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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/P025862/1
Title: Doing More with Less Wiring: Mission-Critical and Intelligent Communication Protocols for Future Vehicles Using Power Lines
Principal Investigator: Sheng, Dr Z
Other Investigators:
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
HW Communcations NXP Semiconductors UK Limited Toyota
Department: Sch of Engineering and Informatics
Organisation: University of Sussex
Scheme: First Grant - Revised 2009
Starts: 01 May 2017 Ends: 30 September 2018 Value (£): 100,973
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Networks & Distributed Systems
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Communications Transport Systems and Vehicles
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
02 Mar 2017 EPSRC ICT Prioritisation Panel March 2017 Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
With the emerging automated tasks in vehicle domain, the development of in-vehicle communications is increasingly important and subjected to new applications. Although both wired and wireless communications have been largely used for supporting diverse applications, most of in-vehicle applications with mission-critical nature, such as brake and engine controls, still prefer dedicated wired networks for reliable and secure transmission.

One of the key challenges for data wiring is to facilitate the interconnectivity of increasing devices, e.g., sensors and electronic control units (ECU), effectively creating an in-vehicle network with low response latency, improved reliability and less complexity. The space requirement, weight, and installation costs for these wires can become significant, especially in future vehicles, which are highly sophisticated electronic systems.

Given that vehicle components, sensors and ECUs are already connected to power wires, we apply vehicle power lines, which have recently been utilized for in-vehicle communications at the physical layer, to in-vehicle networks in this proposal. Taking mass air flow sensor as an example, it has one power wire and two signal wires, it will be efficient to use power line communications to replace the current signal wires, so 66% of wiring can be reduced. The advancement of vehicular power line communications (VPLC) can provide a very low complexity and free platform for in-vehicle networks, which is ideal for the increasing demand of applications in particular with future vehicles. However, the emerging VPLC is constrained by lack of protocol support, which pose significant challenges to deploy it in practise and ensure mission-critical communications. The following example illustrates the motivation of this proposal.

An example for the motivation: A future vehicle is equipped with advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) which can be connected with multiple sensors and ECUs to provide safety monitoring and control. An important demand of this scenario is that the systems, viewed as sources, should have stable connections with all ECUs, or network destinations. And it is also important that such in-vehicle networks must guarantee ultra-low latency for emerging control services since any seconds of delay may cause fatal accident. Therefore, an effective protocol design is crucial for VPLC to support future applications with mission-critical and high-bandwidth demands.

The aim of the project is to improve the reliability of the network and guarantee stringent mission-critical requirements of in-vehicle applications in vehicular power line communications. We will partner with automotive specialists and construct the project to develop innovative and intelligent in-vehicle communication protocols. The solution this proposal is seeking is two fold. One is to pursue new design of intelligent access and congestion control solutions by fully exploring the practical and theoretical analysis, dynamic nature of channels/traffic patterns and self-learning techniques, which provides the theoretic aspect of the proposal. Then, the second step is from the practical aspect, where the proposed power line method shall be able to coexist and cooperate with existing state-of-the-art solutions, and its performance will be validated by practical in-vehicle traffic data. Obviously the two are inseparable not just because the ultimate goal of reliable communication for in-vehicle networks is only possible with the accomplishment of the both two parts, but also because the interaction between the two parts is the key for effective system design.

Key Findings
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Organisation Website: http://www.sussex.ac.uk