Adaptive Software

Autonomous systems must be adaptable

It’s becoming increasingly important for autonomous systems to have the ability to adapt to new environments and react in real-time based on their own current performance. The systems must also be able to adapt at runtime when critical components fail in order to guarantee safe and dependable behavior in each situation. If full functionality is not achieved through adaptation, the system should be designed to gradually adjust the scope and quality of its functionality through graceful degradation in order to yield the highest performance without sacrificing functional safety.

Embedded systems must be expandable

In the future, there must be a possibility to modify or expand systems once they have been sold, so that they can be adapted to newly-identified safety requirements or to allow the implementation of new business models with »function on demand«. Updates and upgrades place high demands on software architectures, especially when safety-critical functions are involved. The possibility to retrofit legacy systems with new functions also allows them to be used in a sustainable and flexible manner.

Fault-tolerant and expandable adaptive systems for Industry 4.0 and autonomous driving


Adaptive systems are required wherever fault tolerance and expandability plays a role. These systems are used in fields of applications such as agriculture and construction machinery, autonomous driving, Industry 4.0 and medical technology.   

Fraunhofer IKS develops adaptive embedded systems

So that adaptivity is guaranteed, and to ensure that legacy systems can continue to be expanded and modified, the Fraunhofer Institute for Cognitive Systems IKS offers a wide range of services such as:

  • designing, validating and developing methods for dynamic and adaptive software architectures 
  • developing service-oriented architectures (SOA) for embedded systems
  • developing reference architectures for dynamic function allocation
  • implementing safety requirements related to a system’s functionality update and upgrade capability

With its methods and tools, Fraunhofer IKS furthermore supports its customers with the generation of modular safety verifications and the continuous deployment of safety functions. This allows the quick adaptation of software and function statuses, in addition to the creation of extremely short certification intervals.

Systems can also be expanded with external functions by connecting and incorporating edge, fog or cloud platforms, thus making »graceful upgrades« for adaptive end-to-end architectures possible.


2018 Manderscheid, Martin; Weiß, Gereon; Knorr, Rudi:
Verification of network end-to-end latencies for adaptive ethernet-based cyber-physical systems
2017 Weiß, Gereon; Schleiß, Philipp; Drabek, Christian; Ruiz, Alejandra; Radermacher, Ansgar:
Safe adaptation for reliable and energy-efficient E/E architectures
2016 Weiß, Gereon; Schleiß, Philipp; Drabek, Christian:
Towards flexible and dependable E/E-architectures for future vehicles
2013 Weiß, Gereon; Grigoleit, Florian; Struss, Peter:
Context modeling for dynamic configuration of automotive functions
2013 Zeller, Marc; Prehofer, Christian; Krefft, Daniel; Weiß, Gereon:
Towards runtime adaptation in AUTOSAR