For the fully autonomous and connected vehicle to become a reality one day, and thus meet current social, economic and environmental challenges, research and innovation efforts must be pursued mainly on the perception and analysis of the environment and communication between vehicles and with their environment.
This affects many areas of electronics, such as sensors, artificial intelligence, telecommunications and connectivity, localization, data processing and fusion, cyber security...
The IEMN benefits from the fertile regional ground in the field of transport, both at the industrial and academic levels. Indeed, the Hauts-de-France region is very involved in research on sustainable and autonomous transport and mobility, mainly rail and automotive. The current research landscape includes a number of players, including the Railenium Technological Research Institute (IRT), the i-trans competitiveness cluster, and the Land Transport & Mobility Research Federation (FR TTM).
By contributing to a large extent to this research, IEMN is fully involved in the transport of tomorrow. The financing and structuring of this work through the regional mechanisms mentioned above, but also through national (ANR, FUI) or European (H2020, CEF) projects.
IEMN's actions can be classified into four themes, involving 6 research groups:

  • Intelligent transport, in-vehicle communication systems, associated cybersecurity issues, AI for perception and identification of traffic conditions
  • Non-destructive testing and characterization and structural health testing by ultrasonic methods, characterization of interfaces, surfaces and coatings, design of sensors, instrumentation and associated signal processing
  • Diagnosis of on-board wired networks: Detection and localization of faults especially from the communication signal
  • Technological developments in (micro)sensors and actuators, functional materials and MEMS/NEMS technologies for energy conversion and recovery, flow control, etc.

These activities are based on state-of-the-art research platforms. They also rely on a common team (e-COST) between the IEMN and the Laboratoire Électronique Ondes et Signaux pour les Transports of the Université Gustave Eiffel.

To achieve autonomous and sustainable mobility, IEMN is working on the following challenges:

Key Challenge 1: Vehicular Communications for Intelligent Transportation 

Communications in vehicular networks are gaining more and more importance in the scientific community. These networks are nowadays used in a multitude of application domains ranging from intelligent autonomous driving to the management of vehicle convoys. The need for these systems is expected to increase considerably in the coming years due to the intensive urbanization of cities, the high energy cost and environmental impact of current transportation means, the increasingly high requirements in terms of road safety and user experience (comfort, infotainment), etc.

Managing communications between vehicles and the network infrastructure poses many technical constraints such as the requirement for high reliability and ultra-low latency in the transmission of commands, a high level of communication security, and the need for a high degree of interoperability with other wireless or mobile networks, to name a few.

Key Challenge 2: Diagnosis of embedded wireline networks

In the context of intelligent or even autonomous vehicles, we are witnessing an increase in the number of on-board computers providing advanced driving assistance functions to assist or even replace the driver (cruise control, braking assistance, automatic parking, etc.). These computers control and command different systems thanks to a set of sensors and actuators distributed in the vehicle, and exchange data between them thanks to communication networks. This leads to a high complexity of energy and communication networks, resulting in a large number of wired connections and conductors, a complexity that has further increased with the emergence of autonomous electric vehicles. This increases the risk of faults occurring that could affect the integrity of the vehicle and the safety of passengers.

The objective of the research is to develop a fault detection and health monitoring system for autonomous vehicles, including diagnostic aspects and maintenance decisions.

Key Challenge 3: Non-destructive testing and characterization and structural health monitoring using ultrasonic methods

Non-destructive testing (NDT) is an integral part of production and maintenance operations in all industrial sectors where the reliability of components and equipment is a priority. In the transportation field in particular, the stakes of reducing consumption by structural lightening without affecting safety and reliability in service are of increasing importance. Ultrasound-material interactions can be used to control and characterize the durability of materials and coatings, but also to allow a follow-up in service or "monitoring" of structures and assemblies. The research work focuses on the physics of ultrasonic propagation, the design of sensors and transducers adapted to a wide range of frequencies and signal processing based on the underlying physics. In this context, the IEMN researchers work in particular on the following topics

  • Characterization of the adhesion of coatings and their defects by surface and guided waves generated and detected by laser sources.
  • Design of interdigital surface wave sensors for adhesion and layer condition analysis
  • Detection / monitoring of damage or corrosion by innovative ultrasonic methods with low material resources (analysis of reverberation codas or noise correlation).
  • High frequency ultrasonic characterization of heat transfer fluids for the cooling of embedded systems.

Key Challenge 4: Technological developments in (micro) sensors and actuators, functional materials and MEMS/NEMS technologies

The development of embedded systems in vehicles requires the design of new principles of efficient and integrable sensors and actuators. In this context, the implementation, characterization and optimization of innovative functional materials with low environmental impact are an essential research topic.

Thus, IEMN researchers are working on the development of environmentally friendly electroactive and piezoelectric materials (e.g. lead-free) for energy conversion, or the realization of micro-actuators or micro-sensors. Applications range from the reduction of vehicle fuel consumption by actively controlling aerodynamic characteristics through micro-actuation to the realization of flexible IDT-SAW micro-transducers or transducers for high frequency ultrasonic characterization of contact interfaces or coatings. The IEMN has all the necessary technological means to do this: clean room microfabrication processes (lithography, wet etching, physical etching, lift-off) on thin films or massive materials.