcased during the Mobile World Congress are always very extensive, but a more limited number end up being part of a common industry narrative. This year the topics that were high on the agenda included the Metaverse, green solutions for otherwise power-hungry telco infrastructure, the disaggregation and opening up of radio access networks (Open RAN), and the wide use of AI to automate telco operations (Zero Everything). On the opposite side of the spectrum, topics that were super-hot in the narrative from previous years ended up a bit diluted. We expected to see more on 5G use cases and particularly on support of automotive mobility (C-V2X); this was prominent at the Qualcomm stand, with technology maturity at the level of proofs of concept, but we didn’t see it at many other stands. Another observation is that the industry as a whole is still largely focused on making 5G a mainstream technology; the focus is not yet on 6G. The topic closest to our hearts, convergence between terrestrial and non-terrestrial networks, was mostly visible at Hispasat and Intelsat’s stands – not surprisingly, satellite operators. Beyond the event It is almost impossible to dissociate the experience of attending the Mobile World Congress from the warmth of its host city. Beautiful Barcelona is so well prepared to accommodate the large influx of visitors and offers so much in terms of cultural, gastronomic and general leisure/sightseeing opportunities. Visitors can easily recover from the burden of a busy day of commitments by, for instance, going for dinner at one of the many tapas bars in the old city. We certainly took full advantage of these opportunities, including cementing partnerships by enjoying a good meal in a relaxed environment – for example, in the picture below, socialising with our friends at Cognizant. Back from the show, it is time to follow up on the contacts and conversations initiated in Barcelona and, regrettably, also time to embark on a diet. See you next year, MWC Barcelona! Rodrigo Barreto, Darwin Lead Architect Darwin Innovation Group is an Oxfordshire-based R&D company focusing on autonomous vehicles and communications, both terrestrial and satellite. If you’d like to keep up with our articles, you can follow us on LinkedIn or Twitter, or subscribe to our newsletter on the What We Do page. If you’re interested in working with us, take a look at our careers page.
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