Ford to research robot-to-robot communication to develop better systems for connected cars

Article by Anita Panait, on August 27, 2013

Ford Motor Co. is collaborating up with researchers at the St. Petersburg Polytechnic University in Russia to study communication between robots at the International Space Station and Earth, with an aim to develop better systems for connected cars. The three-year project between Ford and the university will observe the communication models of robots in space to better understand how vehicles can communicate better with other vehicles, the cloud and with infrastructure elements like buildings and traffic lights.

Researchers see such communication as something that could prevent congestion, cut accidents and deliver messages to drivers. The project is also aimed at learning how to improve emergency vehicle communications. For instance, the research will try to see the potential of using vehicle-to-vehicle communication in case that an emergency message can't be sent from a vehicle to the cloud due to network failure. Researchers believe that an emergency call could pass through other vehicles and pieces of infrastructure until a connection to first responders is found.

Oleg Gusikhin, technical leader in systems analytics for Ford, said in a statement that the research of fallback options and robust message networks is important. He remarked that should a network goes down, alternatives will have to be identified and strengthened to “reliably propagate messages between networks."

The ISS is a good arena for communication research since several technologies used by its robots -- dedicated short-range communication, cellular LTE wireless broadband and mesh networking – are currently being developed or being used in cars. Ford engineers aims to develop an algorithm that could be integrated into connected-car systems that would route messages through the proper network based on its urgency. Researchers will work with robots like the JUSTIN Humanoid, EUROBOT Ground Prototype and NASA Robonaut R2.

“Ford has been committed to the research and development of connected vehicle communications for more than a decade,” said Paul Mascarenas, chief technical officer and vice president, Ford research and innovation. “Our participation in this research can aid in the development of next-generation Ford driver-assist technologies. These technologies will globally benefit Ford customers, other road users and the environment.” [source: Ford]

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