Section: Research Program
Automated driving, intelligent vehicular networks, and safety
Participant : Gérard Le Lann.
Intelligent vehicular networks (IVNs) are one constituent of ITS. IVNs encompass “clusters”, platoons and vehicular ad-hoc networks comprising automated and cooperative vehicles. A basic principle that underlies our work is minimal reliance on road-side infrastructures for solving those open problems arising with IVNs. For example, V2V communications only are considered. Trivially, if one can solve a problem considering V2V communications only, then is solved with the help of V2I communications, whereas the converse is not true. Moreover, safety in the course of risk-prone maneuvers is our central concern. Since safety-critical (SC) scenarios may develop anytime anywhere, it is impossible to assume that there is always a road-side unit in the vicinity of those vehicles involved in a hazardous situation.
Cohorts and groups – Novel constructs for safe IVNs
The automated driving function rests on two radically different sets of solutions, one set encompassing signal processing and robotics (SPR), the other one encompassing vehicular communications and networking (VCN). In addition to being used for backing a failing SPR solution, VCN solutions have been originally proposed for “augmenting” the capabilities offered by SPR solutions, which are line-of-sight technologies, i.e. limited by obstacles. Since V2V omni-directional radio communications that are being standardized (IEEE 802.11p / WAVE) have ranges in the order of 250 m, it is interesting to prefix risk-prone maneuvers with the exchange of SC-messages. Roles being assigned prior to initiating physical maneuvers, the SPR solutions are invoked under favorable conditions, safer than when vehicles have not agreed on “what to do” ahead of time.
VCN solutions shall belong to two categories: V2V omni-directional (360) communications and unidirectional communications, implemented out of very-short range antennas of very small beam-width. This has led to the concept of neighbor-to-neighbor (N2N) communications, whereby vehicles following each other on a given lane can exchange periodic beacons and event-driven messages.
Vehicle motions on roads and highways obey two different regimes. First, stationary regimes, where inter-vehicular spacing, acceleration and deceleration rates (among other parameters), match specified bounds. This, combined with N2N communications, has led to the concept of cohorts, where safety is not at stake provided that no violation of bounds occurs. Second, transitory regimes, where some of these bounds are violated (e.g., sudden braking – the “brick wall” paradigm), or where vehicles undertake risk-prone maneuvers such as lane changes, resulting into SC scenarios. Reasoning about SC scenarios has led to the concept of groups. Cohorts and groups have been introduced in  .
Cohorts, N2N communications, and safety in the presence of telemetry failures
In  we show how periodic N2N beaconing serves to withstand failures of directional telemetry devices. Worst-case bounds on safe inter-vehicular spacing are established analytically (simulations cannot be used for establishing worst-case bounds). A result of practical interest is the ability to answer the following question: “vehicles move at high speed in a cohort formation; if in a platoon formation, spacing would be in the order of 3 m; what is the additional safe spacing in a cohort?” With a N2N beaconing period in the range of 100-200 ms, the additional spacing is much less than 1 m. Failure of a N2N communication link translates into a cohort split, one of the vehicles impaired becoming the tail of a cohort, and its (impaired) follower becoming the head of a newly formed cohort. The number of vehicles in a cohort has an upper bound, and the inter-cohort spacing has a lower bound.
Groups, cohorts, and fast reliable V2V Xcasting in the presence of message losses
Demonstrating safety involves establishing strict timeliness (“real-time”) properties under worst-case conditions (traffic density, failure rates, radio interference ranges). As regards V2V message passing, this requirement translates into two major problems:
Groups and cohorts have proved to be essential constructs for devising a solution for problem TBD. Vehicles involved in a SC scenario form a group where a 3-way handshake is unfolded so as to reach an agreement regarding roles and adjusted motions. A 3-way handshake consists in 3 rounds of V2V Xcasting of SC messages, round 1 being a Geocast, round 2 being a Convergecast, and round 3 being a Multicast. Worst-case time bound for completing a 3-way handshake successfully is in the order of 200 ms, under worst-case conditions. It is well known that message losses are the dominant cause of failures in mobile wireless networks, which raises the following problem with the Xcasting of SC messages. If acknowledgments are not used, it is impossible to predict probabilities for successful deliveries, which is antagonistic with demonstrating safety. Asking for acknowledgments is a non solution. Firstly, by definition, vehicles that are to be reached by a Geocast are unknown to a sender. How can a sender know which acknowledgments to wait for? Secondly, repeating a SC message that has been lost on a radio channel does not necessarily increases chances of successful delivery. Indeed, radio interferences (causing the first transmission loss) may well last longer than 200 ms (or seconds). To be realistic, one is led to consider a novel and extremely powerful (adversary) failure model (denoted ), namely the restricted unbounded omission model, whereby messages meant to circulate on out of radio links are “erased” by the adversary (the same links), ad infinitum. Moreover, we have assumed message loss ratios as high as . This is the setting we have considered in  , where we present a solution for the fast (less than 200 ms) reliable (in the presence of ) multipoint communications problem TBD. The solution consists in a suite of Xcast protocols (the Zebra suite) and proxy sets built out of cohorts. Analytical expressions are given for the worst-case time bounds for each of the Zebra protocols.
Surprisingly, while not being originally devised to that end, it turns out that cohorts and groups are essential cornerstones for solving open problem TBA.