Researchers are rolling out a network of basestations across Bristol to communicate with driverless cars.

The basestations will use the latest Vehicle-to-Infrastructure (V2I) technology with a Bristol twist. Instead of using expensive dedicated hardware and software, the researchers have used low cost commercial Wi-Fi chips and their own software. These roadside systems could even have their own sensors such as LIDAR or radar to send data back to the cars to prevent accidents.

“We are focusing on the cybersecurity of typical V2I architectures,” says Dr Andrea Tassi (pictured above), a researcher on the project. “We are interested in the different types of use cases that will use the security. For example, there are privacy implications as there will be a need to secure data packets and change encryption keys without this being tracked.”

Improved security

V2I uses a standard called IEEE802.11p similar to Wi-Fi that provides a low latency of just 2ms and more security. Because the basestations will be in roadside cabinets, traffic lights and on lamp posts, they can use lower cost chips for vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) links, with the researchers developing their own open-source software to test out different security protocols.

The basestations will roll out in the new year to test out how driverless cars can communicate safely and reliably with real-world infrastructure and what that means for communications networks. The basestations will be linked to the software-defined networking technology that’s being developed and tested at the University of Bristol via a dedicated fibre optic network.

This is part of the FLOURISH project which is funded by Innovate UK with a total budget of £5.5m with design, engineering and project management consultancy Atkins, leading engineers Airbus, neural-networking startup Aiseedo as well as insurance company AXA. Another partner, Dynniq, is developing technology for use by connected vehicles and a city-based dashboard for use by network operators.