Fraunhofer Heinrich-Hertz-Institut successfully completed an industrial demonstration of LiFi communication at a BMW plant in Munich. After the completion of the BMBF-funded project OWICELLS, the project presented a demonstration of Li-Fi communication with a mobile robot in a 5x5m² manufacturing cell that performs customary operations of welding, folding and inspecting parts.
The robust optical wireless transmission of LiFi relies on spatial diversity meaning that is, multiple LED transmitted data and multiple photodiodes receive the data. According to Fraunhofer HHI, the system can transmit data above 100 Mbps with 5 milliseconds latency.
BMW believes that modern production techniques in the automotive industry must become more flexible to be able to adapt to individual customer requirements. Researchers are therefore investigating the use of mobile robots and tools in factories that are networked with artificial intelligence in the cloud for the Industrial Internet of Things (IoT).
LiFi Offers Multi-input Multi-Output Communication Solution
LiFi is uses LEDs and the royalty-free spectrum of visible and infrared light. While the optical data transmission requires a line-of-sight connection, this line of sight can not be disturbed by radio transmissions.
“The multi-input multiple-output (MIMO) -based Li-Fi solution enables reliable mobile communication in production while maintaining low latency,” commented Dr. Volker Jungnickel, Project Coordinator at the Fraunhofer HHI, the developments.
“Li-Fi can take the strain off the dense Wi-Fi spectrum and realize uninterrupted, mobile transmission for industrial IoT. Li-Fi works reliably when typical industrial work takes place, such as spot welding with strong currents and flashes of light,” said Gerhard Kleinpeter, project manager at BMW.
The three-year project was funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) with 1.6 million euros. Project partners included companies BMW AG, evopro, and Fraunhofer HHI acted as the project coordinator. The company OSRAM and the University of Applied Sciences Munich were associated partners or subcontractors.