Modern societies face multiple societal and industrial challenges within a continuously evolving environment which is characterized by disrupting geopolitical, environmental and technological changes. Especially in the technological field, the rapid evolution of ICT technology transforms the way we live rapidly. The rise of digital services and products, the continuous interconnection of humans and machines on the Internet of Things (IoT) and the role of AI in everyday life ranging from communications and healthcare to industrial processes and mobility require advanced technical and industrial products and services. Among others, increasing computational speed, digital infrastructures and new architectures and methodologies are needed for the transition to the new era of Industry 4.0 and Society 5.0.
The HiCONNECTS project
This transition is envisaged to be supported by advanced Electronic Components and Systems (ECS) and energy-efficient and high-speed edge/cloud computing infrastructures. Enormous amounts of data are needed to be processed, analysed and transmitted. IoT faces various limitations and challenges concerning limited bandwidth, high latency and high energy consumption per bit of information. Moreover, the Highly Automated Driving sets important requirements for Levels 4 and 5, which the current radar technology cannot meet because of a lack of resolution, classification, segmentation, localization, and mapping.
Especially in the semiconductors industry, the manufacturers of chips, which are part of every ECS, have recognized the last years the potential sequences of the challenging physical limitations they face to maintain performance at a Moore’s Law-like rate. Among other design concepts adapted by the industry in order to overcome the obstacles, they have developed important advancements in chip architectures, chip packaging, and the interconnections between a number of components, called heterogeneous integration (HI). Moreover, HI creates new options for the semiconductor industry.
HiCONNECTS is a 36-month European research project bringing together more than 60 partners including companies, SMEs, universities and research institutions. The coordinator of the project is NXP, a leading company in the semiconductors industry. The project name stands for Heterogeneous Integration for Connectivity and Sustainability and its aim is to develop heterogenous integration core technology solutions for energy-efficient and high-performance cloud and edge computing as well as automotive radar. These solutions target solving two of the main state-of-the-art roadblocks: the transmission of IoT data over the IT network and the sensing of objects to enable Highly Automated Driving. The project will use the HI components to develop solutions with a major focus on RF technologies (5G/6G and radar) and IT data growth infrastructure for the advancement of vertical sectors such as connected vehicles, smart cities, and connected industries.
In the main areas of Public Health and Safety and Automotive and Smart Cities, the project will demonstrate its solutions in key application use cases. These include Life Science and Health, Public Protection and Disaster Relief, Smart Logistics and Digital Twining, Smart Construction Connectivity and Connected and Autonomous Mobility.
Smart Logistics and Digital Twining
This use case will deliver technological solutions in the field of communications, autonomous machines and digital replicas to an automotive plant, in order to transform the logistics and manufacturing process. More specifically, during the project fully autonomous Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMR) will be developed and will be supported by a Task and Traffic Management System (TTMS) and cutting-edge communication infrastructure in Ford’s Kocaeli automotive plant in Turkey.
The coordination and collaboration of AMRs for the transportation of production parts in an electric vehicle production place will enable the transition to a Smart Logistics concept, enabling the optimization of the overall performance. Within this concept, AMRs would collaborate autonomously, react to unforeseen events and finally act collectively to ensure the fulfilment of their mission. Furthermore, the use-case aims to develop a Digital Twin of the press-shop operations (one of the most common production methods in the automotive industry) which will reduce the percentage of faulty parts and production cost.
These developments require an edge infrastructure consisting of a local 5G network and optical communications, which will be developed and demonstrated in the plant. This network will interconnect the AMRs, high-level applications for monitoring, control and order management, operators and distributed sensors and gateways in the plant. Advanced hardware such as lidars, radars and C-V2X (Vehicle to Everything communications) modules, industrial sensors and gateways connectivity, as well as edge software applications, will be developed and installed in each AMR, enabling the autonomous perception, navigation, communication and distributed collaboration between them.
The final goal is to deliver a prototype of 10 AMRs operating in the battery and electric vehicle assembly area while all designs will be made for 100+ AMRs at the entire plant. From the Digital Twin side, an AI-supported Digital Twin frame structure will be developed for a press line of large sheet metal parts, aiming to enhance the press shop manufacturing quality at First Time Right, with no scraps. This development will constitute an important reference for other production lines. The results are envisaged to make the Kocaeli plant a complete showcase for all industries.
Within the Smart Logistics and Digital Twining use-case, ITML contributes to the development of an Order Management System (OMS) and more specifically will develop a data management tool for distributing data coming from the analysis component of OMS and other sources in the plant. Additionally, ITML contributes to the testing, validation and evaluation of AI-based algorithms developed by another partner. OMS will collect regular data from an ERP system regarding the orders of production parts to be transported and non-regular data from the plant agents regarding sensing outputs, status in the loading and unloading stations etc. The data will be used for further analysis through AI-based algorithms for predictions and validation of the materials.
Analysis results will feed the high-level interconnected applications namely Central Coordinator Software and Social AI to support the smart coordination and cooperation of the AMRs in the logistics process. The data management tool will be based on Data Fusion Bus (DFB), an ITML’s solution for trustworthy data transfer between interconnected components and permanent storage. The tool will ensure efficient, scalable and secure exchange and distribution of local and external messages, while it will provide permanent storage for access to historical data regarding the transport orders.
For more information visit the website of the project:
The project has received funding from the Chips Joint Undertaking (Chips JU) under grant agreement No 101097296. The JU receives support from the European Union’s Horizon EU research and innovation programs and Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Israel, Italy, Netherlands, Romania, Sweden, Switzerland and Turkey.
Funded by the European Union. Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or the granting authority. Neither the European Union nor the granting authority can be held responsible for them.