NEWS

25 January 2023

Darwin to bring second autonomous vehicle to UK in partnership with Auve Tech

Darwin to bring second autonomous vehicle to UK in partnership with Auve Tech

The Darwin Autonomous Shuttle service began in late 2021, making it the longest-running autonomous passenger service in the UK. Throughout the service, the shuttle has been looked after by Darwin’s trained and dedicated safety operators. Darwin’s operators have now expanded their range of expertise by completing their training to operate Iseauto, a self-driving shuttle developed by Auve Tech.

Auve is an Estonian developer of self-driving vehicles, and its shuttles have already been deployed in countries such as Finland and Greece. Its modern, compact autonomous shuttle will be operated alongside the existing Darwin Autonomous Shuttle at Harwell Science and Innovation Campus in Oxfordshire.

The Darwin Autonomous Shuttle service began in late 2021, making it the longest-running autonomous passenger service in the UK. Throughout the service, the shuttle has been looked after by Darwin’s trained and dedicated safety operators. Darwin’s operators have now expanded their range of expertise by completing their training to operate Iseauto, a self-driving shuttle developed by Auve Tech. Auve is an Estonian developer of self-driving vehicles, and its shuttles have already been deployed in countries such as Finland and Greece. Its modern, compact autonomous shuttle will be operated alongside the existing Darwin Autonomous Shuttle at Harwell Science and Innovation Campus in Oxfordshire. Like the current Darwin Autonomous Shuttle, the Auve shuttle at Harwell will be insured by Darwin’s partner Aviva. Currently, the UK’s automated vehicle trialling Code of Practice requires a trained safety operator to monitor the situation at all times during autonomous vehicle trials. By training its operators on different shuttles, Darwin is broadening the scope of what it can do with autonomous vehicles. Bringing the Auve shuttle to Harwell will help to establish multiple manufacturers of connected and autonomous vehicles (CAVs) in the UK. Broadening the variety of vehicles available is valuable, as different vehicles have different strengths. For example, Auve’s vehicles are particularly suited for environments with harsh weather conditions. By expanding its autonomous vehicle fleet, Darwin intends to introduce the public to a variety of self-driving vehicles, gather data, and understand the service needs of different CAVs. This will help Darwin to develop the CAV market in the UK and refine its platform of CAV services, including training operators, commissioning new CAV routes and maintaining autonomous vehicles. Darwin’s technology, developed in collaboration with Telefónica, ESA and Hispasat, makes it possible to track and monitor the shuttle in real time. The existing Darwin Autonomous Shuttle can be tracked from a public webpage created by Darwin and Cognizant, including some gathered statistics; as of January 2023, the shuttle has autonomously travelled over 5,000 miles and carried over 1,000 passengers. All of this is made possible by Harwell Campus supporting the on-site operation of autonomous vehicles, and Darwin is grateful to campus management for their vision and encouragement of innovation. The Auve shuttle training follows other activities between Darwin and Auve, including a visit from the Darwin team to Auve’s headquarters in Estonia. Darwin is looking forward to welcoming Auve to Harwell and plans to start transporting passengers with the new autonomous shuttle in the coming months. 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.
Read moreless

17 January 2023

Darwin patents its vehicle communications technology

Darwin patents its vehicle communications technology

Darwin was founded with the goal of combining terrestrial and satellite communications. We’ve made huge strides in the intervening time, and we’re pleased to report a new landmark: we’ve been granted a patent for our vehicle communications technology.

Darwin was founded with the goal of combining terrestrial and satellite communications; you can read the story of our founding here. We’ve made huge strides in the intervening time, and we’re pleased to report a new landmark: we’ve been granted a patent for our vehicle communications technology. In a moving vehicle, it can be difficult to remain connected to terrestrial networks. If you’ve ever tried to use the internet while travelling through the countryside in a car or train, you’ll probably know this all too well. It’s common to move into areas that aren’t currently covered by terrestrial networks, or to experience brief interruptions in service as your device switches from one network to another. Darwin’s technology, patented under the name ‘Routing vehicle-to-everything communications’, enables vehicles to stay reliably connected on the move. Our technology monitors the quality of available terrestrial and satellite networks and, when the current network becomes unreliable or unavailable, it seamlessly routes the connection through the best available alternative. By using satellites to supplement terrestrial networks, we enable vehicles to remain connected almost anywhere. In addition, by switching seamlessly between networks, we avoid the interruptions in service that devices might otherwise experience when making network changes. The patent number is GB2588373, and you can view the details of the patent on the Intellectual Property Office’s website. The Certificate of Grant of Patent is also available here. If you’re a vehicle manufacturer or you operate a large fleet or transport service that could benefit from improved connectivity, get in touch and we’d be happy to discuss your needs. 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.
Read moreless

10 January 2023

Darwin annual celebration 2022

Darwin annual celebration 2022

15 December 2022 was a chilly day in Oxford, with temperatures well below freezing. We’re delighted that so many people were willing to brave the weather and join us for a festive dinner at the University of Oxford’s Balliol College.

