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Vehicular Information System Interface for Open Network Services (VISIONS)

Final Report Summary - VISIONS (Vehicular Information System Interface for Open Network Services)

The VISIONS project aimed at dealing with the exchange of data and documents between a truck (at the moment in which it enters a road infrastructure; e.g. a tunnel or a terminal container or a highway, etc.) and the information system of the infrastructure, offering information about the status of the vehicle and of the cargo via wireless network. On the basis of such data, the infrastructure can decide whether to allow or to deny the access to the infrastructure in real-time, or how to assist the truck in case of accident, thus maximising efficiency and safety.

The enabling component for this scenario is an interface (henceforth VISIONS interface) that integrates:
a) the controller area network (CAN-BUS) of the truck to extract the vehicle status parameters;
b) a set of sensors installed in the trailer and interconnected via short-haul wireless links to extract the cargo status;
c) the infrastructure information systems interconnected via wireless local area network to exchange data;
d) a number of remote office information systems (transport company, administrations, etc.) to send appropriate information (e.g. fuel consumption, position, etc.) regardless the brand of trucks, of trailers, etc.

The VISIONS interface was exactly the focus of the VISIONS project. In particular, the VISIONS project aimed to:
- to define an open (not proprietary) interface for the data and document exchange between the trucks and the ground information systems through different kinds of wireless networks (Wi-Fi, GPRS, UMTS, etc.);
- to set up a demonstrator of a system implementing the VISIONS interface that shows the feasibility and the effectiveness of this interface and shows a pair of mission-critical applications of this interface;
- to undertake a set of political actions such as pushing the European Commission to support this interface with appropriate recommendations (such as the EURO-x standards for environmental pollution), submitting to standardization committee (e.g. IETF, ISO, etc.), aggregating the consensus of end-users about the appropriateness of the interface.

VISIONS pursued the following individual objectives:

Objective 1 - Analysis of the technology state of the art
The main contribution of this analysis was the awareness that the information and communication technologies (ICT) available today are suitable for supporting the VISIONS system functionalities. In particular:
- Experimental studies specifically carried out for the VISIONS project have shown that, even at the upper bound speed of 120 Km/h, commonly available Wireless LAN technologies IEEE802.11b can provide a reliable (i.e. with very low loss rate) channel that supports the exchange of a data bulk of 1 Megabyte between a running vehicle and a ground station. No effects of vehicle speed on data transfer quality have been experimentally registered, except for the natural reduction of the availability time of the channel.
- Experimental studies, specifically carried out for VISIONS project, have shown that the channel provided by GPRS service is well suited for wide area data exchange between a truck and remote offices, in Central / West Europe, (characterised in terms of time and space of lacks of connectivity). On the contrary, for East Europe countries, satellite communication appears the only suitable channel at the current time for long haul communications. The experiments have been carried out installing small portable terminals equipped with GPS and GPRS interfaces on truck running through the Europe for several weeks.
- The interconnection of CAN-BUS to an on-board equipment is well deployable and a network management protocol (SNMP) and an application protocol (SOAP / XML) have been compared to evaluate their suitability for supporting the remote access to the services of the truck control units.
- The level of integration of on-board truck control units can be improved, as each interface (e.g. GPS, GSM, CAN-BUS interface), at the moment, is equipped with its own microcontroller. The transfer of the computation from each of these microcontrollers to one CPU only would take advantage of reconfigurable capabilities of new generation microprocessors and would reduce the overall equipment cost.

Objective 2 - Identification of data and documents to be exchanged through the VISIONS system
The core contribution of this analysis is the awareness that there exists a set of information items, that, properly transferred (i.e. at the appropriate time and at the appropriate location) from the vehicle to other information systems and vice versa, would increase the safety, the efficiency and the quality of the processes managed by end-user partners, i.e. tunnel administrations, transport companies, container terminals.

In particular, the study has put in evidence:
- The automatic transmission of a set of real-time parameters of truck (e.g. fluid temperatures, brake status, etc.) and of the trailer would allow reducing the time of vehicle inspection before the entrance of the tunnel.
- The check of parameters usually not inspected (e.g. fuel level) would prevent the infrastructure to handle events that reduce the efficiency of critical infrastructure (e.g. out-of-fuel vehicles).
- The gathering of some information (e.g. status of the content of tank containers, the completion of some events) is costly, and often imprecise or untimely with respect to the transport industry needs.
- The current procedures for the admittance of trucks in a gate are based on paper documents that may be difficult to authenticate, slow to process and, in case of accident, not readily available. The transmission of such documents would increase the safety, the quality and the efficiency of the terminal.

Objective 3 - Definition of the VISIONS architecture
The result of this activity is the definition of the VISIONS system architecture. The most innovative features of the architecture are:
- dynamic registry of available services: when the truck enters an VISIONS-enabled area, the on-board system registers to the infrastructure ground station and exposes automatically its services to the management station;
- profiles of service security: the system grants the access to different sets of services provided by the vehicle information system, according to the privileges of the requesting entities;
- export of services to third parties: the services provided by the vehicle information system are made available to other actors through a business community mechanism based on a service oriented architecture;
- seamless integration of communication channel: the services provided by the vehicle information system can be supported by different type of wireless infrastructure (i.e. Wi-Fi, GPRS, UMTS) dynamically selected and transparent to the service users.

Objective 4 - Design and implementation of ICT system based on VISIONS architecture
This objective has been achieved by designing and implementing the following systems:
- On board device based on off-the-shelf platforms based on standard embedded operating system. This device implements the VISIONS interaction scheme with standard components (embedded Linux kernel, Apache Tomcat web / application server, Axis SOAP-based web services framework, network Linux services, NMEA GPS driver, OASIS web services security modules, smart card support based on ISO 7816 and JavaCard, Wi-Fi support);
- ground system based on Linux server PC, implementing service registry, dynamic moving vehicle login / logoff facilities, user interface to the vehicle data;
- on-board device based on dedicated hardware for low-cost sensor management, multiple GPRS interfaces, double CAN interface, optimised light network protocols;
- portable on-board device for container localisation (specifically, for ADR applications)

Objective 5 - On-Field demonstration of VISIONS systems
This objective has been completed achieved by performing the following activities:
- Full implementation of the VISIONS on-board and ground system for local information exchange between a fully instrumented truck and infrastructure information system. Experiments in the Mont Blanc tunnel.
- Full hardware and software development of the VISIONS on-board system for sensor and on-board equipment information transmission. Wide deployment in 30 tank trucks and integration with largest Italian oil company information system.
- Full hardware and software development of a portable VISIONS on-board system for remote information exchange for container tracking. Wide development in 30 trucks carrying container and integration with transport company information system. Data mining of tracking data.

Objective 6 - Dissemination of the VISIONS system (2004-2006)
This objective has been achieved, through the following actions:
- publishing six scientific articles in international conferences and one article in an international journal;
- publishing the results of the demonstration of the Mont Blanc tunnel in radio and television;
- preparing a video shown to the Telindus symposium and published on the symposium website: http://www.telindussymposium.com/programme/testimonials.asp;
- demonstrator exhibition at the Transport Research Arena, Goteborg, June 2006;
- demonstration in the Volvo-Ericsson Security Arena;
- demonstration to other related projects RUNES;
- completion of the VISIONS project website: http://visions.dei.unipd.it.

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