Wireless real-time communication via light

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In automation, messages often have to be transmitted in the microsecond range, for example to synchronize machines with each other. Until now, real-time data transmission has been carried out via cable using special fieldbus systems. This makes it unsuitable for mobile applications in industrial robots and automation technology. Fraunhofer IPMS has combined Li-Fi and Time Sensitive Networking to enable wireless real-time and deterministic data transmission. This allows mobile applications such as industrial robots or dynamic manufacturing cells to communicate wirelessly and in real time via the TSN standard.

“Li-Fi is a technology for wireless data transmission using light and offers the possibility to realize transmission times in the microsecond range. In addition, the data connection with Li-Fi is reliable and offers consistent quality,” explains Dr. Alexander Noack, head of development at Fraunhofer IPMS. “For real-time and deterministic wireless data communication, Li-Fi is therefore an ideal medium. In this way, Time Sensitive Networking can also be implemented without using cables.”

Time Sensitive Networking (TSN) extends previous Ethernet standards to include deterministic and real-time data transmission through a shared network. High bandwidth and guaranteed cycle times of less than one millisecond are required, especially in the field of modern production. Time-critical and prioritized control of data streams is essential for this.

“Until now, real-time capable data transmission for TSN was cable-based,” Dr. Noack further explains. “With today’s radio standards such as 4G, LTE,W-LAN or even the future radio standard 5G, required latency times from automation in the microsecond range are not achievable. That’s why Fraunhofer IPMS is integrating TSN into a Li-Fi hotspot.”

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