15 December 2022 was a chilly day in Oxford, with temperatures well below freezing. We’re delighted that so many people were willing to brave the weather and join us for a festive dinner at the University of Oxford’s Balliol College. Every year, Darwin traditionally celebrates all efforts by the team, partners and suppliers with a meal at one of Oxford’s colleges. The University of Oxford plays an important part in Darwin’s successes, and our connection with academia can also be seen in our work with the University of Glasgow, the University of Málaga, Sorbonne University etc. During pre-dinner drinks, we were treated to a talk about the 760-year history of Balliol. Balliol College was founded in 1263, making it one of Oxford’s oldest colleges, although the colleges tend to clash over exactly which one is the oldest. After learning about our host, Darwin’s employees, suppliers and partners sat down for a meal together. It was an evening of warmth in the midst of December, with good food, good conversation and good speeches. To open the meal, Daniela Petrovic of Darwin welcomed and thanked us all. To close it, Antonio Franchi of the European Space Agency reflected on all that ESA and Darwin had achieved so far in partnership, and on the exciting projects that lie ahead. At Darwin, we’re grateful for the hard work of all our employees, contractors, partners and suppliers. We work with ideas and technology, but ultimately every success we’ve had is due to the hard work of individuals. It was a pleasure to bring people together and celebrate what we’ve achieved, and we’re looking forward to reaching greater heights in 2023. 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.
Read moreless

30 December 2022

Happy New Year from Darwin

Happy New Year from Darwin

Happy New Year from Darwin!

2022 has been an exciting year at Darwin. In particular, we’re delighted by the successful trial of the Darwin Autonomous Shuttle in Oxford.

Happy New Year from Darwin! 2022 has been an exciting year at Darwin. In particular, we’re delighted by the successful trial of the Darwin Autonomous Shuttle in Oxford. For the world to benefit from the potential of autonomous vehicles, they need to coexist alongside human drivers, so it’s great to see a self-driving shuttle successfully navigating the busy roads of a city in the UK. Through our work trialling and supporting autonomous vehicles, we hope to bring about a future that’s greener, more efficient and easier to navigate. We’ve also done some work expanding our website to talk more about the services and resources we offer. If you haven’t already seen our 5G and satellite page, or our page on the Darwin Business Innovation Lab, take a look! It’s been a bright and busy year, filled with workshops, conferences, visits, reports and demonstrations. We’ve introduced the Darwin Autonomous Shuttle to a wider audience, we’ve collaborated on cybersecurity with Telefónica Tech, and we’ve released our first children’s book. We hope you’ll join us in 2023 to see what comes next. 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.
Read moreless

14 December 2022

The history and future of the International Space Station

The history and future of the International Space Station

Earlier this year, NASA announced a plan to retire the International Space Station (ISS) and bring it down to Earth in 2031. The ISS is a huge achievement: a space station that has hosted decades of international collaboration and research. In this post, we take a quick look at the history of the ISS, and at its planned retirement.

