Integrated Sensing and communications for future vehicuLAr systems - a Network of Doctoral Students



While deployment of fifth-generation (5G) wireless networks is progressing in many parts of the world, and 3GPP is working on advanced 5G New Radio (NR) releases, forward-looking research has started to focus on the design of the next generation (6G) of wireless networks, both in industry and in academia. Focusing on radio access technologies, 6G wireless networks will be based on the evolution of some key 5G technologies, – such as, to name a few, massive MIMO, the use of high carrier frequencies (in the millimeter and TeraHertz bands), the use of air interface solutions based on artificial intelligence (AI), – and on brand new technologies, such as reconfigurable intelligent surfaces, holographic communications, and integrated sensing and communications (ISAC).  Of these, ISAC, also named “joint communication and sensing” (JC&S) or “dual-function radar-communication” (DFRC), is one of the most striking and promising.

ISAC a new paradigm aiming at integrating the sensing functionality into wireless networks.

One of the areas that will be strongly impacted and will benefit the most from the development of ISAC in future 6G networks is by no doubt the automotive sector. Indeed, moving people and goods is one of the fundamental needs of our modernized and global society, and we aspire that in the near future mobility will be more sustainable, more automated, more secure and more efficient than ever. These objectives can be reached by fully exploiting information technologies and in particular the potential of wireless networks. 5G wireless networks have been the first to have tried to provide extensive support for connected and automated mobility. As an example, the 5G advanced physical layer solutions, including new numerology and new channel codes to support low latency communications, network slicing and the localization capability, represent a first initial step towards the support of vehicle-to-everything (V2X) communications and Tele-operated Driving (ToD). However, the technological advancement brought by 5G for connected and automated mobility (CAM) services are unanimously considered not enough. Further progress is expected for forthcoming 6G systems.  The unique capabilities brought by ISAC such as sensing-assisted communications and communication-assisted sensing, provide an unprecedented tool for the development and deployment of CAM services in terms of reliability, safety, localization accuracy and responsiveness.

How ISAC will revolutionize the wireless and connected/automated mobility landscape.

In the following, we list the key ISAC features that hold the potential to revolutionize the wireless communications landscape in general, and CAM services in particular.

  1. Increased hardware, spectrum and energy efficiency. Resource pooling is a well-known way to increase efficiency and achieve a better use of available resources. Performing both the sensing and communication tasks by sharing significant portions of the transceiver hardware (antennas, RF chains, DSPs, chips, etc.), ISAC is such a key resource pooling mechanism. It allows to use a common power budget and spectrum, while saving hardware.
  2. Better communication performance by using sensing information, i.e., sensing-assisted communications. Wireless communication relies on functions such as channel estimation, beam alignment, beam tracking, handover management, etc. These functionalities are currently implemented through ad-hoc protocols, exploiting suitable reference data signals. An ISAC network will help strengthen the performance of such functions and ultimately improve the performance of the communication system, with better support to CAM services.
  3. Better sensing performance by using communication data, i.e., communication-assisted sensing. In CAM services, estimating and tracking the position of a vehicle with high accuracy is a crucial task. An ISAC network can improve this task by also exploiting the communication signals transmitted by the vehicles. Moreover, communication signals transmitted by some devices may be helpful to detect and locate nearby passive objects, and to create a map of the surrounding environment.
  4. New use-cases and new business opportunities. A perceptive network can offer a much larger number of services than a traditional “communication only” network. All these new use-cases will naturally generate new business opportunities and the creation of new value-added services with high utility margins.
Why a Doctoral Network?

In order to realize ISAC-empowered wireless networks specifically tailored to the automotive sector, innovative training is to be conceived and realized. Developing ISAC technologies for the connected vehicle of the future is a highly inter-disciplinary effort.

ISLANDS will lay the theoretical and algorithmic foundations of ISAC techniques for future vehicular applications, will develop the first experimental testbeds and simulators in the area, and will train the next generation of EU researchers with specialized interdisciplinary expertise on the topic.
Research objectives

The above overall objective is decomposed into the following four research objectives of ISLANDS:

Research Objective 1 – Theoretical framework for ISAC in vehicular environments. Develop new mathematical techniques for theoretical ISAC in high-mobility environments and unveil fundamental trade-offs for dual function radar-communication systems.

Research Objective 2 – Algorithmic framework for ISAC in vehicular environments. Develop new communication schemes, waveforms, beamforming algorithms, AI-based solutions, resource allocation schemes, to come up with effective ISAC schemes for vehicular environments and to cope with the harsh environment caused by doubly selective fading channels.

Research Objective 3 – Developing ISAC hardware. Bring to light novel antenna systems specifically designed for ISAC tasks in vehicles. Develop novel vehicular radar transceivers equipped with the communication functionality. Contribute to the definition and development of ISAC-enabled base station transceivers.

Research Objective 4 – Developing testbeds, demos and an open-access simulator. Develop demos and over-the-air experiments to showcase ISAC functionalities in vehicular environments, from both UE and network sides. Develop a unique and comprehensive open-access system-level software simulator.

To achieve the above research objectives, ISLANDS will hire eleven DCs, who will synergistically work on ten integrated and intertwined projects, each spanning at least two research objectives.