Combining 6G and autonomous cars

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6G test car
Photo: University of Oulu

6G research at the University of Oulu in Finland is already well advanced. The Empirical Software Engineering in Software, Systems and Services (M3S) research group is one of Europe’s largest research units in the software sector, specializing in, for example, car software. The main goal of the started project, 6G Visible, is to find out the possibilities, the 6G technology provides for autonomous driving and the requirements autonomous driving sets on 6G.

The focus is especially on software, because an autonomous car is a comprehensive software platform, with strict requirements on functionality, reliability, and security. The research partners of this project are the University of Oulu and the Finnish Meteorological Institute. The funding comes from Business Finland’s 6G Bridge program. The project will last until May 2026.

“In the research, our aim is to find out how to combine the various sources of expanded traffic situation information and the most efficient data transfer methods as well as information processing to enable autonomous driving. Software, communication, and computing solutions are critical issues. We also want to find out how the solutions and software architecture can be tested in both virtual and real traffic situations,” said project leader adjunct professor Kari Liukkunen from the M3S research unit.

Researchers focus on enhancing autonomous driving by traffic-related data outside the scope of a vehicle’s own sensors. Extended traffic situation information refers to information that is obtained from elsewhere and combined with the information produced by the car’s own sensors. This refined information is used to assist the driver, remotely control public transport, and finally enable fully autonomous driving.

“The research topic is the development of autonomous driving using our own wireless 5G/6G networks and distributed computing solutions as a basis for the collection of extensive situational information, data analysis and decision-making. The research and its results can be used especially in companies developing software in the Finnish automotive and transport equipment industry in the development of know-how and new business opportunities. As part of other 6G research made at the University of Oulu, this project offers a concrete, intelligent traffic use case for developing and testing software solutions and architectures,” said M3S university lecturer Pertti Seppänen.

“Finnish Meteorological Institute complements the research themes by developing tailored road weather services for autonomous driving, partially based on weather radar-originated Nowcasting short term accurate weather forecasts. Intelligent traffic road weather services test track in Sodankylä and autonomous miniature vehicle of FMI are naturally our essential tools in this work,” said Timo Sukuvaara, senior research scientist of Finnish Meteorological Institute.

The main goals of the 6G Visible project are:

  • Deployment of 6G-era technologies and solutions for autonomous and semi-autonomous driving
  • Use cases supporting Finnish automotive-related software businesses
  • Testing and combining sensors and environments
  • Technologies and solutions for enhanced situational awareness

The research topics are:

  • Smart traffic solutions, sustainability, societal dimensions
  • Sensors, sensor data gathering, data fusion
  • Big data, knowledge creation, AI, decision making
  • System & software architectures related to the problem domain and 6G promises
  • Real-time, off-loading and orchestration related to different data types, decision making and AI solutions
  • Digital twins, simulations, enhanced validation methods
  • Experimentations on the levels of autonomous driving

Jim Cornall is editor of Deeptech Digest and publisher at Ayr Coastal Media. He is an award-winning writer, editor, photographer, broadcaster, designer and author. Contact Jim here.