Aviva and Darwin announce the registration of a passenger shuttle designed for use in an autonomous vehicle trial

  • Aviva plc and Darwin Innovation Group announced their five-year strategic partnership in June.
  • Aviva will use the results of trials of this shuttle to inform its approach to the insurance of autonomous vehicles and associated technologies.
  • On 2 September 2021, the shuttle will be introduced to the public at Aviva’s London headquarters.

Aviva and Darwin have announced a milestone in their five-year strategic partnership with the registration of a passenger shuttle for use in autonomous vehicle trials.

The shuttle, created by Navya, will be used to demonstrate the potential of self-driving cars and gather information about their operation. Aviva will use data from these trials to evolve its current motor insurance products, enabling it to provide comprehensive cover for autonomous vehicles and associated technologies as they begin to operate on UK roads.

From 11am to 4pm on 2 September 2021 (today), Aviva and Darwin are holding a public event to introduce the shuttle outside St Helen’s, Aviva’s head office in the City of London. The shuttle won’t be in operation at the event, but members of the public will have the opportunity to see the vehicle.

Darwin began conducting activities involving self-driving technology about two years ago, with the support of the UK Space Agency and the European Space Agency.

Darwin is also involved in the O2–Darwin SatCom Lab, a collaboration between Darwin and O2 at Harwell Science and Innovation Campus, where Darwin and other organisations can test and refine self-driving technology. Darwin is currently working to enable reliable connectivity on the move by combining terrestrial and satellite communications, with the aid of the European Space Agency, mobile provider O2 and satellite operator HISPASAT.

Nick Amin, Chief Operating Officer at Aviva, said: “It’s exciting to bring this autonomous vehicle to our London headquarters so that people can witness the future of mobility in the making. There is no better place to unveil the vehicle than at Aviva with its long heritage in motor insurance, dating back to the very earliest vehicles.

“This is a great example of Aviva serving as an enabler – in this case, for important advancements in mobility, by providing insurance for the shuttle to be used on the UK’s roads. The data from this trial will help Aviva to better understand the future of mobility and shape our motor insurance policies for the vehicles of the future. I can’t think of a better demonstration of our core purpose, ‘with you today for a better tomorrow’.”

Sophia Ward, Operations Manager at Darwin, said: “We are delighted to have registered this purpose-built connected autonomous shuttle for use on publicly accessible roads at Harwell Science and Innovation Campus in Oxfordshire. This is a significant regulatory milestone on the road to making CAV mobility a reality, and an exciting step on our innovative journey to realising the potential of ubiquitous communications. This latest achievement follows on from our successful trial of a connected mobile testing vehicle in Cornwall, supported by our partners and sponsors O2, HISPASAT and the European Space Agency, without whom this wouldn’t have been possible. We now look forward to announcing future trials involving this exciting new technology soon.”

Sergio Budkin, Director of Market Development at Virgin Media O2, said: “We are very excited to see this self-driving technology, powered by our 5G network and HISPASAT’s satellite communication, in action. We are proud to support Darwin R&D in developing this technology and we are confident that this innovation is set to add value to a number of different business sectors, public services and the general public.”

Pierre Lahutte, CEO of Navya, said: “At Navya, we have been convinced for many years that autonomous vehicles have tremendous potential to provide a sustainable and efficient solution for passengers’ transportation. This partnership enables Navya to strengthen its technology and demonstrate the benefit that autonomous transport can bring in complex environments. We look forward to working together and thank our partners for their confidence.”

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