Embedded systems play an important role in many commercial products that we today take for granted, for example cars, washing machines, toothbrushes, etc. Sometimes, these systems are used to enhance the user experience of a product, while at other times they are directly responsible for the control of safety critical functionality, such as brake system management in cars. In both cases, reliability and efficiency of embedded systems are crucial for the success of a product.
This is challenging to achieve already. However, future trends within this area, with terms as Internet of Things and Cyber-Physical Systems, reveal an even more complicated picture. With the cost of communication technology falling, future embedded systems will be increasingly interconnected, with new services and business opportunities built around the possibility to share information between the systems. This offers numerous opportunities, but also accentuates the questions of reliability and efficiency. On the other hand, if properly designed, the interconnected systems could even show to be more efficient and reliable than the individual ones. For example, if some part of functionality falls away in one product, connected systems could sometimes compensate for that until the failing product is serviced.
This is the motivation behind our work. The first phase of this work was carried out as a series of workshops together with industrial partners, with the aim of identifying challenges that may arise during the development and operation of federations of embedded systems. This will be followed up by work on generic mechanisms for simplifying the development processes and achieving positive effects of increased interaction on the robustness, quality, and efficiency of future federations of embedded systems. In the process, we will consider both software and system specific issues, such as:
- Architectural patterns
- Safety and fault handling
- Testing and verification
- Conflicting goals within a federation
- Distribution of control
- Adaptability to changing environment (for example when a system enters or leaves a federation, or software is updated), etc.
- Effects on business models and structures.
The project will seek solutions that are applicable across a range of technological domains. To reach this goal we aim to continue working closely with the industry.