Autonomy Institute pilot enables smart cities

  • March 22, 2021
  • Steve Rogerson

The Autonomy Institute has launched an intelligent infrastructure pilot with Texas Military Department to enable autonomous vehicles, smart cities and connected things.

The Autonomy Institute is a cooperative research consortium focused on advancing and accelerating autonomy and AI at the edge. It plans to launch the Public Infrastructure Network Node (Pinn) pilot at Texas Military Department in Austin, Texas. This will serve as the programme for developing autonomous technology at the edge with plans to expand from Austin to other major US cities and then globally.

The Pinn is a unified open standard incorporating 5G wireless, edge computing, radar, lidar, enhanced GPS and intelligent transportation systems (ITS) as a single unified system. Pinns are designed to deliver a multitude of edge sensors and computing capabilities urgently needed to support autonomy and IoT.

Pinn is seen as a breakthrough in digital infrastructure, solving the problem of delivering low-latency computing and sensors at the edge while avoiding unsightly urban infrastructure sprawl. Connected and autonomous vehicles, in particular, and many other smart cities applications require sub-ten milliseconds latencies and high bandwidths to operate safely. Pinns are placed 300 metres away from each other, appear similar to a light post, and are filled with sensors, communications and edge computing equipment.

“Investment in a 21st century intelligent and autonomous infrastructure is among the highest priorities for stimulating economic expansion, national security and job growth,” said Jeffrey DeCoux, chairman of the Autonomy Institute. “Edge computing, 5G wireless, intelligent transportation systems, resilient alternative positioning, navigation timing and resilient electrical grids will drive the largest infrastructure build-out in our nation’s history. Digital Edge will drive the world economy.”

Pinn could be the critical element required to advance intelligent and autonomous technology for city resilience. Deployment of the Pinns could be as critical to cities as roads, power, telecommunications and water infrastructure. Pinn clusters will be deployed within cities, on highways, across military installations, and in rural communities to accelerate the nation’s digital infrastructure build-out.

Pinns are designed to deliver a multitude of edge sensors and computing capabilities to empower cities into the future. Future applications and services will require a new computing infrastructure that delivers low-latency networks and high-performance computing at the extreme edge of the network. Without the ability to deliver low latency, multi-tenant high performance computing and sensor arrays, the USA could lack the critical infrastructure upon which any future economy could be built. The goal is to have tens of thousands of Pinns deployed by mid-2022.

Autonomy Institute technology partners distributed cloud service company EDJX and Atrius Industries, a specialist in developing intelligent and autonomous applications, have aligned to deliver technology at the edge for Pinn pilot users, including transportation and military bodies.

“The future of Industry 4.0 depends on a plurality of multi-tenant sensors and processing capabilities located close to users, machines and devices,” said John Cowan, EDJX CEO. “EDJX and Atrius are actively developing real-world solutions at the edge with the world’s foremost innovators and thinkers in the field of autonomous and connected systems as part of the Pinn pilot release.”

Pinns will be deployed first in Austin, Texas, and Texas Military Department, Camp Mabry. EDJX and Atrius are collaborating to develop edge-enabled IoT software and data technology on the EDJX platform installed on a plurality of interconnected Pinns consistent with the direction of the Texas Military Department for the pilot launch.

The Autonomy Institute, Atrius, and EDJX are building out a priority sequence of city-by-city rollouts. The first Pinns are scheduled to come online in Q2 of this year. Pinns will enable optimised traffic management, autonomous cars, industrial robotics, autonomous delivery, drones that respond to 911 calls, automated road and bridge inspection, and smart city and national security applications.

Deployment of Pinn infrastructure will entail coordination between public and private organisations. Local governments are struggling with permitting disparate systems that need to be a single open and intelligent infrastructure. The Autonomy Institute is working with Raleigh, Denver, Austin, Dallas and Pittsburgh, who are already exploring the impact of Pinn infrastructure. Deployment will allow activation of compute and sensors and 5G equipment, foundational to building critical applications at the edge.

Funding should come through private industry and public sector collaborators. Pinn is also supported by technology innovators, including HPE and several others, contributing their technology and expertise.

“The future of computing is at the edge, processing data where it is generated and sensed, enabling immediate insights that will inform decisions,” said Bill Burnham, HPE CTO for the US public sector. “The Autonomy Institute has taken a major leap forward into this future and we are delighted to be involved with the initiative.”

EDJX is a privately held company based in Raleigh, North Carolina.