Autonomous shuttle trial launches at Harwell Campus

Harwell Autonomous shuttle[2]

Harwell Campus will soon have a new addition as Harwell Based, Darwin Innovation Group together with Aviva will be trialling an autonomous shuttle.

Created by France based Navya, the vehicle, controlled by 5G and satellite connectivity, will be able to pick passengers up, transport them around the campus and drop them off at their destination, all without the involvement of a human driver. A second shuttle is expected to be added in the second year of operation.

The electric shuttles will operate 24/7, which will allow the capture of data in different light and weather conditions and will transmit this data via 5G and satellite channels. The vehicles will have a high level of automation – level 4 autonomy, according to SAE International’s levels of driving automation – and they do not have a steering wheel.

Darwin has carefully mapped out the campus and provided the shuttles with all the information they will need to navigate the area. The shuttles will be able to communicate with each other, and will be well equipped with sensors, so they can navigate without obstructing each other and can react to any unexpected obstacles.

Autonomous vehicles offer the potential to dramatically improve road safety and revolutionise the UK’s mobility system.  However, as the technology within vehicles evolves and we draw closer to having fully autonomous vehicles on our roads, there will be new risks and vehicle uses that insurers will have to assess when underwriting these vehicles.

HarwellBeing involved in the testing and development phases of this trial means Aviva is well placed to react to the increasing automation of vehicles on UK roads. The trial will showcase the application of connected autonomous vehicles and allow Aviva to build its first comprehensive insurance model for this type of vehicle, which will evolve as the trial progresses.

The trial with Aviva builds on the October 2020 launch by O2 and Darwin Innovation Group of the Darwin SatCom Lab, the UK’s first commercial laboratory for 5G and satellite communications, situated at the Harwell Science and Innovation Campus. The laboratory enables companies like Aviva to explore next-generation connectivity solutions for connected and autonomous vehicles using both 5G and satellite communications.

Nick Amin, Chief Operating Officer at Aviva, said: “With this trial, we’re able to be there right from the start of the real-life application of autonomous vehicles operating on public roads, which will change not only our relationship with these vehicles but, more fundamentally, how we insure them. Autonomous vehicles could change the face of motor insurance within a decade. Through having access to the data from this trial, we can understand today the kinds of things we’ll have to consider in the future to keep passengers, pedestrians and all other road users safe when driverless technology hits public roads.”

Tom Pitney, Motor Underwriter at Aviva, said: “I’m thrilled to be involved in this trial, which will be the first of its kind in the UK. The vehicles we insure are constantly evolving and fully autonomous vehicles are on their way to our roads. This will result in a huge shift in the way we underwrite and price for these risks. Being involved at the outset enables us to better understand the future of mobility and ensure that we have a product ready to insure the vehicles of the future. Most importantly, this demonstrates our core purpose of ‘with you today for a better tomorrow’.”

Daniela Petrovic, Delivery Director at Darwin, said: “For any emergent market to be a success, we need to create an ecosystem of companies who share a vision for innovation and are willing to expand their core competency into something new. Emergent markets are usually found at the intersection of industries, and that is why, for the CAV ecosystem to work, we must gather actors from multiple industries to work together. The Darwin team are delighted to have Aviva as a partner in this ecosystem, jointly creating new insurance models and enabling CAVs to become mainstream in the UK market.”

Sergio Budkin, Director of Business Products at O2, said: “It’s encouraging to see the CAV ecosystem grow through this strategic partnership between Darwin Innovation Group and Aviva. We’re also delighted to see companies putting theory into practice by launching trials using CAVs and building upon the work O2 kicked off in October last year through the launch of the Darwin SatCom Lab, which offers companies access to O2-customised autonomous vehicles in order to test proofs of concept.”