Research team

Co-Design of Cyber-Physical Systems (Cosys-Lab)

Expertise

My main research focus is on model-based development methods for embedded real-time systems. This entails model-based design, MiL- up to HiL-testing, formal modelling of embedded platforms, heterogeneous embedded platforms, deployment space exploration, design for reliability and functional safety. The main application domains are automotive and mechatronics.

Flexible multi-domain design for mechatronic systems (Flexmosys_SBO). 01/01/2022 - 31/12/2025

Abstract

The Flexmosys project focusses on the co-design between multiple domains (such as structural component design, control design, software design, embedded design, …) for the development of mechatronic products. In order to develop improved mechatronic products (machines, vehicles, ...) in a shorter development time (by fewer iterations), this project aims at a cross-domain system model as the enabler for a more efficient collaboration environment between the different development teams. The project will therefore develop designer-centric methods and tools supporting the multi-domain development for these mechatronic systems. Starting from model-based design techniques available in the project team (such as ontological reasoning, co-simulation, parameter identification, sensitivity analysis and design space exploration), we will build methods and tools that will detect sensitivities of design choices from one domain to another, assure a consistent design across the involved development teams, and that allow for computationally efficient product optimization across the different engineering domains. The developed methods and tools will be validated on two industry-relevant demonstrators: an automotive electrical drivetrain and a high-performance drone. Eight companies have committed to participate in the Flexmosys user group. From the project results, they will ultimately benefit from fewer integration faults, a better overall design, visual information about the system's sensitivity on design choices, and more trustworthy system models and component models.

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  • Research Project

Efficient testing of control software (EFFECTS_ICON). 27/07/2021 - 31/08/2028

Abstract

The time and effort in the verification & validation of control software drastically increases, especially in the later stages. Many bugs are found late in the development lifecycle, companies face a high-level of regression, huge time losses for root-cause analysis, bug fixes, and retesting. As a result companies miss important time-to-market deadlines. The solution is well known: companies need to adopt the "shift left" ideology and frontload testing earlier in the development cycle where tests are easier to automate. While the benefits are well described, and many automation tools are available, companies fail to transition to a "shift left" test approach. To solve this, the EFFECTS projects aims to develop a holistic transition approach that works on two fronts, (i) a reduction of the current effort spent on testing to allow additional testing at earlier development phases, (ii) efficient creation of new tests well targeted to identified weak spots. The resulting framework will allow companies to smoothly transition to a "shift-left" test strategy.

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  • Research Project

Nexor - Cyber-Physical Systems for the Industry 4.0 era 01/01/2021 - 31/12/2026

Abstract

The fourth industrial revolution (Industry 4.0 as it is commonly referred to) is driven by extreme digitalization, enabled by tremendous computing capacity, smart collaborating machines and wireless computer networks. In the last six years, Nexor — a multi-disciplinary research consortium blending expertise from four Antwerp research labs — has built up a solid track record therein. We are currently strengthening the consortium in order to establish our position in the European eco-system. This project proposal specifies our 2021 - 2026 roadmap, with the explicit aim to empower industrial partners to tackle their industry 4.0 challenges. We follow a demand driven approach, convincing industrial partners to pick up our innovative research ideas, either by means of joint research projects (TRL 5—7) or via technology licenses.

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Project website

Project type(s)

  • Research Project

Dotation for the structural collaboration with Flanders Make. 01/01/2021 - 31/12/2022

Abstract

Flanders Make's mission is to strengthen the international competitiveness of the Flemish manufacturing industry on the long term through industry-driven, precompetitive, excellent research in the field of mechatronics, product development methods and advanced production technologies and by maximizing valorisation in these areas.

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  • Research Project

Framework for systematic design of digital twins (DTDesign). 01/04/2020 - 31/03/2023

Abstract

This project aims at developing a framework, comprising a methodology and supporting tools, for the systematic and efficient design of Digital Twins providing answers to two question types: (i) production parameters - product performance correlation and (ii) faults detection and diagnosis. The purpose of the framework is to support the user in choosing which data sets and models to combine and how to deploy them (Digital Twin implementation) to get an answer to the posed questions based on application specific requirements and criteria. The final goal is to use the developed framework to efficiently design Digital Twins and implement them for seven industrial use cases.