Earlier this year, NASA announced a plan to retire the International Space Station (ISS) and bring it down to Earth in 2031. The ISS is a huge achievement: a space station that has hosted decades of international collaboration and research. In this post, we take a quick look at the history of the ISS, and at its planned retirement. How was the ISS built? The International Space Station project grew out of NASA’s plans to construct a space station called Freedom, announced in 1984. Largely for budgetary reasons, Freedom was redesigned several times. The ISS is smaller than Freedom was intended to be, but it remains the largest artificial satellite in orbit around Earth, and a stunningly impressive achievement. As the ‘International’ in the name suggests, the International Space Station is a remarkable collaboration between different nations. Five different space agencies across three different continents are involved in the ISS project: the USA’s NASA, Europe’s ESA, Japan’s JAXA, Canada’s CSA and Russia’s Roscosmos. The ISS is about the size of a football field, and you’d be correct to think it’s hard to get anything that large into space. Because of this, the ISS was constructed over time in orbit, rather than being built entirely on Earth and then launched. It’s made of many modules, which were individually built and launched at different times, and were then attached to each other in space. The Zarya module was the first part of the ISS to be launched, on 20 November 1998. The second module, Unity, was launched on 4 December 1998, and astronauts connected it to Zarya two days later: the first connection made in the gradual expansion of the ISS. If you’d like to hear a firsthand account of the connection of Unity to Zarya, episode 73 of the NASA podcast Houston, We Have a Podcast features an interview with Jerry Ross, one of the astronauts personally involved in Unity’s installation. The episode is called ‘The International Space Station Begins: Part 2’, and you can find it here, along with a transcript of the interview. The most recent modules, Nauka and Prichal, were launched as recently as 2021, and there are plans to add more modules this decade. Although the ISS is set to be deorbited in the 2030s, it’s still got plenty to do. It’s actually possible to watch some present-day construction on the ISS. Earlier this month, on 3 December 2022, astronauts Frank Rubio and Josh Cassada installed a new solar array on the space station, and NASA livestreamed the seven-hour operation. You can watch it here on YouTube, or, if you don’t have seven hours to spare, the BBC has condensed a few snippets into a fifty-second video over here. What is the ISS used for? At heart, the ISS is a space laboratory. The experiments conducted there can teach us more about the impact of space radiation, how humans can live in space for long periods, how to create better environments and equipment for astronauts, and how to grow plants in space. Experiments conducted on the ISS can also benefit the people on Earth. The lack of gravity has made it possible to research new methods of delivering cancer treatment, and the ISS SERVIR Environmental Research and Visualization System (ISERV) was used for Earth photography in 2013 and 2014. In addition to telling us more about our environment, these photographs sometimes captured large-scale disasters and were used to assess how responders could help. The ISS is permanently crewed, which means it’s one of only two places outside Earth you’ll always find humans; the other is the Chinese space station Tiangong. The NASA website keeps track of who’s on the ISS; right now, in late 2022, it’s occupied by Frank Rubio, Nicole Mann, Josh Cassada, Koichi Wakata, Sergey Prokopyev, Dmitri Petelin and Anna Kikina. Crew members are cycled out on a regular basis, and a mission to the ISS tends to last about six months. The ISS is an exciting place to work, but being in space for long periods can be psychologically difficult, and we’ve written before about the health impact of living in low gravity. How to see the ISS The ISS is moving around our planet at incredible speed, about 400 kilometres above us. It orbits the Earth fifteen times per day at almost 28,000 kilometres per hour, taking just over an hour and a half on each lap. If the ISS happens to be passing overhead shortly after sunset or before sunrise, when the sky is dark but the station isn’t in Earth’s shadow, you can see it just by looking up at the night sky. It’s easy to spot; it’s very high up, very fast-moving and very bright. The NASA website Spot the Station can tell you when and where the station will be visible. Seeing the inside of the ISS in person is a bit trickier, of course. Google has captured Street View imagery of the space station, though, so you can explore it on Google Earth. Remember to look up; there’s no up or down in space, so the ‘ceiling’ is just another wall and often has equipment on it. The future of the ISS The ISS still has years of scientific work ahead of it; if you want to see it overhead, you’ve still got almost a decade to do so. But, unfortunately, it can’t keep working forever. Because it’s in low Earth orbit, the ISS experiences small amounts of atmospheric drag, which slow it down over time. Unlike higher-orbiting satellites, the ISS has to be boosted on a regular basis to keep it in orbit. This means that it can’t just stay in space once it’s stopped fulfilling its role; if we stopped maintaining it, it would fall to Earth before long. It’s potentially dangerous for a satellite to fall out of the sky without a plan in place. Because of this, NASA intends to bring the ISS down to Earth in a more controlled fashion, rather than letting it fall naturally. Once the last crew has left the space station, operators on Earth will drop the ISS into the atmosphere, aiming for the debris that survives the friction of the fall to land around Point Nemo in the South Pacific Ocean: the point in the ocean that’s furthest from solid ground. Hundreds of satellites have already been crashed at this point, far from any inhabited locations. If you’d like to know more about the deorbiting of the ISS, NASA has an FAQ page about the subject. If you’d like to know more about satellite disposal in general, meanwhile, take a look at our article ‘What happens to old satellites?’ Cover image: JAXA/Koichi Wakata 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.
Read moreless
1 2 3 18

News tags