British multinational insurance company Aviva has entered a five-year strategic partnership with Darwin Innovation Group, with an initial focus on trialling an autonomous vehicle (AV).

Darwin is trialling an autonomous shuttle developed by French AV company Navya at the Harwell Science and Innovation Campus in Oxfordshire.

Controlled by 5G and satellite connectivity, the shuttle will pick passengers up, transport them around the campus and drop them off at their destination without a steering wheel or the involvement of a human driver.

The electric shuttles will operate 24/7 and allow data to be captured in different light and weather conditions. The data will be transmitted via 5G and satellite channels.

Darwin plans to add a second shuttle in the second year of operation.

Equipped with sensors, the shuttles will be able to communicate with each other and ensure that they are not obstructing each other’s path while moving around the campus.

Although AVs offer the potential to improve road safety and revolutionise the UK’s mobility system, these vehicles also come with risks and vehicle uses that insurers will have to assess when underwriting them.

Aviva will use the data to build its first comprehensive insurance model for this type of vehicle, which will evolve as the trial progresses.

Aviva chief operating officer Nick Amin said: “With this trial, we’re able to be there right from the start of the real-life application of AVs operating on public roads.

“This will change not only our relationship with these vehicles but, more fundamentally, how we insure them. AVs 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.”

The trial with Aviva builds on the launch of the Darwin SatCom Lab by O2 and Darwin Innovation Group, which took place last October at the Harwell Science and Innovation Campus.

This lab allows companies such as Aviva to explore next-generation connectivity solutions for connected vehicles and AVs using both 5G and satellite communications.