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  • Research Project

EPSim - Embedded Platform Simulator. 01/02/2020 - 31/01/2021

Abstract

When designing a complex cyber-physical system, components of the system are often designed by different engineers, each with their own expertise in a particular domain, e.g. software, control, and mechanical engineering. In later design stages, the integration of the designed components into one system needs to be performed. This integration phase however often leads to unexpected problems such that the system does not function as it was intended. The goal of this project is to develop EPSim, an engineering tool which tackles an important integration problem between embedded engineering and control engineering. EPSim will focus on the particular problem that embedded platforms introduce time delays on the signal path that is used by the control engineers. Hereto, EPSim will allow for the virtual integration of embedded components into control loops already in early stages of the design process. This will ultimately lead to optimised design processes by reducing, or even avoiding, costly design iterations. The foundations of this idea have already been developed in our lab; the related method and tool is now situated at TRL 3. The current status is attracting attention from some mechatronic companies in the framework of an ICON-project, which is an appealing starting point for further valorisation. By means of this project, we intend to further develop the method and tool towards TRL 5.

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  • Research Project

Modelling and testing for total life cycle management in mechatronics. 01/12/2019 - 30/06/2022

Abstract

The complexity and intelligence of cyber-physical systems (CPS) are continually increasing. Developers and manufacturers of large systems such as industrial printing machines, many-sided agriculture machines, high-speed weaving looms, autonomous driving cars, up to highly safe commercial airplanes are confronted with common technical challenges that span the total product's life cycle from requirements capturing over design and validation up to product family management. In the current project, we will contribute to two main aspects of the mechatronics product life cycle: managing the complexity of evolvable CPS, and system level validation. We will therefore use state of the art model-based design techniques and mutation testing techniques. The objectives of the current project can be summarised as follows: - Becoming a partner in at least one European proposal related to the above topics. To this purpose, we will focus on dedicated networking activities with industry and academia in the European networks in close collaboration with the Nexor IOF valorisation manager. We will target projects in the Digital and Industry Cluster in Pillar 2 (Global Challenges and Industrial Competitiveness), mainly in the areas Key Digital Technologies, Artificial Intelligence and Robotics, Manufacturing Technologies, and Space, as well as in the Pathfinder grants of the European Innovation Council in Pillar 3 (Open Innovation). - Refining the AnSyMo and CoSys-Lab roadmap against the use cases defined by the problem owners within the European consortia we negotiate with. To this purpose, discussions with possible partners (see item above) must lead to better insights in the industrial needs for the upcoming CPS and to better insights in the objectives of the European project types. - At least one demonstrator showing the capabilities of the Ansymo and CoSys-Lab research groups on the related topics, i.e. on consistency management, orchestration, mutation testing, fault injection.

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  • Research Project

Next level mutation testing: fewer, smarter & faster (NEXT-O-TEST). 01/01/2019 - 31/12/2021

Abstract

Software-updates are omnipresent in today's digital era and the release cycles within ICT companies are getting faster and faster. Tesla for example loads new software in its cars once every month; Amazon goes even faster and pushes changes to its servers every 12 seconds! With such fast release cycles the need for effective quality assurance is rising: software teams must take all possible steps to prevent defects from slipping into production. Today, mutation testing is the state-of-the-art technique to fully automatically assess the fault detection capacity of a software test suite. The approach is too slow for industrial adoption however. Therefore, the NEXT–O–TEST project will investigate three different ways to improve upon the state-of-the-art (fewer, smarter, and faster) to make mutation testing effective even in the presence of rapid release cycles. As such, NEXT–O–TEST will allow the NEXOR Consortium to strengthen its expertise on "quality control and test automation" and reinforce its position as a core lab within the Flanders Make research centre.

