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Ford studying space-based robot telematics with St. Petersburg Polytechnic to improve connected vehicle communication

Ford has begun a three-year three-year research partnership with the telematics department of St. Petersburg Polytechnic University in Russia in its association with that country’s space industry. The goal of Ford’s relationship with the university is to analyze space-based robotic communications systems, with potential for developing vehicle mesh networks to aid in connected vehicle communications applications.

Telematics—the long-distance transmission of digital information—developed for use on space stations provide excellent potential for improving the reliability of future vehicle-to-cloud (V2C), vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I), vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) and other forms of communication (V2X), Ford suggests.

The communications blend multiple networking technologies including dedicated short-range communication (DSRC), cellular LTE wireless broadband and mesh networking to ensure robust and reliable connectivity for optimum signal strength for critical messages.

Using the knowledge accrued from analyzing the space robots, Ford engineers could then develop an algorithm that is integrated into the V2X system resulting in a message that would route through the appropriate network depending on the level of its importance.

An emergency message, for example, may be communicated through the faster mesh network, whereas an entertainment-related message would route through a vehicle-to-infrastructure application, an embedded device or a brought-in device network.

As one example of the work with St. Petersburg Polytechnic University, Ford is analyzing how emergency messages should be sent to ensure delivery if network failures were to occur, identifying the systems and methods that provide redundancy in case of primary delivery failure.

For example, if an accident were to cause V2C to be broken, a vehicle may still have access to a V2V communications network. An emergency signal message could potentially be sent through V2V to a vehicle nearby, and then between vehicles and infrastructures until it reached EMS.

The research of fallback options and robust message networks is important. If one network is down, alternatives need to be identified and strengthened to reliably propagate messages between networks.

We are analyzing the data to research which networks are the most robust and reliable for certain types of messages, as well as fallback options if networks were to fail in a particular scenario. In a crash, for example, a vehicle could have the option to communicate an emergency though a DSRC, LTE or a mesh network based on the type of signal, speed and robustness required to reach emergency responders as quickly as possible.

—Dr. Oleg Gusikhin, technical leader in systems analytics for Ford

The specific space robots leveraged for Ford’s telematics analysis include the Justin Humanoid, EUROBOT Ground Prototype and NASA Robonaut R2.

  • The Mobile Humanoid Justin features a mobile platform allowing the long-range autonomous operation of the system. The individually movable, spring born wheels match the special requirements of the upper body during manipulation tasks. PMD sensors and cameras allow the 3D reconstruction of the robot’s environment and therefore enable Justin to perform given tasks autonomously.

  • The EUROBOT Ground Prototype is a robotic assistant designed to move around and work on a planet’s surface either autonomously or in cooperation with astronauts. Eurobot can be controlled from Earth or from a station located, for example, on the International Space Station.

  • NASA Robonaut R2 serves as an extra set of hands for crew members on the International Space Station. Astronauts can engage in tele-robotic operations while on orbit, with R2 literally acting as their eyes and hands through the use of special virtual reality gear onboard the station.

(A hat-tip to Dr. Tatiana Ksenevich, editor in chief, “Russian engineer” (“Русский инженер-транспортник”).



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