Prof. Alexander Kölpin, alexander.koelpin(a)tuhh.de
Prof. Ralf God, ralf.god(a)tuhh.de
Prof. Bernd-Christian Renner, christian.renner(a)tuhh.de
Cyber-physical systems (CPS) are networked information-processing systems that interact directly with their surrounding physical environment. CPSs record environmental information via sensors, process this information with computer support, and in turn influence their environment via actuators. CPS are therefore in a continuous control loop and in many application areas must perform time-critical and safety-relevant calculations and communicate with other technical systems or humans across domains.
Today, CPS represent the basic technology for many "smart" products and applications worldwide. For example, they are indispensable in the fields of vehicle or aircraft construction, Industry 4.0, medical technology, automation technology, robotics or mechatronics. TUHH's research on cyber-physical systems is characterized by the fact that it covers all relevant aspects - from the sensors and actuators, the hardware and networking across the software of a CPS to their real applications and their certification.
In the area of basic research, TUHH contributes to safe and reliable CPS hardware and novel sensor technology, which must always fulfill their intended purpose over lifetimes of years or decades. Research on modern communication networks is also essential for TUHH, as today's CPS are networked systems that communicate with servers or data centers via wired connections in the stationary case or via radio links for mobile applications. Since CPS are often used in environments where there is no permanent energy supply, the design of energy-efficient and also -autonomous microsystems and communication networks also plays an important role at TUHH.
The software of CPS must also demonstrably meet stringent requirements, which is why new methods for software design, reliability analysis in harsh environments, and formal verification of safety-critical properties are being researched at TUHH. Furthermore, integrity, privacy and defense against cyber-attacks also play an important role at TUHH. CPS software is usually highly optimized to always exploit the available hardware with highest efficiency. Therefore, fundamental efficient optimization algorithms for the analysis and improvement of criteria such as real-time capability or energy consumption of CPS software are researched at TUHH. The long useful lives of CPS also require completely new operating system concepts for managing updates and variability. The interaction with the physical environment makes the control and regulation of CPS very complex. At TUHH, work is therefore being done on novel concepts and methods from the fields of machine learning and deep neural networks to achieve adaptive control methods.
Across the board, TUHH is working on engineering methods, formal techniques and computational algorithms for design, implementation, design, simulation and validation of reliable and highly efficient CPS. This basic research on CPS takes place at TUHH in constant interaction with application-oriented research in a wide variety of fields. For example, novel energy-efficient autonomous sensor systems are being developed for energy and environmental technology. Cyber-physical energy systems ensure a stable energy supply in the integrated "smart grids" of the future. For medical rehabilitation and diagnostics, specialized drives are being integrated into complex control loops for direct robotic interaction with humans. CPS also play a major role in the construction industry; at the TUHH, for example, research is being conducted into service life considerations based on formal semantic descriptions. Dynamically occurring loads on aircraft structures and their effects on the load-bearing structures are analyzed using digital twins in order to predict the service life of components. Such digital mappings are also used, for example, to research complex process chains and production lines in manufacturing. Other research activities at TUHH include autonomous aerial and (under-) water robotics, lightweight and large-scale robotics, and the field of autonomous systems in general.
The research focus Cyber-Physical Systems also plays an important role in teaching at TUHH. For example, teaching content on CPS plays a major role in the consecutive bachelor's and master's degree programs in electrical engineering, computer science engineering, mechatronics, theoretical mechanical engineering, or industrial-technical sciences. But also in the international master programs Mechatronics, Information and Communication Systems or Microelectronics and Microsystems CPS are very present at TUHH. In addition, knowledge and skills for the design of CPS are taught through basic courses on control engineering, computer science and mathematics in almost all engineering courses at TUHH.