The cutting edge 5G research carried out at the University of Oulu is boosted by significant funding granted to its research team for the development of research on artificial intelligence. Around the 5G network, new technologies and applications are already being developed in which low latency and security are critical factors in settings such as hospitals, industry or steering of vehicles.
The research team tests the new opportunities offered by edge computing enhanced by artificial intelligence: “This project gives us an excellent opportunity to build a cutting-edge testing environment at the University of Oulu campus for researchers, companies and students alike,” says Professor Jukka Riekki. The new funding was granted by the Technology Industries of Finland Centennial Foundation and the Jane and Aatos Erkko Foundation.
New applications for edge computing enhanced by artificial intelligence
The onset of the 5G network seems inevitable, which is exactly why this research project may provide Finnish companies with significant competitive edge. The exact time when 5G becomes generally available is not quite certain yet, but the first 5G networks are expected to be set up in Finland in 2018.
Edge computing emerges as an increasingly important way to process data from networked devices and sensor networks into information that applications can utilise. Over the recent years, data has been processed in clouds on a centralised basis, but edge computing brings computing servers closer to the edge of the network, for example, locally next to 5G base stations. This makes it possible to transfer data faster from devices and systems to the servers that process it. Low latency is especially important in the control of industrial processes and machines. Edge computing also enhances data security: for example, industrial facilities or hospitals no longer need to transfer data far into the cloud, but instead the data will remain within the own facility.
Edge computing also make applications in mobile devices work faster. If a large number of people are downloading the same video, all of them need not download it from remote servers that may be located even as far as in the United States. Cloud computing and data transfer also consume a lot of energy. With edge computing, a video can be first downloaded to a computing server at a nearby base station, from which it can then be distributed to mobile devices. On the other hand, if content is produced in the same place, it need not be transferred to the cloud at all.
New edge computing innovations give a boost to Finnish companies
Researchers at the University of Oulu seek to provide companies with example solutions that make use of edge computing and artificial intelligence. Artificial intelligence can learn the variations in data volumes and user movements, for example, and help servers to prepare for them by distributing the computing load and downloading content in advance. This way, networks will not be blocked by large user and data volumes, but instead the applications will run smoothly.
The principal aim of the project is to help Finnish companies in utilising new generation technology. The test environment will be provided with a first-generation commercial Mobile Edge Computing (MEC) system during 2017, with computing servers directly connected to 5G base stations. MEC is a standardised edge computing definition, and computing servers that comply with it are developed by companies such as Nokia. The research team designs artificial intelligence methods and extensions to the MEC system in collaboration with companies. An example application will be set up for the test environment to provide companies with tangible information on the opportunities offered by edge computing and artificial intelligence.
The ‘Future Makers’ funding programme strengthens the competitiveness of technology industries. Arranged for the second time, the funding programme received 130 ideas for new research openings this year. The criteria for awarding funding included ambitiousness and multidisciplinary approach. The amount of funding awarded to the research project headed by professors Jukka Riekki, Mikko Sillanpää and Mika Ylianttila of the University of Oulu totalled EUR 500,000.
Of the research teams at the University of Oulu, the participants of the new ‘Edge computing enhanced by artificial intelligence’ project include the Centre for Ubiquitous Computing (UBICOMP), the Centre for Wireless Communications (CWC) and the Research Unit of Mathematical Sciences, supported by research and business networks and the test infrastructures Analytics +, SuperIoT and 5G Test Network.