CEA-Leti’s Vehicle-to-Everything Pilots Lead to New R & D

Published: December 14, 2023

CEA-Leti has launched a new initiative to work with the AGVs, as well as vehicles, to boost environmental awareness for drivers or operators with IoT connectivity.

French electronics and IT research institute CEA-Leti has expanded a research and development (R&D) initiative related to wireless technology-based, vehicle automation and cooperation. While first focused specifically on vehicular intelligence, the institute now plans to investigate applications such as drone- and factory robot-management.

The latest plans come on the heels of a set of CEA-Leti’s pilots that found wireless technology improves vehicle intelligence to help prevent accidents and improve traffic conditions, according to institute officials.

Some of the pilots—including field trials and large-scale simulations—were part of EU H2020, a funding program from the EU Commission that completed in 2020, while the projects continued into this year.  Other pilots were carried out as bilateral projects with CEA-Leti’s industrial partners.

Extracting Meaning from Sensors

In this context, CEA-Leti scientists identified and launched multiple pilots into vehicle-to-everything (V2X) communication technologies and standards, says Benoit Denis, CEA-Leti’s research scientist on radio localization, and project manager. The scientists’ focus was on the impact of V2X performance for critical safety-oriented services.

Additionally, the pilots examined data management to disseminate and fuse meaningful information from sensors, to reduce risk of collisions, identify problems ahead, improve navigation and even predict traffic bottlenecks.

The team has now set its sights on more V2X studies for companies in the automotive and related industries to further investigate adoption of V2X technology. They plan to expand their research into industrial solutions in factories with a focus on automatic guided vehicles (AGVs).

Ad Hoc or Cellular Communication

Vehicle-based connectivity typically relies on long-range Vehicle-to-Network (V2N) communications using cellular 5G-NR technology, or on short-range vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) or vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) ad hoc communications.

These use C-V2X sidelink technology or dedicated short range communications (DSRC) based on 802.11p or 802.11 b/d IEEE standards, which operate over the unlicensed 5.9 GHz band.

With the pilots, CEA-Leti investigated different infrastructure strategies, including dedicated wireless transmitting roadside units, 5G base stations to communicate data to servers, and MEC (edge computing) servers to manage data onsite.

Growing Need for Visibility

While V2X communication technologies and protocols are already in use, by driven as well as autonomous vehicles, Denis points out that the growing use of automation on and off roads creates a variety of complex mobile operating scenarios that require greater physical perception.

“The ultimate goal of our ongoing work is to help our partners in the automotive and related industries understand and adopt the benefits of V2X cooperative communications for improved safety, efficiency and automation performance,” says Denis.

Leveraging Existing Sensors in Cars

Modern cars already come with a vast array of sensors including cameras, lidar, radar, and GPS.  The pilots took advantage of those sensors as well as deploying some dedicated roadside units.

“Our effort was to learn how to optimally combine all this information to come up with a birds eye view of a scene,” said Denis.

The researchers then designed fusion algorithms to gain intelligence from the multiple sources to create meaningful information with standardized message formats, that would be affordable to users.

Protecting Pedestrians

One simulation related to identifying when a pedestrian was in the roadway, or when other safety issues were detected. Known as SAFE-UP, the program tracked urban and non-urban environments by enabling cars to share data about conditions ahead, such as the presence of a person crossing the street at an intersection ahead.

The data could be sent to the cloud and shared with other vehicles or the system could transmit data from one vehicle to another. In another example, when one car in the front of a fleet of cars detected a change in conditions, that data was shared wirelessly to the nearest car behind it. Transmission could then hop to vehicles further behind on the road.

Another data point were construction signs that indicated a lane would be closed ahead, or if a bicycle entered the roadway. The information could be viewed in an app, or on the vehicle’s advanced driver assistance system (ADAS).

“The idea is to ensure both low latency and seamless continuity regardless of the operating conditions for such let’s say critical services,” says Denis.

Additionally, the testing included roadside technology such as cameras with embedded artificial intelligence, capable of recognizing and differentiating a pedestrian from another object.

Pilot Results See Benefits

Another outcome of the pilots, so far, has been to determine the best connectivity architecture and deployment, depending on the application requirements based on availability and latency.

“The simulations clearly demonstrated the advantages and benefits of V2X cooperation in a variety of contexts and scenarios—in comparison with standalone onboard systems —notably for improved safety,” says Denis. “These results allowed us to identify some limitations of the considered technologies, as well as main technical or scientific challenges ahead.”

In the past year there has been a renewed effort from automakers to accelerate the deployment of V2X connectivity in their ADAS systems (as well as the harmonization of its possible usages and applications), so progress is underway, Denis noted.

Challenges Ahead

CEA-Leti finds that V2X technology still faces obstacles ahead to be used universally. These obstacles include the lack of full technology penetration in all vehicles as one of the keys for effective cooperation between vehicles is to have a large number of vehicles equipped with V2X connectivity modules, associated with the vehicle’s ADAS.

“If the technology’s penetration rate [in vehicles] is too low, the benefits of cooperative approaches will be limited. Likewise, the presence of a dense assisting infrastructure, particularly in urban areas, would also help to improve safety and traffic flow,” says Denis.

However, most traffic areas still lack that infrastructure. The multiple radio access technologies such as IEEE 802.11p and longer-range for V2N such as cellular 5G also means that systems need to be built in which different technologies can coexist.

Additionally, critical and non-critical services will have to find a way to share networks or data according to their needs, which could include everything from air pollution maps to vehicular crowd sensing.

“The actual capacity offered by V2X networks versus the demand from connected vehicles is still very hard to predict,” says Denis.

Beyond Vehicles to Industrial Settings

CEA-Leti’s research focus goes beyond the vehicular domain as well.

Researchers have begun planning or implementing experiments in various environments such as factories. That could mean testing solutions that leverage a single wireless network to capture and manage data from moving assets, people and supplies, as well as sensor detecting conditions at the facility.

“We are in close contact with industrial players,” Denis says.

And for future vehicle communication solution, the R&D company is collecting collaborative project proposals with mixed consortia involving automotive technology companies, academia, and service providers.

Key Takeaways:
  • CEA-Leti is continuing research of V2X networks, designing advanced data fusion schemes to validate the use of wireless technology to improve road safety and traffic.
  • The Proof-of-Concepts are ongoing for vehicular data and may also be conducted in factories for capture of data to improve efficiency and safety on production sites.