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  • Research Project

Concurrent design of control, embedded hardware and software for mechatronic and cyber-physical systems (CSE_codesign_ICON). 01/01/2018 - 31/12/2020

Abstract

General objective: The main goal of this project is to develop a design approach and the necessary computational tools that enable the concurrent design of application software, embedded software and hardware platforms, ensuring the targeted closed-loop performance of cyber physical systems. This with the aim to increase the efficiency of the design process and yet reducethe costs of the associated embedded software and hardware platforms. Concrete goals: More specifically, the innovation goals of this project are to: 1. Develop a methodology and software tools to support the concurrent design of application software and embedded platform for individual cyber-physical product variants:  - enabling both control engineers and embedded platform engineers to perform a trade-off analysis between various design choices on application and platform level in an agile manner, i.e. without long iteration loops, thereby reducing the typical development time of an embedded control application with at least 25%. - improving the cost-effectiveness of embedded platforms by at least 10%, by considering stochastic delays instead of using 'worst case' response times and bus delays, without sacrificing the stability, performance and robustness of the closed-loop behaviour. 2. Investigate the feasibility of extending the above approach with design space exploration techniques that automatically select the most optimal design alternative in terms of application/platform design choices in the large space of possible solution alternatives.  3. Develop an approach and software tools to support trade-off analysis and design space exploration for the embedded platform selection and design in the case of complete mechatronic/cyber-physical controller product lines. Building further on these methods and tools, the company partners in this project aim to realize the following targets: Atlas Copco's main goal is to create an approach, a software framework and the accompanying development tools that support their designers responsible for implementing the compressor room control to select the most appropriate software and hardware platform deployment and configuration, guaranteeing the required compressor room performance under all circumstances. Picanol wants to increase the performance and quality of its weaving machines by improving the co-design between the control software and embedded platform engineers. More specifically, Picanol wants to deploy this co-design approach to the yarn insertion subsystem of all machine variants, thereby increasing the production capacity of these variants with 2% or reducing the air consumption with the same amount. Tenneco's main goal is to select a set of embedded and power electronics hardware platforms that cost-optimally cover their complete product line of electro-magnetic shock absorbers from low-end to high-end vehicles. The approach and tools that allows to select this set of platforms should also be applicable to other Tenneco product lines. Michel Van de Wiele (MVDW) wants to select a new, durable and modular embedded hardware and software platformthat is capable of controlling today's and tomorrow's weaving machinery. Specifically, for the same loom requirements a reduction of the hardware cost by at least 10 % is targeted or with the same hardware cost, the target is to realize an increase in machine speed of 10 to 50 % or being able to deal with at least 10 % more sensors / actuators. Next to this, MVDW also aims to update their design approach and tools such that designers can easily predict a priori if the embedded controller for a particular variant

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Project type(s)

  • Research Project

Concurrent design of control, embedded hardware and software for mechatronic and cyber-physical systems (CSE_codesign_ICON). 01/01/2018 - 31/12/2020

Abstract

General objective: The main goal of this project is to develop a design approach and the necessary computational tools that enable the concurrent design of application software, embedded software and hardware platforms, ensuring the targeted closed-loop performance of cyber physical systems. This with the aim to increase the efficiency of the design process and yet reducethe costs of the associated embedded software and hardware platforms. Concrete goals: More specifically, the innovation goals of this project are to: 1. Develop a methodology and software tools to support the concurrent design of application software and embedded platform for individual cyber-physical product variants: - enabling both control engineers and embedded platform engineers to perform a trade-off analysis between various design choices on application and platform level in an agile manner, i.e. without long iteration loops, thereby reducing the typical development time of an embedded control application with at least 25%. - improving the cost-effectiveness of embedded platforms by at least 10%, by considering stochastic delays instead of using 'worst case' response times and bus delays, without sacrificing the stability, performance and robustness of the closed-loop behaviour. 2. Investigate the feasibility of extending the above approach with design space exploration techniques that automatically select the most optimal design alternative in terms of application/platform design choices in the large space of possible solution alternatives. 3. Develop an approach and software tools to support trade-off analysis and design space exploration for the embedded platform selection and design in the case of complete mechatronic/cyber-physical controller product lines. Building further on these methods and tools, the company partners in this project aim to realize the following targets: Atlas Copco's main goal is to create an approach, a software framework and the accompanying development tools that support their designers responsible for implementing the compressor room control to select the most appropriate software and hardware platform deployment and configuration, guaranteeing the required compressor room performance under all circumstances. Picanol wants to increase the performance and quality of its weaving machines by improving the co-design between the control software and embedded platform engineers. More specifically, Picanol wants to deploy this co-design approach to the yarn insertion subsystem of all machine variants, thereby increasing the production capacity of these variants with 2% or reducing the air consumption with the same amount. Tenneco's main goal is to select a set of embedded and power electronics hardware platforms that cost-optimally cover their complete product line of electro-magnetic shock absorbers from low-end to high-end vehicles. The approach and tools that allows to select this set of platforms should also be applicable to other Tenneco product lines. Michel Van de Wiele (MVDW) wants to select a new, durable and modular embedded hardware and software platformthat is capable of controlling today's and tomorrow's weaving machinery. Specifically, for the same loom requirements a reduction of the hardware cost by at least 10 % is targeted or with the same hardware cost, the target is to realize an increase in machine speed of 10 to 50 % or being able to deal with at least 10 % more sensors / actuators. Next to this, MVDW also aims to update their design approach and tools such that designers can easily predict a priori if the embedded controller for a particular variant

