AI and 6G technologies developed for safe interconnected mobility

A multidisciplinary project led by the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (UPC) has begun the development of a network which combines artificial intelligence with 6G technologies to achieve safe interconnected mobility.

Simulation of a busy urban environment with vehicles connected to various communication systems
Simulation of a busy urban environment with vehicles connected to various communication systems - Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya

The European project, ‘AI-Enhanced Fibre-Wireless Optical 6G Network in Support for Connected Mobility’ (6G-EWOC), is one of 27 selected projects in the second call of the Smart Networks and Services in 6G (6GSNS) programme under Horizon Europe.

The project aims to develop the necessary technologies and design a fibre-wireless optical 6G network that, with AI, can support a connected mobility system in areas with heavy traffic or large crowds.

In a statement, project lead and researcher at the UPC’s Advanced Broadband Communications Centre (CCABA), Professor José Antonio Lázaro, said: “In a few years, it will be usual for vehicles to drive autonomously, since the necessary technologies to perceive everything around them are evolving rapidly. However, what’s important is to go one step further and make future vehicles capable of driving autonomously and better than humans.”

To achieve this, the researchers said that it is necessary for the vehicles to not only be able to detect objects such as other vehicles or people around them, but have the ability to ‘know’ at what distance they are from the car, how fast they are travelling and in what direction.

“With all this data, the vehicle’s intelligence will be able to decide the safest route—for people both inside and outside the vehicle—to detect blind spots and to realise difficult to perceive situations that are a common cause of car and pedestrian accidents, such as a vehicle or an object blocking the driver’s view of a pedestrian about to cross,” said Antonio Lázaro.

According to the researchers, the ideal solution would be for autonomous and human-driven vehicles to have a real-time map, with detailed 3D information of streets, traffic jams and all of the vehicles, people, animals and objects found wherever they are driving.

To reach this solution, researchers said ‘connected’ vehicles are needed that can exchange the large volumes of information generated by their sensors, both between the vehicles and with the computing centres, which are responsible for merging everything they detect at each moment through RADAR and LiDAR sensors or through the cameras of the various vehicles in real time.

The 6G-EWOC project aims to develop the networks and technologies needed to manage the amount of data that would be generated by this connected mobility system, by combining AI and 6G.

The researchers said these technologies range from laser-based sensors (such as LiDAR, which can make 3D models of everything around you) to wireless optical communications between vehicles and with elements such as street lights or traffic lights, which can act as an additional 6G antenna.

The project will also rely on high-capacity optical fibres which can transport the large volume of data to the nearest distributed computing centre, and AI techniques used to organise and direct all data traffic to the distributed computing centres.

Other AI tools will merge the data from the vehicles in each area, thus building a piece of the 3D map and integrating it with those generated by the distributed computing elements in other areas.

The researchers said the developed network will make it possible to transmit a detailed, complete and updated map to drivers and vehicles in real time, making driving as safe as possible.

The multidisciplinary project involves 11 other European partners, including companies and technology centres, and has received funding of over €5m provided by the EU and the Swiss government.

More information about the 6G-EWOC project can be found here.