Team NeCS

Overall Objectives
Scientific Foundations
Application Domains
New Results
Contracts and Grants with Industry
Other Grants and Activities

Section: Application Domains

Application domains

Closing feedback loops around Wireless sensor networks offers new challenges and new opportunities for the area of control. Several new application areas can be enabled, or enhanced if systematic methods are developed for the design of NCS. Examples include:

In particular, the team is already involved in the areas described in detail below.

Vehicular transportation systems

Car industry

Car industry has been already identified as a potential homeland application for NCS [79] , as the evolution of micro-electronics paved the way for introducing distributed control in vehicles. In addition, automotive control systems are becoming the more complex and iterative, as more on-board sensors and actuators are made available through technology innovations. The increasing number of subsystems, coupled with overwhelming information made available through on-board and off-board sensors and communication systems, rises new and interesting challenges to achieve optimal performance while maintaining the safety and the robustness of the total system. Causes of such an increase of complexity/difficulties are diverse: interaction between several control sub-systems (ABS, TCS, ESP, etc.), loose of synchrony between sub-systems, limitations in the computation capabilities of each dedicate processor, etc. The team had several past collaborations with the car industry (Renault since 1992, and Ford), and has recently initiate a new collaboration on observer design and fault diagnostics design for multi-sensor systems in Homogeneous Charge Diesel engines, in collaboration with the IFP. In addition, a new ANR project, named VOLHAND, has been started in collaboration with INRETS, JTEKT, Fondation Hopale, LAMIH, CHRU. It aims at developing a new generation of electrical power-assisted steering specifically designed for disabled and aged persons.

Intelligent transportation systems

Throughout the world, roadways are notorious for their congestion, from dense urban network to large freeway systems. This situation tends to get worse over time due to the continuous increase of transportation demand whereas public investments are decreasing and space is lacking to build new infrastructures. The most obvious impact of traffic congestion for citizens is the increase of travel times and fuel consumption. Another critical effect is that infrastructures are not operated at their capacity during congestion, implying that fewer vehicles are served than the amount they were designed for. Using macroscopic fluid-like models, the NeCS team has initiated new researches to develop innovative traffic management policies able to improve the infrastructure operations. This activity is currently focused on automatic model calibration and traffic prediction, two important items to implement efficient Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) such as traffic responsive ramp metering and varying speed limit as well as producing relevant user information. The team is currently setting up a consortium with local authorities involved in traffic management to build to a demonstrator called GTL (Grenoble Traffic Lab). One target of this activity is to transfer part of the developed technology to a start-up currently incubated at GRAIN (Grenoble incubator for high tech start-ups) named Karrus.

Underwater systems

Underwater systems, as presently used or intended by the offshore industry and marine research, are subject to severe technological constraints. In AUVs, the on-board power is limited and calls for both control and computing optimization. The links between the master and slave nodes use ultrasonic devices, which have a very low bandwidth and are subject to frequent transient loss, thus calling for sharing the decisional process among the nodes and for a robust implementation of the distributed control, taking into account the communication network features. These constraints together with the potential cost of failures make these systems good candidates for safe and flexible control, communication and computing co-design. The team already got a significant experience in this domain with a past collaboration with IFREMER and other EU projects. Currently, the projects CONNECT and FEEDNETBACK deal with this type of problems (see Sections  8.2 and  8.3 ).

Systems on chip

Achieving a good compromise between computing power and energy consumption is one of the challenge in embedded architecture of the future. This management is especially difficult for 45nm or 32nm known to be at the limit of the scalability. Automatic control loops have therefore to be designed in order to make the performance fit the requirement in order to minimize the energy loss in a context of highly unknown performance of the chip. The main objective is to control the computing power and the consumption using the voltage and frequency automatically according to the requirements of the OS. For this, appropriate sensors must be implemented on the chip and a high-performance repartition between hardware and software implementation must be made.

Computer systems

Server systems (Internet, database, news, etc.) is a very active industry in the communication area. Tuning servers is currently done with the experience and the feeling of human operators with potential problems like under-optimality or even trashing phenomena in case of bad tuning. The NeCS team has started research on that subject in collaboration with the INRIA-Sardes team for using control theory tools in closed loop server systems and especially for controlling their admission. This goes in the direction to fully autonomous servers in completely heterogeneous aggregation of servers.


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