New ‘self-healing’ mobile network could power driverless cars

Pioneering research at the University of the West of Scotland is leading the way for the development of a new 5G mobile network that could deliver better service and unlock new technologies.

The SELFNET project, led by researchers Dr Jose Alcaraz-Calero and Dr Qi Wang, promises to deliver dramatic improvements to quality of user experience, reliability and security in mobile networks.

As part of its project, the group is working to develop a ‘self-healing’ mobile network that could provision for signal blackspots in rural areas. The improvement would be felt by ordinary phone users through better HD video streaming and conferencing, even when travelling, through self-optimisation, according to Dr Wang.

The technology is also said to make new technologies, such as remote surgery and driverless cars, possible.

“Unprecedented reliability and stability will transform the way we think about mobile networks. For example, the ‘self-healing’ part of the network will ensure stable connectivity even when on the move – making driverless cars a realistic mainstream possibility,” Dr Alcaraz-Calero said. “Improved bandwidth and reliability means digital-health, including mobile surgery, becomes viable, potentially dramatically improving the delivery of healthcare to remote areas.”

The software used for the ‘self-healing’ aspect of the project will also predict peaks in demand and allow users to have signal even during popular events, such as football matches, as the technology will allocate extra bandwidth in advance.

In addition, the ‘self-protection’ in the 5G system could stop hackers who target to take down networks through its ability to track denial of service attacks (DDoS) and shut down suspicious connections before the damage.

SELFNET is one of 19 schemes across Europe, with partners in the UK, Germany, Greece, Italy, Israel, Portugal, and Spain, aimed to design the 5G network.

The SELFNET project will run for three years and is funded by the EU’s Horizon 2020 programme.

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