If vehicles increasingly act without any active contribution by the driver – in other words, if they drive autonomously – the safety of all road users can be increased. For autonomous driving, sophisticated sensor technology, dependable software, and secure networks are therefore of crucial importance.

Smart Mobility

Motivation

Networking among vehicles and their interconnection with the environment allow new services and functions to be realized that have a positive impact on economical operation and resource efficiency, safety, reliability, or productivity (in the case of commercial vehicles).

Below, some scenarios are sketched in which networked embedded systems are making a major contribution to these developments with regard to future so-called cyber-physical systems (CPS).

Scenarios

Traffic Safety

Networking among vehicles and their interconnection with the environment make it possible to obtain a detailed and far-reaching image of the surrounding area. Potential dangers can thus be identified early or can be reported to following traffic, if necessary. If a vehicle crosses a bridge and notices via its ESP sensors that the road is slippery, it can transmit a corresponding alert to other road users. The recipients of such a message then check whether it is relevant for their own route and alert the driver, if necessary. The driver is thus prepared for the upcoming situation and can adjust the speed on time.

Alternatively, such a warning about a dangerous traffic situation could also be relayed by the vehicle to the responsible road maintenance depot, which records the information and makes it available to other road users via a Cloud service. The service subscribers automatically receive an alert when they approach the location. In addition, the road maintenance depot’s winter service vehicle is automatically notified to change its route in order to deal with the dangerous situation.

Traffic jams arising at short notice can also be detected and reported automatically by analyzing speed and braking behavior, particularly in the communication among several vehicles. Acceleration sensors in the vehicles can also detect accidents and report them automatically, including alerting emergency services and the police. Corresponding emergency call systems based on Wi-Fi are already available in some cars, but are limited to the function of reporting such events to emergency services and are currently unable to alert vehicles behind them or request support. An impending vehicle malfunction can also be indicated to the driver with the help of warning signals, but it can also be prevented directly by automatically identifying a nearby service garage that has free capacities and adjusting the planned route and the driving style on the way to the garage accordingly. The garage is automatically informed about the vehicle’s estimated time of arrival and about the symptoms. Depending on how serious the matter is, a replacement vehicle can also be ordered directly from a rental company and the trip can be continued with as little delay and impediment for the rest of the traffic as possible.

Resource Efficiency

The information exchanged between vehicles can furthermore be used for predictive and cooperative operation strategies aimed at reducing energy consumption as well as exhaust, noise, and light emissions. A more detailed knowledge of the traffic light phases in the area of a vehicle’s position and the planned route can thus be balanced such that the driver can be informed about the optimal speed that will allow him to take advantage of phased traffic lights. If several alternative routes are available, the expected traffic light phases as well as real-time traffic information can also be included in route planning. Coordinated acceleration and braking phases between vehicles following each other can reduce the emissions and fuel consumption of the individual vehicles. If there is a lot of traffic, they can also reduce the likelihood of traffic jams, increase the flow of traffic, and thus locally improve energy efficiency.

Economy

Individual mobility in urban agglomerations is becoming an ever greater challenge since the rising numbers of road users are pushing the existing infrastructure to its limits. Regional public transport can be a good alternative, but is not flexible enough yet. Integrated services in a completely interconnected world make it possible to offer individually customized mobility concepts and to bring together people who are traveling the same sections of a trip. An example: users can use their smartphones to access a specific Cloud service. Here they can select their destination and then a mobility service can be planned and provided based upon available modes of transport and optimization criteria. The trip can start in a classical manner by taking the bus to the nearest train station. However, this bus is running according to a needs-based schedule on an individually created route, i.e., it adapts to the concrete needs while also taking into account time constraints such as the departure times of the passengers’ connecting trains. Upon arrival at the train station, the passenger can transfer to the train without getting a ticket. Since the destination may be in a rural area with little individual traffic, a rental car is ordered, which is then activated directly via smartphone and can also be paid for in this manner. Since two other travelers on the train have similar destinations, they share the rental car during the first section of their trip, which saves costs and energy.

Productivity

A biogas plant is to be supplied with chopped corn. Due to the high harvest yield of the forage harvester used and the distance of up to 25 km between the fields, ten transport rigs are needed for transporting the harvest. All vehicles are connected with each other via a biomass harvest logistics service, which coordinates the operational planning and guides the vehicles to-the-minute to the position where the next job is to be expected. As a result of this optimization, two transport rigs can be saved. In addition, the optimized navigation helps to reduce the total number of kilometers driven by five percent.

Logistics

Flexibility and short delivery times are important requirements for a logistics service provider. With the help of networked logistics services, a company can identify a suitable means of transport and the corresponding route within a few seconds: In the background, an unnoticed auction has taken place between various service providers that applied for the job on the basis of the requested transport service. For the truck driver, hardly anything changes: The next destination and the route are always displayed in the cockpit and the driver can focus on doing his job.

Goals and Research Questions

If several communication partners want to communicate with each other directly, i.e., without any infrastructure, this is called an ad-hoc network. If this communication takes place via Wi-Fi and the number of participants is large – such as in the case of vehicles on a busy street –, then both the Wi-Fi processes and the network protocols used are of crucial importance to ensure robust, reliable, and efficient transmission. Here processes must be developed that are optimized especially for the limited resources of embedded systems and the data to be transmitted. This calls for adapted services and components to be developed, resp. optimized, on all transmission layers, taking into account both the limited network resources and the wide range of requirements from various applications using, among other things, different types of data. Such services and components must be dynamically configurable in order to be able to fulfill defined criteria depending on the relevance or criticality of the message to be transmitted, such as top prioritization of individual messages, maximal latency, guaranteed delivery, or minimum delivery rate. If there are no exclusive transmission channels for high-priority data, quality-of-service processes must be used to ensure that the data are transmitted with priority according to their importance, if necessary via heterogeneous networks, and that they are delivered securely. Appropriate simulation environments and platforms for tests in real environments are needed for the evaluation of the concepts and algorithms.

Integrated design technologies are needed for the systematic, high-quality development of mobility services that connect and coordinate vehicles and their environment partly in real time. These must consider the processes mentioned above and must coordinate the various disciplines involved in the development. In particular, the software for implementing the connection and coordination among the vehicles must interact optimally with their control algorithms. In addition, the design technologies must help to provide evidence that the involved systems interact correctly and safely.

When smart traffic systems communicate, event reports or aggregated sensor data from a large number of participants are made available, but only a small portion of them are useful. Here, publish-subscribe mechanisms must be developed, e.g., in the context of a Service-oriented Architecture (SOA), which in combination with robust transmission processes will ensure reliable transmission of important data even in wireless networks that are failure-prone by nature.

Another goal of the Embedded Systems Alliance is to develop solutions for ensuring security for the scenarios described above, i.e., protection from attacks. Processes are being developed for the secure identification and authentication of vehicles, smartphones, resp. their users, and charging stations. These processes are used, for example, as a basis for secure payments. Privacy aspects are also taken into account. For example: vehicles can use pseudonyms to communicate with other vehicles in order to prevent movement profiles being created. In order to protect the embedded systems themselves against manipulation, hardware-software modules (HSMs) customized to the respective requirements are being developed that offer secure storage areas for cryptographic keys and a secure execution environment for cryptographic operations. Based on the HSMs, processes are being developed that will enable proving the systems’ trustworthiness. Furthermore, processes for safeguarding communication are under development; these offer detection of and protection against interception, data manipulation, injection of wrong data, etc. Here, the focus is especially on particularly efficient processes that are adapted to the limited resources of embedded systems while making the best possible use of the wireless processes employed.