Emerging Technology Team Goes Virtual for Connected Vehicle Testing

Erik Kiledal

Ford’s connected vehicle platforms and products emerging technology team was already faced with a tight two-week deadline for a presentation slated March 26 to showcase continued development of system modules for a new pre-production vehicle-to-infrastructure feature.

Then, when Ford’s North American pandemic quarantine was announced March 13, the team’s work on the project looked to be in jeopardy.

This type of system – which uses cellular vehicle-to-everything radios, both onboard units for vehicles and roadside units for the infrastructure, to enable the feature – is typically tested in a Ford lab environment before being tested in the field. But because access to Ford’s labs was restricted due to local stay-at-home orders, it looked as if all of the team’s work could come grinding to a halt.

So to stay on track, Ford’s connected vehicle technology engineers had to figure out a way to set up and configure equipment for remote access from team members’ homes, located across southeast Michigan and southwest Ontario. Krishna Bandi worked to facilitate their hardware needs by setting up the radio equipment at his home, including onboard units, roadside units, a multi-access edge computer and a SYNC 4 test development kit over network remote access.

Palakonda Sathya worked with Bandi on  application technology, continuing development of applications on onboard units, roadside units and the multi-access edge computer using simulation.

Bandi and Sathya set up remote access to the hardware, enabling the team to continue development of the technology for various vehicle-to-everything applications over the distributed network. This was done by using the simulated vehicle location data and providing alerts to SYNC4 human-machine interface and communicating with the Ford Cloud Server.

Mustafa Jawaid led Ford cloud server development, while Erik Kiledal set up remote access to the simulation server and modified the mechanism for transmitting simulated vehicle location data. Richard Ortman modified the onboard unit software and updated the unit to support reading simulated vehicle data from a remote server.

Esi Jedari updated the human-machine interface screens and Python code, connecting the human-machine interface to the rest of the system.

Bandi then created a presentation that showed the equipment setup flow in a virtual format and Kiledal created a video of the simulation to play to Ford’s entire connected vehicle platforms and products emerging technology department over WebEx.

“During this pandemic, the team is continuing the work on innovations like cellular vehicle-to-everything communication technologies that will enable smart vehicles in a smart world,” said Bandi.

“Our teamwork successfully highlights the importance of connectivity, which is a key part of Ford’s plan,” added Jedari. “Ford is going to make connectivity available on all its vehicles using cellular vehicle-to-everything technology by 2022.”

Kiledal said discovering new ways to work has been an unintended benefit of the stay-at-home order. “Our team is applying innovation not just to vehicles, but to the process of developing vehicles to overcome obstacles created by this pandemic,” he said. 

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