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  • Research Project

EMPHYSIS - Embedded systems with physical model in the production code software. 01/10/2017 - 31/01/2021

Abstract

The major goal of the project is to enhance production code of embedded control systems in automotive vehicles in order to improve the performance of the underlying system: faster and safer operation, reduced energy consumption, reduced emission and reduced maintenance costs. Additionally, cost and time for the software development of these embedded systems shall be reduced. This is achieved by providing physics-based models from modelling and simulation tools in an automated and standardized way on electronic control units (ECU). By this approach physical models predicting the behaviour of the whole operating region of the target system are used in observers/virtual sensors, model-based diagnosis, or in advanced control algorithms (e.g., inverse models, non-linear dynamic inversion, model-predictive control) on ECUs to achieve significantly better vehicle performance.

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  • Research Project

European initiative to enable validation for highly automated safe and secure systems (Enable S3). 01/06/2017 - 31/05/2020

Abstract

In this project, CoSys-Lab provides support for embedded realisations with AUTOSAR and Hardware-in-the-Loop testing. By means of practical case studies, best practices on the engineering methods and related tooling is collected. The application field is mechatronics and automotive engineering.

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  • Research Project

RAAK-MBK program "COMBINE". 01/04/2017 - 01/10/2018

Abstract

In this project, we contribute to the technology transfer of Hardware-in-the-Loop test technology for embedded systems in automotive. The focus is on process modelling of the test strategies and demonstrating them in industry-relevant applications.

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  • Research Project

TCO optimal system design for energy and power storage in dynamic load applications (EnPower_ICON) 01/01/2017 - 31/12/2018

Abstract

The goal of this project is to develop and validate a system design methodology for drivetrains and energy systems combining multiple energy sources and storages. The methodology will deliver an optimal system design in respect to TCO, Performance and Functional Safety cost.

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  • Research Project

Model based force measurements (MoForM). 01/02/2016 - 01/02/2020

Abstract

Knowledge on (internal and external) dynamic forces and torques is of crucial importance, both during the prototype development phases of mechatronic products, machines and processes, as well as during their operational lifetimes. Measuring forces is a time consuming, error-prone, expensive and often intrusive process. Furthermore, it occurs regularly that force measurements at the desired locations are prohibited due to space limitations or too harsh circumstances. The main goal of the project is to develop a breakthrough force/torque measurement technology by adopting a virtual sensing strategy. This involves the evaluation and development of single (Kalman filter based) and multistep (Moving Horizon Estimation based) estimators that combine high-fidelity physical models and physically inspired grey box models with affordable non-intrusive sensors to retrieve unknown forces in a fast (possibly real-time), accurate, in-situ and on-line manner. The targeted performance is defined in cooperation with industry and spans from real-time in-situ force estimation with a 10 Hz bandwidth and a 20 dB dynamic range to on-line in-situ force estimation with a 200 Hz bandwidth and an 80 dB dynamic range. The estimation technologies should be able to account for the non-linear dynamic effects as encountered in mechatronic drivetrains and systems.

