Cranfield University teams up with Spirent on connected car tech
Cranfield University teams up with Spirent on connected car tech
(Credit: Cranfield University)

Cranfield University teams up with Spirent on connected car tech

Engineers from telco testing giant Spirent Communications will work with researchers at Cranfield University focusing on the future of connected, autonomous vehicles.

The two organizations say they want to explore ways to improve positioning and timing technologies to better enable unmanned vehicles such as autonomous aircraft or connected cars.

Currently, Spirent engineers are working with postgraduate researchers at the university to develop new ways for synchronisation and location testing. They’re using Spirent’s advanced test systems.

Working specifically on the university’s Autonomous Vehicle Dynamics and Control (AVDC) MSc programme as an industry partner, Spirent is supporting a range of individual research projects.

These include ‘GPS-Based Clock Synchronisation for an Airborne Distributed Sensor Network’ and  ‘In-car mapping and receiver integration testing for autonomous vehicles’.

Read more: UK government launches connected car security guidelines

Critical development

Prof Rafal Zbikowski, professor of control engineering at Cranfield University, said: “Creating new ways to verify that autonomous vehicles are in exactly the right place is critical to the development of CAVs.”

“Spirent has been verifying GPS/GNSS receivers for 30 years so has a lot of knowledge that will be very useful to our researchers.”

Headquartered in West Sussex, Spirent provides testing, assurance, analytics and security solutions across the world and helps companies to “communicate and collaborate faster, better, and more securely to provide a superior user experience”.

Mark Holbrow, head of engineering at Spirent’s positioning business unit, said:  “Location awareness for autonomous vehicles is of major importance, and is one of the most challenging applications in commercial GNSS development.

“We will be working with Cranfield to create new test and development tools that will provide the opportunity for improved system performance, accuracy and resilience.”

Read more: Autonomous driving will create $7 trillion “passenger economy”, says Intel

Security is paramount

Paul Dignan, global technical account manager at US secure application delivery firm F5 Networks, said companies need to think about security when developing driverless car technology.

“As cities become smarter and automotive technology more advanced, cars will increasingly resemble a collection of apps connected to their surroundings through big data and the IoT,’ he said.

“Infrastructural innovations will be essential to enabling communication between vehicles and the places they navigate, collect and analyze data at scale, allowing governments to reduce carbon emissions, alleviate traffic congestion and create safer roads.

“For autonomous cars to become a cornerstone of our connected world, manufacturers must embed robust security solutions across the production cycle to ensure the road ahead leads to a faster, smarter and safer society.”