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A flagship for B5G/6G vision and intelligent fabric of technology enablers connecting human, physical, and digital worlds

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - Hexa-X (A flagship for B5G/6G vision and intelligent fabric of technology enablers connecting human, physical, and digital worlds)

Reporting period: 2021-01-01 to 2021-12-31

The Hexa-X project aims to lay the foundation for the future 6G networks that will enable a unification of the physical, digital, and human worlds, addressing the expectation of ever-increasing performance with improved throughput, coverage, or reliability while ensuring that trustworthiness is embedded into the design of the networks. Meanwhile, the sustainability of our societies, industries and environments is one of the foremost challenges of our days and wireless networks must pro-actively provide sustainable digital solutions to help address e.g. the UN SDGs.
The overall objectives of the Hexa-X project are:
1. Foundations for an end-to-end system towards 6G: Develop the 6G x-enabler fabric and the KVIs for a vision of connecting intelligence, sustainability, trustworthiness, inclusion, and extreme experience.
2. Radio performance towards 6G: Deliver extreme performance utilizing key radio technology components, through higher bands and localisation/sensing.
3. Connecting intelligence towards 6G: Deliver methodology, algorithms, and architectural requirements for an AI-native network, through AI-driven air interface and AI governance.
4. Network evolution and expansion towards 6G: Deliver enablers for an intelligent network of networks, through network disaggregation and dynamic dependability.
5. Impact creation towards 6G: Drive a global open discussion on key 6G topics through dissemination, leveraging of outcomes, contributions to standard development, regulatory forums, scientific and industrial domains.
The work in the Hexa-X project have been conducted in the 7 technical WPs, each publishing one or more deliverable during the first year of the project.
The main focus of the work has been on SotA and gap analysis, with WP1 setting the stage with D1.1 defining the 6G vision for the future mobile networks outlining the main research challenges for 6G: Connecting intelligence, Network of Networks, Sustainability, Global service coverage, Extreme experience, and Trustworthiness. The deliverable also outlined five use case families and evaluated the concept of key performance indicators (KPIs) and key value indicators (KVI). D1.2 further expanded on these topics, also including deliberations on spectrum, sustainability, and security aspects for 6G.
The WP2 deliverable D2.1 outlined a gap analysis and D2.2 comprised an initial analysis of aspects related to communication >100 GHz, e.g. hardware impairments and limitations, exploration of potential waveforms, beamforming techniques, and performing initial radio channel measurement at 140 GHz. The deliverables also comprise an evaluation of distributed MIMO applicable from <6 GHz to >100 GHz.
WP3 deliverable D3.1 developed preliminary methods for localization and sensing, including studies on waveforms, signal shaping, architectures, and algorithms and performed a use case analysis and corresponding gap analysis.
The WP4 deliverable D4.1 evaluated trends and conducted a gap analysis related to AI-driven air interfaces as well as for methods and algorithms for sustainable and secure distributed AI. WP4 has also begun defining exemplary use cases and application requirements for the planned demonstrator showing federated explainable AI.
The WP5 deliverable D5.1 identified technical trends important for 6G architecture and defined the initial scope for 6G architecture enablers for Intelligent distributed network, support of a more flexible and adaptable network, and for efficient cloud native networks. D5.1 also developed new architecture KPIs for future evaluation of the 6G architecture enablers.
WP6 explored in D6.1 a thorough SotA analysis, identifying the relevant SDOs and industry fora currently working on management and orchestration (M&O) systems. D6.1 further identified the relevant features for the M&O of the future 6G networks. WP6 has also analyzed the current M&O standards, concluding that the Hexa-X M&O architecture should be designed without alignment to any specific standard to allow flexible implementation of different SotA standards.
WP7 analyzed the use cases from WP1 (D1.1 D1.2) and their requirements related to extreme experiences, focusing on Dependability in Industry 4.0 and Sustainable Coverage in D7.1 with an SotA and gap analysis on how to address these requirements. WP7 begun preparing a demonstrator for handling unexpected situations in Industry 4.0 environments.
WP8, responsible for overseeing the impact creation of the project have launched and maintained the project website, a Zenodo repository for tracking publications, supported the submission of standardization contributions, and conducted an initial market analysis and exploitation survey published in D8.1.
WP9, responsible for the project management, have overseen the completion, review and publication of all project deliverables according to schedule to date. WP9 have also organized regular PMT, plenary, gerenal assembly and advisory group meetings.
The 6G vision, use cases and novel concept of KVI will likely guide the 6G research going forward. With novel tools for efficient spectrum utilization will enhance the performance in higher bands while the work on the security architecture for 6G will provide a means to counteract the 6G threat landscape.
The measurement campaigns up to 170 GHz will provide means for generating multi-path channel models necessary for evaluating the 6G performance. The design and evaluation of the waveforms and beamforming techniques will provide essential insights into the limitations and required tradeoffs for building the 6G system.
The WP3 work on the joint communication and sensing will enable solutions that can completely reinvent the purpose of the radio communication, providing access to ubiquitous cost-effective connected sensors that can truly usher in the cyber-physical world.
In WP4, the AI-based air interface will provide a more adaptive and efficient communication link, while the in-network learning can leverage on the evolution of AI to facilitate optimization and automation at all levels of the network, while ensuring explainable AI to provide the root cause of the AI-based decisions.
The WP5 work will provide the framework to enhance the intelligence, flexibility, and efficiency of the networks, by providing enablers for analytics and federate learning, integration of a wide range of connectivity options for truly global and efficient coverage, and streamlining the interfaces and signaling to enable cloud deployment of both RAN and CN.
In WP6, the work will fully leverage on the AI capabilities to enable an efficient device-edge-cloud continuum M&O and to foster a data-driven M&O with highly automated DevOps techniques.
The WP7 work towards dependable connectivity and sustainable coverage will provide solutions for efficient optimizations of control-communication-codesign with providing e.g. AI aaS or Compute aaS, as well as integrating e.g. zero-energy devices. Furthermore, the work on novel human-machine interfaces (HMI) will enable expansion of the digital twin concept with unprecedented monitoring and interaction capabilities.
The WP8 work will ensure that the results from the technical WPs are properly disseminated and communicated ensuring continued standardization impact. The exploitation analysis by WP8 shows the interests and plans by the partners to fully utilize the technologies developed in the project.
Results from work package 6
Results from work package 4
Results from work package 2
Results from work package 7
Results from work package 5
Results from work package 1
Results from work package 3