Dependable Connected Systems

Connected systems with edge, fog and cloud networks bring many uncertainties

The demand for new and more complex applications is constantly growing. By moving individual systems to the cloud or adjacent edge nodes, the overall system becomes more flexible, resource-intense functions are easier to implement and life cycle management improves.

With higher level systems in which many individual systems interact, the architecture must take into account the fluctuating quality of the connections and react accordingly. Especially in dynamic environments where new participants such as devices, machines, applications or networks are constantly added or removed, permanent adaptation is imperative.

During the development phase, the ecosystem consisting of end-user devices (smartphones, connected vehicles…) and edge/fog/cloud networks can be used as a test system only with extensive effort. On the other hand, testing in a real environment is time and cost consuming. Furthermore, edge clouds have not been available for commercial use to date.

Despite the many uncertainties, software architectures must ensure that the complex overall system functions in a dependable manner. Especially when it comes to safety-critical functions, strict requirements must be adhered to, such as the real-time capability, availability and dependability of the connected functions.

Connected systems enable flexible control functions in industrial and vehicle applications

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Current service principles such as infrastructure-as-a-service, platform-as-a-service and software-as-a-service, together with proven cloud structures, yield a new paradigm for implementing control functions, such as in vehicle systems or industrial control environments.

This had led to the transfer of known cloud computing concepts into production environments as part of the digitalization of the manufacturing industry and the emergence of the industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). These centralized solutions make it possible to develop new applications, such as the preventive maintenance and optimized maintenance of equipment and machines.

Even for real-time-critical control functions currently found in vehicle or industrial control systems and mobility solutions for example, shifting functions to an edge, cloud or fog network offers the advantage that more intelligent and flexible control services can be implemented.

Fraunhofer IKS develops dependable and safe connected systems

In order to bring the benefits of connected systems to bear, especially in safety-critical environments such as manufacturing or the automobile industry, the Fraunhofer Institute for Cognitive Systems IKS researches and develops various approaches aimed at improving the real-time capability, availability and safety of connected systems. Fraunhofer IKS offers services such as:

  • Evaluating distribution concepts for edge-, fog- and cloud-based applications
  • Validation concepts and reference architectures for dependable, distributed applications
  • Simulation of distribution scenarios in a virtual exploration space
  • Methods for monitoring and predicting  connection quality, such as in wireless systems based on LTE, 802.11p or 5G
  • Methods for adapting software to various quality-of-service levels (QoS)
  • Harmonized fail-operational concepts for end-to-end architectures (E2E)