Darwin and Cognizant demonstrate remote operations for autonomous shuttle

On 14 June 2023, Darwin and Cognizant collaborated to demonstrate remote operation of a self-driving vehicle: the Darwin Autonomous Shuttle. The demonstration took place as part of a summit hosted by Cognizant. From Cognizant’s Analyst Conference in London, commands were sent to the shuttle in Oxfordshire, allowing City analysts to see how the vehicle could be controlled remotely.

The Darwin Autonomous Shuttle was located at Harwell Science and Innovation Campus, with a trained safety operator present to oversee the demonstration. From 50 miles away, in London, Darwin’s co-founder Milos Petrovic sent remote instructions to the empty shuttle, such as commands for the vehicle to start, stop, open its doors or travel to the next stop on its route. Milos and the other attendees were able to see the shuttle carrying out instructions via a live video link.

While autonomous vehicles are usually self-driving, being able to send instructions to these vehicles remotely is nonetheless valuable. For example:

  • Autonomous public transport or taxi services could change their route based on remote requests from people who need the service.
  • Similarly, autonomous pickup or delivery services could be remotely requested when required.
  • Remotely operated vehicles could be used to scout, carry supplies into or carry people out of hazardous areas, allowing the operator to remain at a safe distance.
  • UK law requires a safety operator to monitor the vehicle during autonomous vehicle trials, but the operator may monitor the vehicle remotely for greater flexibility, rather than being physically present aboard it.

When commanding a vehicle remotely, connectivity is an important consideration. It’s essential to maintain a connection with the vehicle at all times, enabling the remote operator to stay aware of the vehicle’s position and react to developments. Darwin’s ubiquitous communications technology bolsters terrestrial networks with satellite telecommunications, helping to maintain a reliable connection even with a moving vehicle.

It’s also important to take digital security measures, ensuring no unauthorised person can send their own instructions to the vehicle. In order to make sure the link between the remote operator and the vehicle remains secure, Darwin has been collaborating with Telefónica Tech’s security experts on connected and autonomous vehicle (CAV) security.

To learn more about Darwin’s work with Cognizant, take a look at our press release ‘Darwin collaborates with Cognizant to enable wider reach of CAV market’.

Darwin Innovation Group is a UK-based company that provides services related to autonomous vehicles and communications. If you’re interested in working with us, take a look at our careers page. If you’d like to know how we can help your organisation make use of autonomous vehicles, contact us. You can also follow us on LinkedIn or Twitter.

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