Meet ICCS-Institute of Communications and Computer Systems

ICCS, the Institute of Communications and Computer Systems is the oldest and largest academic Research Institute in Greece. It is the research branch of the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering of the National Technical University of Athens (NTUA), and it was founded in 1989 as an independent, non profit organization. Since then, ICCS conducts interdisciplinary cutting-edge research and R&D activities in areas such as: Hardware and Software Technology, Computer Network Technology, Digital Communications Technologies, Automation Technologies, Energy and Power Production Technologies, Biomedical and Biomechanics Technologies, Information Systems and Management Decision Technologies, Photonic Technologies for Communications etc. For the last 33 years, it has a valuable impact on the country’s scientific output, producing outstanding research results that contribute to the targets of the European Research Area (ERA). Committed to the highest standards of academic research, the Institute maintains well organized facilities based in Athens and a reputation as a top-level research institution worldwide. With more than 800 highly qualified researchers, scientists and faculty members and having a long history of involvement in R&D activities (eg participation in more than 4000 national and European R&D projects), the Institute offers a world-class research environment for technical inquiry and scholarly exchange. Today, ICCS comprises of 34 Research Units.

In EVENTS project, ICCS is represented by one of its Research Units, the I-SENSE Group. I-SENSE Group consists of more than 150 researchers of various ranks and is very active in a number of scientific and research areas with main application areas the Intelligent Transportation Systems, the Virtual Environments, the Assistive Technologies and the Smart Integrated Systems & Communication. I-SENSE has coordinated and participates in more than 150 Research Projects, both EU funded and National ones, the last 20 years, and has worked with several industry leaders since its establishment in 2002, serving currently as the Coordinator of the following projects in the field of CCAM and ITS: PODIUM, DELPHI, 5G-IANA, ENVELOPE, Battery2life and many others.

What is your role and involvement in the EVENTS project?

ICCS is coordinating this ambitious project and managing the administrative, financial and technical aspects of the project as well as data management. In addition, ICCS is responsible for assessing innovation opportunities, managing potential risks, optimizing overall project outcomes, and providing information flow between the Consortium and the European Commission. It is also involved in several technical tasks, like synthetic data generation from simulations, collective perception, maneuver prediction, SOTIF-based testing and hybrid testing. Last but not least, ICCS is also responsible for the data collection and preparation for the evaluation as well as the technical analysis of the system’s operation.

How do you ensure that the project is aligned with industry needs in the field of CAVs?

EVENTS from its conception has aspired to develop solutions that are in line with what the industry needs. For that matter, it was paramount to start with a consortium that would consist of partners from all different types of organizations. We have succeeded in that by having partners from the automotive industry, Tier 1 providers, SMEs, research institutes and universities. This diverse pool of participants ensures that EVENTS’ results are aligned with the industry from all perspectives and that CCAM stakeholders across the board can benefit from them. More specifically, in ICCS, we follow closely the standardization activity in both virtual and real-world testing, developing collective perception algorithms with ETSI-alike messages in connectivity-AD use cases. Moreover, the ICCS team is in close cooperation with EVENTS’ OEMs partners in both the design and execution of the different experiments.

What challenges related to CCAM is EVENTS project focused on addressing?

EVENTS aims at tackling several aspects of on-board perception and decision making and their augmentation with connectivity and self-assessment capabilities. For this purpose, it is heavily investing on the development of novel machine learning algorithms for scene recognition and motion prediction that would extend the robustness of autonomous driving functions under different environmental conditions. Moreover, through the challenging process of fusing multiple sensors like cameras, radars, lidars, GPS and map data as well as through the development of multi-agent based Collective Perception algorithms, EVENTS intends to significantly augment the perception generated by a single agent. Finally, through the development of robust recognition and motion prediction of Vulnerable Road Users (VRUs), EVENTS has the ambition of decreasing false detections and non-detections by at least 10%. All of the above challenges, including several more, are tackled in three use cases associated with VRUs, unstructured road environment and adverse weather conditions.

From your perspective, what are the major technological advancements that EVENTS is bringing to the field of perception and decision-making for real-time CAV operation?

EVENTS project plans, and has already started doing so, to contribute in several different technological areas related to CCAM. With particular focus on safety, EVENTS is expecting to reduce critical cases where CAVs are involved by 10% as well as previously mentioned limit false detection and non-detections of VRUs by at least 10%, thus significantly improving the safety, security, robustness and resilience of CCAM technologies and systems. These advancements will also increase the trustworthiness of road users towards CCAM. Moreover, in EVENTS, advanced environment and traffic recognition and prediction algorithms are being developed that would enable CAVs to take the appropriate course of action in a real-world environment. Last but not least, a dedicated cost-benefit analysis study has been designed for determining cost-efficient sensor suites, aiming at providing a roadmap towards more affordable CAVs.

Anything else you would like to mention or highlight?

ICCS, as a research institute, always strives to produce cutting-edge research. As such, EVENTS has provided a collaborative testbed where ICCS perception and prediction expertise is coupled with decision making expertise of other partners and on which a mixed environment testing is taking place. ICCS research vehicle is actively involved in the EVENTS testbed enriching the project’s diverse range of demo cars and test platforms. The vehicle is already being used in an innovative hybrid experiment in which information is exchanged between a simulation environment and the vehicle (including CARLA agents, a virtual RSU module implemented in ROS and a vehicle located in ICCS campus and communicating with CARLA test environment in real time), thus enabling us to run multiple multi-agent occlusions generating scenarios that would otherwise not be possible, due to various reasons but primarily due to safety concerns.

Dr Angelos Amditis,

Research & Development Director, ICCS/NTUA

Director of I-SENSE Research Group

EVENTS Scientific coordinator