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  • Research Project

Timing Analysis for Real-Time Embedded Multicore Software. 01/10/2015 - 30/09/2019

Abstract

Multicore processors are increasingly used in mechatronic applications and need to endorse the realtime requirements of the related embedded software. In spite of their huge processing power, certain operational conditions may arise in which they show longer software execution times than reasonably expected. In this project, we will elaborate software timing analysis techniques which will lead to better configurations of multicore platforms with respect to the software execution time and more specifically to the unexpected outliers mentioned above. To this purpose, we will propose a modelling language that will allow for a formal description of the timing properties of real-time embedded multicore software. This modelling language will enable formal methods for schedulability analysis and design space exploration methods, such that timing outliers can be eliminated by suggesting alternative configurations for the multicore platform.

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  • Research Project

Cost-effective vibroacoustic monitoring (vibmon_icon). 01/10/2015 - 31/12/2017

Abstract

The Cost effective vibroacoustic monitoring project will attempt to prove the technical and economic feasibility of cost effective vibroacoustic monitoring systems for continuous online condition and process monitoring of rotating machine elements in quasi stationary conditions. The project will make use of new opportunities enabled by the advent of cost effective sensors, like MEMS accelerometers, microphones, and microphone arrays, and cost effective embedded platforms that in combination can provide an efficient solution for continuous monitoring. The generic part of the project will assess the technical limitations of cost effective sensors compared with high-end ones and will overcome this limitations by develop novel digital signal processing algorithms for: • Automatic pre-processing and data cleaning of raw data recorded by cost-effective sensors in order to eliminate non-physical features present in the signals generated by certain cost effective sensors; • Feature extraction for fault detection and identification that can provide reliable diagnostic information and can deal the technical limitations of cost-effective sensors like limited bandwidth, high noise density, and lower sensitivity; • Online tachometer-less estimation of rotational speed in order to reduce the cost of the total solution by eliminating high precision speed sensors; • Reducing of the amount of data generated by the monitoring system while maximizing the amount of information to diminish the communication and data stream handling costs; The project will develop a technology validation platform for a cost effective vibroacoustic monitoring system including sensors, acquisition hardware, embedded processing unit and local digital signal processing software.

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  • Research Project

Next generation of heterogeneous sensor networks (NEXOR). 01/01/2015 - 31/12/2020

Abstract

This project represents a research contract awarded by the University of Antwerp. The supervisor provides the Antwerp University research mentioned in the title of the project under the conditions stipulated by the university.

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  • Research Project

Dotation for the structural collaboration with Flanders Make. 01/06/2014 - 31/12/2017

Abstract

Flanders Make's mission is to strengthen the international competitiveness of the Flemish manufacturing industry on the long term through industry-driven, precompetitive, excellent research in the field of mechatronics, product development methods and advanced production technologies and by maximizing valorisation in these areas.

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  • Research Project

MBSE4 Mechatronics. 01/01/2014 - 31/12/2017

Abstract

This project represents a research agreement between the UA and on the onther hand IWT. UA provides IWT research results mentioned in the title of the project under the conditions as stipulated in this contract.

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  • Research Project

A design process for parallel data processing in embedded systems. 01/01/2013 - 31/12/2014

Abstract

The application domain of embedded systems is in need of design processes for parallel data processing in FPGAs. This project will develop a concrete design process based on a case study of simple pattern recognition by means of a high-level synthesis tool. This will lead to new generic insights in the design process of FPGA-code, as well as the efficient development of algorithms being used in current particle physics experiments.

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  • Research Project

Study of the interaction between automotive software and its environment by means of modeling and co-simulation. 01/01/2012 - 31/12/2015

Abstract

During the development of software-intensive systems, such as automative applications, simulation is required to test models and assumptions during each phase of the development process. This project investigates techniques to support efficient and correct co-simulation of model components. This focus is on the co-simulation of the software and its environment.

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  • Research Project