New month, new interview!

AUTOPILOT Interview Series is back with the 3rd episode on another interesting topic. This time, we had the opportunity to discuss with TNO, the Netherlands Organisation for applied scientific research, which is the leading partner of our project’s Dutch pilot site. Let’s start the reading!

  • Meeting TNO: introduction of the Company

TNO was founded by law in 1932 to enable business and government to apply knowledge. As an organisation regulated by public law, it is independent: not part of any government, university or company. For TNO, research and innovation do not stop at national borders. Worldwide, there is an ongoing trend of combining knowledge and application in a limited number of global knowledge hubs. The concentration of knowledge in proximity to (SME) companies, governments and NGOs, provides the necessary momentum and mass to top the global competition in the field of innovation. TNO is a major player in a growing international network comprised of leading scientific institutes, companies with ambitious development profiles, universities and other partners in knowledge. The knowledge TNO develops, integrates, will make applicable and puts into practice will only have value if we can use it to have a real social and economic impact.   The research activities concentrate on developing, integrating and applying knowledge and generate creative and practicable innovations as new products, services and processes, fully customized for business and government.

  • TNO in AUTOPILOT: what is your role?

TNO is leading partner for Dutch pilot site (Brainport) in Helmond. Brainport has facilities that are result of previous projects, which have worked on cooperative and autonomous driving. TNO is contributing to AUTOPILOT with knowledge and infrastructure: the design is made to implement control-loop solutions. And as in every control loop, its performance and stability is dependent from latency. This means that not all data is equal, which results in different locations for hosting different control functions. Implementation- wise, it means that some control functions are running in vehicle, some in MEC node, and others in cloud.

TNO has also nested composed applications, such as platooning. To explain: on highest level, the user needs to register for using service and search for potential platoons already running in preferred direction. That function is not time-critical, and therefore runs in cloud. When a vehicle gets info on a meeting point, it will ride there. When it gets into vicinity of platoon, it should join it; control is given to platoon formation application, running in MEC node. It will guide the vehicle closer to the platoon – including giving it instructions on speeding up, slowing down, changing lanes etc. Finally, when the vehicle gets in close proximity of the platoon, control is taken by the vehicle which is platoon leader, and that manages and finalizes platoon joining process.

  • Can you explain the OneM2M Ontology concept?

One of main reasons for developments in IoT is that more data will allow us to have better control of processes, or to understand them better, or to establish new dependencies between parameters, values, etc. IoT world is diverse, but there is no single IoT standard describing protocols (control and data exchange) or formats for data. This makes the creation of single system with multiple actors (like in Autopilot for autonomous driving) more difficult.

Some measures can be taken – for example, it is possible to build IWG (inter-Working Gateways) to help with protocols for exchanging data and control, but to make sense of data, ontologies and data models are needed. In computer science and information science, an ontology encompasses a representation, formal naming and definition of the categories, properties and relations between the concepts, data and entities that substantiate one, many or all domains. Data models are essential for understanding the exchanged data between different IoT platforms. Due to various reasons, and primarily because no single major standardization body has defined IoT, many different IoT solutions have been developed, each with its own data models. ETSI initially tackled this problem  for smart appliances – SAREF ( At the moment,  SAREF is being reworked to possibly cover also automotive, which is based on data models defined by Autopilot DMAG (Data Model Action Group). Within Autopilot, we have started quite early to work on a common data model. To establish faster adoption with the already ongoing developments, we have used existing data models from ETSI ITS, DATEX II and Sensoris, as the base for the Autopilot model. With partners, that same model is also introduced to oneM2M.

  • What is the perspective of an independent research organisation as TNO is about standardisation?

The goal of standardization is to create common ground and provide a way for a large number of leading companies to work together, for their own, and consumers’, benefit. This leads to interoperability of equipment, and promotes competition towards the better equipment/systems for end-users. TNO is very active in standardization bodies. It is part of our mission to achieve a ‘real social and economic impact’, which can be done with widely supported solutions and technologies, and actively contributing to standards. For Autopilot, we are using our knowledge from 3GPP (on mobile networks – 5G), ETSI MEC, SmartM2M and oneM2M.