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‘Fog technology’, designed by researchers in the Faculty of Engineering, is an innovative computing infrastructure that could be fundamental in allowing CAVs to be safer and more efficient.

As the world prepares for future transportation systems the University of Bristol’s CSN group have been developing CAV technologies to unlock societal benefits.

The technology designed by the University is detailed in the paper titled ‘Agile Data Offloading over Novel Fog Computing Infrastructure for CAVs’ which won an award at the IEEE Vehicular Technology Conference (VTC), held in Kuala Lumpur in May 2019.  VTC is the flagship conference of the IEEE Vehicular Technology Society and attracts the world’s top researches and industrialists in the fields of wireless networks, 5G, automotive industry.  The paper is a collaboration between the University of Bristol and Atkins and was awarded the coveted ‘Best Conference Paper Award’.

The award-winning paper from academics in the The Communication Systems & Networks (CSN) Group from the University of Bristol’s Smart Internet Lab at the School of Computer Science, focuses on the  new paradigm of the ‘Internet of Vehicles’ and how the required infrastructure  will transform the system from a swarm of autonomous cars that merely tolerate each other to an orchestrated transportation machine.

Automated cars are already being tested on roads around the world and the current generation of CAVs are designed to operate in a completely autonomous mode. This mode requires them to obey highway code, drive safely and deliver passengers at a speed that is ideally not much slower than human-driven car would do. However, the much-heralded potentials of quicker, safer and more predictable transportation can only materialise when the cars start cooperating meaningfully with one another and also with road infrastructure.

The paper explores how the new world of collaborative CAVs will necessitate the development of new road infrastructure, with existing assets such as traffic lights and road signage being augmented (or even replaced) with distributed compute and Digital network infrastructures.

The CSN group at the University of Bristol is the main cyber-physical infrastructure architect within the FLOURISH project consortium.  The FLOURISH project is a partnership that develops and prototypes such new Cyber-physical infrastructures for future automated vehicles.

The group has developed the novel Fog Compute framework. The idea behind the Fog framework is that it augments cloud computing with additional resources which are located in the proximity of CAVs. This reduces the latency of communication between vehicles and the infrastructure and facilitates additional safety critical services. The Fog resources are also used to enable sophisticated trust certificates compression, network coding and CAV data offloading technologies.

Dr Andrea Tassi, lead author of the paper said: “The cooperation between self-driving vehicles will require the exchange of vast amounts of data with the road-side infrastructure. In our paper, we present a way of decoupling the relay of sensor data to and from Connected and Autonomous Vehicles, with the resource-intensive task of processing them.

Dr Ioannis Mavromatis added: “We do so by employing a network of Fog Compute nodes and designing an agile and reliable data-offloading mechanism. Building upon our real-world, large-scale urban trials, we validated the effectiveness and feasibility of our proposal”,

Professor Robert Piechocki, Project Lead, said “I am absolutely delighted for our team to receive this very prestigious award. This is a culmination of many years of research and hard work of a large number of people. It was a joy and privilege to take these concepts from initial sketches and derivations on whiteboards to the actual novel hardware and software deployed and tested on our Clifton campus. It is delightful to know that our efforts are appreciated by the wider scientific community.”

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