The Intelligent Airport - TInA

kneewastefulΤεχνίτη Νοημοσύνη και Ρομποτική

29 Οκτ 2013 (πριν από 4 χρόνια και 6 μήνες)

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The Intelligent Airport


How often have you sat down in your seat on a plane only to hear that the flight is
delayed because a passenger has not boarded and their bags have to be removed from
the cargo hold?

This is a surprisingly common occurrence,
and leads to missed take
off slots and loss
of revenue for the airline, as well as wasted resources, since the engines may already
be running burning precious aircraft fuel and churning out harmful CO2.

In the TINA project, we are researching how to delive
r a complete network for all the
communications needs of future airports.

The majority of communications access in an airport is via wireless links, whether for
monitoring the location of people, bags, vehicles, or for voice and video
communication, air tr
affic control and surveillance, or data communications for
telemetry such as aircraft maintenance, and of course for customers e
mail access and

This research has several aspects to it:

Firstly, as a novel application, we are looking at the radio

tagging of all vehicles, bags
and passenger boarding passes, to enable the airport management to reduce the
number of missing people and bags

To get a feel for the scale of the problem, we have been working with the companies
that manage the facilities at

Heathrow Airport, and with the companies building its
new Terminal 5. At any given time, there are around 300,000 people and objects
moving around in the airport. To track these objects usefully, we need to know where
they are every second, to an accuracy

of around one meter. It would be annoying to
ring alarms too often, so we need a system that is extremely reliable, as well as low on
maintenance. The system we are building uses radio tags that must be powered to be
detected accurately, but must have a v
ery long battery life. We intend that the tags are
recovered, e.g.when passengers board or when bags are reclaimed, but nevertheless
the costs must be kept low too. Tag tracking might be complimented by other means
of tracking such as video image processin
g, to reduce false alarms. The question of
passenger privacy must be adequately factored into the design to make the system

Secondly, we are interested in unifying the wireless and wired networks in the
environment to simplify the provision o
f communications, reduce costs, and to
improve reliability. Today, airports and other similar large scale public spaces have a
number of different wireless and wired networks to support the various applications
such as voice, video and data. In a new buil
t environment, there is an opportunity to
carry out a clean
slate design for a unified network. We are looking at a combination
of wireless and fiber networks with a number of radical new approaches to organising
the communications system design. In the wi
reless sensor domain, we use radio tags
based on a modified version of RFID used in supermarkets today. These are powered
and able to be programmed potentially in smarter, self
organising configurations to
report on each others location and provide a funne
lling effect from each region of the
network towards points where the wired network can carry amalgamated reports back
to data centers.

Thirdly, the overall network must have extremely high availability, since it is
essential to the smooth operating of t
he airport. The requirements are rather more
stringent than most networks. Typically, we might expect at most 1
2 hours of
scheduled downtime per year during the early morning at a quiet time of the year.
Since components in the network are not this reliab
le, we must use a design
incorporating redundancy and fast failover or recovery after outages. It is Likely that
successful network designs will be quite simple. Currently, the architecture we favour
uses relatively new technique called radio
fiber, t
o carry radio signals from each
region of the airport back to data centers in analog form over a fiber “back
network, and then places base
station equipment for each type of radio at the data
centers. The fiber back haul network itself might have 3
old redundancy, although
distributed algorithms (such as the multiple spanning tree algorithm) may be
employed to provide re
configuration whenever any fiber is accidentally cut.
Alternatives such as network coding across all live links, and multiple ring
will be evaluated.

The capacity of the overall system must be enough in normal operation to carry on the
order of 85Gbps of traffic. To put this in perspective, this is around 10,000 times the
speed of the fastest broadband Internet access today
. The combination of the high
accuracy tracking of self
organised radio tags, the overall high demand on the
wireless network, and the extremely high reliability needs make this a unique piece of
research in communications systems research.