Professor’s portrait: A dream about self-driving cars

Alexey Vinel was inaugurated as a new Professor at the University’s Academic Ceremony in November. His research focus is on developing wireless communication technologies to support intelligent transportation systems. Like many others, he dreams of a self-driving car that works always and everywhere – the difference is that he actually works on making this a reality.

”The first time I came to Halmstad was in the autumn of 2011. I visited Edison Pignaton de Freitas, who was PhD student here at the time. He works in Brazil today. We met at a conference in Saint-Petersburg in 2009 and he promoted the University to me.”

At the time, Alexey Vinel, who started his academic career in Saint-Petersburg, worked at the Tampere University of Technology in Finland.

”I did research on vehicular networking and Sweden has a lot of related industries. This was one motivation for me to come here”, says Alexey Vinel.

A man wearing a blue cape and holding a diploma is standing in front of a screen projection. A group of other people in capes are sitting behind the man. Photo.

Alexey Vinel was inaugurated as a professor during the 2016 Academic Ceremony. Photo: Anders Andersson

Today he collaborate with for example AB Volvo, Volvo Cars, Scania, SAAB and Kapsch TrafficCom.

”Halmstad University also enables much tighter internal cooperation and interaction between different Professors, and their research groups, than I have experienced in the universities of other countries.”

New focus

His PhD was focused on performance evaluation of 4G and broadband wireless access networks with mathematic models. After the PhD, he switched focus.

”I was attracted to doing something interdisciplinary. Information technologies for transport sounded promising and were an interesting challenge.”

Alexey Vinel is working in the area of vehicular communications and networking. His research goes from signals and bits to the entire rules or agreements of how cars exchange information. This concerns also exchange between road users and the Internet as well as the different parts of road infrastructure like traffic lights, signs and roads.

”Cooperative cars talk to each other and help drivers to control the car. Cooperative autonomous cars don’t have a driver at all, but the cars might still exchange information to enable their automatic control.”

There are examples of self-driving vehicles in different parts of the world, but they are far from perfect.

”They are at the level of a few projects in trial zones. Most existing self-driving vehicles rely on video cameras and sensors, there is no communication between them and there are special conditions to make them work. They might not work in snow and you could not take them to public roads in, for example, Halmstad”, says Alexey Vinel and continues:

”The dream is to have autonomous cars anywhere and always.”

Advantages with autonomous cars are safety, comfort and efficiency, including environmental aspects.

”To drive at the proper speed without excessive movements saves fuel, and that is very attractive for transport companies.”

International network

Before he had a research group of his own, he collaborated with colleagues all over Europe as well as Canada, Brazil and China. He has built a solid international research network. This can also partly explain why he was appointed Professor at the age of 32, the youngest Professor at Halmstad University. It is quite a steep career ladder.

”Research has been my passion since my student days. The scientific world is amazing – you interact with experts all around the globe. I am happy that many of them have become my good friends.”

Text: Kristina Rörström

Alexey Vinel

Alexey Vinel was born in Saint Petersburg, Russia, in 1983. He received his PhD degree in Telecommunication Systems and Computer Networks from the Institute for Information Transmission Problems, Russian Academy of Sciences in 2007. He was awarded the Alexander von Humboldt fellowship, Germany, in 2008, and was the group leader and senior researcher at the Saint Petersburg Institute for Informatics and Automation, Russian Academy of Science. In 2010, he joined Tampere University of Technology, Finland, as a Researcher.

Alexey Vinel has been an IEEE Senior Member since 2012. He has been the chairman of several international conferences and workshops, for example ITST and Nets4Cars, and he has also been in the editorial board for top ranked scientific journals, such as IEEE Transactions on Dependable and Secure Computing and IEEE Communications Letters.

In 2013, Alexey Vinel started at Halmstad University as Guest Professor, and he was appointed Professor in 2015, 32 years old.