Forschungs- & Entwicklungsinformationsdienst der Gemeinschaft - CORDIS

Periodic Report Summary 1 - RETNET (The European Industrial Doctorate Programme on Future Real-Time Networks)

RetNet - The European Industrial Doctorate Programme on Future Real-Time Networks

Coordinator: Mälardalen University
Partner: TTTech Computertechnik AG
Associated partners: Technische Universität Wien, ABB AB, Ericsson AB, Volvo Construction Equipment AB

Project web site:
LinkedIn group:

The aim of the research programme is twofold:
(1) to advance the state of the art and practice in predictable realtime and Internet networking and
(2) training of early stage researchers to prepare them for careers in advanced technical development and research. By (1) the programme will contribute to strengthening the competitiveness of European industry and engineering research. By (2) the programme will provide competence that could play key roles in the European research and development of advanced products for many years to come. The project is a perfect match between academic education and application relevant research and ideal funding instrument for the startup of TTTech Labs.

Technologically, RetNet’s objective is to significantly extend and widen the applicability of the predictable network communication paradigm of TTTech’s TTEthernet technology by (1) developing a wireless version of this technology, addressing the fundamental scientific challenge of providing dependable wireless communication, and (2) increasing the flexibility of TTEthernet technology by extending it with on-line adaption and admission of traffic, thereby making the technology applicable in more dynamic “Internet-like” settings. The Project includes the following five sub-projects (Research Projects – RP) organized into WP 1-5:
• RP1. Wireless Future Real-Time Networks– the basic technology (ESR1)
• RP2. Wireless Future Real-Time Networks – security framework (ESR2)
• RP3. Flexible Future Real-Time Networks – technology enhancement (ESR3)
• RP4. Dynamic Future Real-Time Networks – adaptation framework (ESR 4)
• RP5. Future Real-Time Networks enabled distributed coordination (ESR5)

The first months were devoted to setting up the project at the partners and was also used to identify and screen potential candidates for the research topics. Recruitment of ESRs for the five WPs was executed jointly by both main partners and was supported by the associate partners, according to the already establish recruitment procedures valid at TTTech and MDH. By Month 9 all 5 ESRs had been recruited and had officially started. 2 of the ESRs was recruited by MDH and 3 of the ESRs by TTTech, hence each ESR has a single contract with one of the partners and then they are seconded to the other. The Recruitment Committee had a clear assignment to observe gender equality and out of the 5 recruited ESRs 2 are female.

All ESRs are enrolled as PhD students at Mälardalen University (MDH) and the training is done according to the rules and procedures for research studies at MDH. The comprehensive training programme for each ESR includes the following key elements; Post Graduate courses, including research methodology and professional Courses; research subject related courses and ESR research work and supervision. The training is progressing well for all ESRs and are fully according to plan. So far all ESRs have completed more than 50 ECTS credits of course work. During the spring of 2016 the plan is that all ESRs will be awarded the degree of Licentiate corresponding to 50% of a PhD.

All ESRs are also taking part in the complementary skills training offered by the TTTECH academy. During the first two years of the project the ESRs have benefitted from training in communication, presentation techniques and languages. Also by being embedded in real-world industrial projects, the ESRs have further learnt about IPRs, standardization, project and grant management directly in their daily work.

In the last two years, RetNet has substantially extended the scientific basis of real-time communication resulting in eleven published papers as well as two filed patent applications. Detailed information of the publications and patent applications related to the RetNet project can be found on the website (see link above). Short overview of the main achievements so far:

RetNet has developed solutions for deterministic wireless communication that can serve as extensions to the TTEthernet technology to enable seamless time-triggered communication in a network with mixed wired and wireless communication links. These solutions have been analytically analyzed and simulated and we have started to implement these solutions on a hardware platform. RetNet has investigated security objectives and security threats for wired and wireless networks, as well as objectives and threats that emerge in mixed wired/wireless time-triggered networks. We have identified time synchronization as one of the most critical assets and presented real-world attack scenarios that cause time synchronization to fail. Our analysis has focused on a widespread time synchronization protocol.

The configuration and analysis of real-time networks is of equally high importance as the real-time network itself and RetNet has achieved significant results also in this respect. RetNet has developed the paradigm of a Configuration Agent that serves as a structured approach to enrich the currently static TTEthernet technology with dynamic and flexible re-configuration capabilities. The Configuration Agent addresses the automatic detection of re-configuration possibilities as well as the actual re-configuration procedures. This work is closely aligned with ongoing standardization work in the IEEE 802.1 Time-Sensitive Networking (TSN) group. We have filed a patent application on the topic of the Configuration Agent and a core publication in this area received a best paper award. A specific problem in time-triggered communication is the development and design of the communication schedule that defines at which points in time which messages will be communicated in the network. In general this scheduling problem is known to be NP-complete and therefore, solving the scheduling problem typically demands sophisticated tools. In this respect, RetNet has greatly advanced communication scheduling. In particular, it is now possible to schedule systems with up to a factor of a hundred more messages than previously possible.

RetNet has also investigated novel use-cases for real-time networks. For this, we have focused on the automotive domain, in particular advanced driver assistance systems. Indeed, as a result of our studies RetNet has developed a revolutionary concept on how to improve safety of vehicles on the road which is based on a novel monitoring concept of a vehicle’s computer-vision system. We have presented how the concept can be implemented using the time-triggered paradigm and are in the process of refining the concept to a detailed design on a TTEthernet-based platform.

RetNet will continue to refine the developed concepts towards more extensive simulations and prototypes. The resulting data of the associated experiments together with the overall scientific and technical work of RetNet allows TTTech as industrial partner to conclude on product developments of the TTEthernet technology in various timeframes (short/mid/long term). The technology and products based on the RetNet scientific foundation will be applicable for a multitude of use cases. For example, the wireless as well as configuration/tooling results will have immediate impact on the technical developments in the area of Industrie 4.0 and the Internet of Things (IoT) in general. Likewise, the RetNet research in the area of automotive advanced-driver assistance systems has a high potential to reduce the number of accidents on the streets. In general, the RetNet results will improve the real-time and (re)configuration capabilities, safety, as well as the security properties of distributed cyber-physical systems.

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