THE 'UK's first commercial driverless car lab' has opened in Oxfordshire.

Driverless cars that use 5G and satellite technology to stay connected will be trialled at the centre in Harwell.

Telecomms giant O2 is launching what it calls the 'UK's first commercial driverless car lab' – the Darwin SatCom Lab – with Government backing today.

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The company says it aims to tackle some of the technical challenges faced by driverless cars by providing stronger, faster and more reliable data signals using 5G.

However, the cars will still use satellite technology to allow the vehicles to operate in areas that have low signal.

The firm hopes using 5G will help reduce the time it takes for information to be sent and received and aims to slash the current 20 milliseconds of lag to one millisecond – the equivalent of a camera flash.

Science Minister Amanda Solloway said: “The UK’s space sector is applying pioneering technologies such as satellite and 5G to essential products and services that will help to transform our everyday lives.

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“I am incredibly excited that O2’s first-of-its-kind driverless car lab will enable our most innovative businesses to test these technologies and bring us another step closer to putting self-driving vehicles safely on our roads.”

At the Harwell lab, O2 has already converted two Renault TWIZY electric cars into driverless cars.

The ‘Connected Autonomous Vehicles’ or CAVs are fitted with sensors which allow them to be controlled from the lab and driven around the campus.