29. July 2021 | Press releases:

Federal government promotes 6G research TU Braunschweig involved in research hub

In about ten years, 6G is set to revolutionise communication. 6G is to be a hundred times faster as well as more energy-efficient and stable than the current 5G standard. In order to be among the world leaders in the future mobile phone generation, the federal government is investing 250 million in four hubs for research and development. Technische Universität Braunschweig is involved in the hub “6G Research and Innovation Cluster” (6G-RIC) with four Principal Investigators (PIs): Professor Eduard Jorswieck, Professor Admela Jukan, Professor Vadim Issakov and Professor Thomas Kürner. Together with Fraunhofer HHI, they want to develop the essential key technologies and test them at an early stage.

In order for the six to be in front of the G, everything that is necessary for mobile communications needs to be rebuilt. The researchers in the 6G-RIC hub see this as a great opportunity. While, for example, German network operators can only buy their base stations as a whole, a modular structure with open interfaces would be possible for 6G. With this modular principle, not only the best possible base station could be combined from modules of different manufacturers, but the design of the latest intelligent control systems for autonomous campus networks could also be realised.

“This would open the way for science and industry to build and manage the small components of the complex network systems themselves. In addition, there would be various possibilities to expand these networks with solutions based on optimisation and artificial intelligence (AI). TU Braunschweig is leading the research activities in this hub, which bring together the different paradigms and technologies. This allows us to optimally support AI-driven applications in autonomous campus networks while also taking data intelligence aspects into account,” says Professor Admela Jukan from the Institute for Computer and Network Engineering.

The modular design creates advantages for various industrial sectors, such as the automotive industry, agriculture and the chemical industry, but also for financial service providers and banks. These benefit not only from the high performance of the optimised base station. After all, anyone who wants to operate an industrial plant using mobile radio, for example, must be able to trust the components. “The goal is to incorporate security directly into the product design. This also includes post-quantum security, i.e. realising the protection goals despite the soon to be available quantum computers. To ensure technological sovereignty in Germany and Europe, we must also invest more in the microelectronics and chip industry. A lesson to be learned from the current chip shortage,” says Professor Vadim Issakov of the Institute for CMOS Design.

Using the full potential of algorithms

In order for the modular design to be technically efficient at all, the researchers of the 6G-RIC hub rely on artificial intelligence (AI) and system-wide optimisation. Each module of the construction kit has a multitude of parameters. The complicated settings are currently still adjusted by engineers at each base station. AI is being used more and more successfully, but so far only for individual components.

“If we make AI usable across components, this can unlock great potential. In the modular structures, for example, completely new interactions could arise in the interaction of the optimised parts. Technologies could also merge dynamically. For example, if a very high availability and reliability is to be achieved, the terminal automatically connects to several access points that use different complementary technologies,” explains Professor Eduard Jorswieck, head of the Institute for Communications Technology.

A test environment for 6G by 2025

Even if 6G is introduced in 2030 at the earliest: The scientists want to start setting up test environments and demonstrators immediately. “For the development of new mobile radio standards, it is important to test new approaches under realistic conditions as early as possible. This also includes radio propagation measurements in new frequency ranges that are to be developed. In the hub, we are therefore building a test environment for 6G that will benefit both basic research and companies, and we are investigating radio propagation above 100 gigahertz,” says Professor Thomas Kürner, who researches mobile radio systems at the Institute for Communications Technology.

About the project

The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) is funding the hub “6G Research and Innovation Cluster” (6G-RIC) for four years with a total of 70 million euros. The Fraunhofer Heinrich Hertz Institute (HHI) coordinates the network of eleven universities and five non-university research institutions. Three institutes from TU Braunschweig are involved: the Institute for Communications Technology, the Institute for Computer and Network Engineering and the Institute for CMOS Design. As one of the largest research groups in the hub, TU Braunschweig has been promised funding of 4.5 million euros. This could finance up to twelve research associates and highly specialised laboratory equipment.