Future cyber-physical and Internet of Things (IoT) systems will have huge societal impact with technologies such as tele-healthcare, serious and entertainment online gaming, smart energy systems, and autonomous transport systems only if secure communications with ultra-low-latency will become a reality.
In these technologies, it would be highly desirable that the round-trip time to send information from a source to a destination and back experiences latencies below 1/2ms. For example, in online music concerts with remote musicians in a virtual orchestra and scattered remote audience, the musicians may play “together” only if the audio and visual latency is less than 2ms. In power distribution grids, highly detrimental out-of-phase injections could be easily avoided if the sensors communicate with the controllers and actuators within less than 2 ms. In the field of virtual and augmented reality, visual feedback must be below 2 ms when related to a sound or tactile event to avoid ”cybersickness”, or the dizziness similar to uncomfortable traveling at the back of a car or in a ship.
Despite our society being fully connected thanks to wireless networks and Internet, currently there is neither fundamental design method nor technology capable to ensure real-time and secure communications. While the most cutting-edge current networks (e.g., the fifth generation of cellular wireless networks) will deliver very high data rates, they will also provide communication delays of the order of 25ms. This delay is unacceptable for many complex cyberphysical and IoT services that are arising recently, such as surgery making use of robotic arms controlled by a skilled surgeon who is at far distance, or the automated steering of platoon of cars via wireless communications.
The promising Software Defined Networking vision, where the wireless access or network routing are reconfigured dynamically, will be of difficult implementation unless reliable low-latency communications are available to timely perform these reconfigurations. In this research project, we propose to systematically undertake the investigation of the most prominent design principles for future near-to-zero latency cyberphysical and IoT systems. Given that there are many sources of delay, from the wireless access, to the routing, from the security protocols, to the networked control and robotic interactions, the investigations will have to consider a new synergy among these disciplines.
The consortium includes also world-leading companies such as Ericsson Research, ABB Corporate Research, and the dynamic start-up company MIND (Modern and Ancient Instruments Networked) Musics Labs.