Cyber Physical Systems
Cyber physical systems might sound like it belongs in a science fiction novel, but in fact it has the potential to change our economy to the same extent as PCs did. Abbreviated to CPS, cyber physical systems is our future - a future in the physical world of machines, equipment and devices is networked with the virtual world of the internet or cyberspace. Early signs of this quantum leap can be been in navigation devices, which already provide real-time data on traffic jams and calculate the movement profiles of other road users to improve the quality of alternative route suggestions. The example indirectly demonstrates that the foundations for cyber physical systems are already in place.
- According to some estimates, almost 98 percent of today’s microprocessors are employed to control machines, equipment and devices. Electronics is a key determinant of the functionality of products in both the workplace and at home.
- In terms of ICT, the internet has networked the world. More and more business is transacted online and services are increasingly provided over the internet. Even software and computing itself looks set to become virtual (cloud computing).
- The next step will be the networking of machines, equipment and devices via the internet. Once this takes place, this part of the physical world can no longer be controlled by defined processes or organized centrally. Intra-communication will be largely subject to control strategies that are highly dependent on context and situation. Workpieces will find their own way through the manufacturing process and respond flexibly with other workpieces if a machine fails.
According to a policy paper by the German Academy of Technical Sciences, science and research is facing a number of new challenges: What is the best means of handling heterogeneous, networked objects, that require a holistic, systemic approach and interdisciplinary cooperation between engineering, electronics and IT. How can cyber physical systems be mastered technically, how should they be built, controlled and serviced? (see, in German, Manfred Broy (Editor): Cyber-Physical Systems. Innovationsmotoren für Mobilität, Gesundheit, Energie und Produktion (acatech POSITION), Heidelberg u.a.: Springer Verlag 2011.)
Fraunhofer IZM is advancing this area by developing technologies for:
- Wireless sensor technology
- Application-specific sensor packaging