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Advanced Systems Engineering

Advanced Systems Engineering describes a new approach to the development of tomor-row's intelligent technical systems.

Digitalization is considered to be todays preeminent driver of change. It offers fascinating potential benefits for the industry, but it also changes the market services of tomorrow and the way they are developed. The interplay of disciplines such as electronics, computer science and mechanical engineering is becoming more important than ever. At the same time, it is important to closely coordinate the four main tasks of product development - strategic product planning, product development, service development and production system development - and to drive them forward across disciplines. Classical development methods quickly reach their limits in the development of tomorrow's systems.

Advanced Systems Engineering has the potential to integrate those disciplines and diverse aspects of product development and to form a sound basis for a compellingly required holistic product development methodology in the age of digitalization. The so-called Advanced Systems have four characteristics (Fig. 1):

Fig. 1: The four central features of Advanced Systems

1) Autonomy: Advanced Systems independently solve complex tasks within a specific application domain. To achieve this, these systems must be able to act expedient without remote control or further human assistance. For example, the basis for actuator control can be based on a system-internal environment model that allows the system to react to new incidents during operation and to learn new actions. Numerous technological building blocks are required for this, such as sensor fusion, semantic explanatory models or planning procedures.

2) Dynamic networking: The degree of networking of systems will increase. This will result in new, more complex systems whose functionality exceeds the sum of functionalities of the individual systems. Depending on the overall system objective, the system boundaries, interfaces and roles of the individual systems will vary. The networked system, which increasingly operates in a global dimension, will no longer be controllable exclusively by global control, but rather a globally desired behavior must also be achieved by local strategies. Since we assume that these individual systems can act autonomously from each other and are developed independently or by different providers, we speak of a System-of-Systems (SoS).

3) Socio-technical interaction: The technological development presented here also opens up new perspectives in the interaction between man and machine. The corresponding systems will adapt flexibly to the needs of users and provide context-sensitive support. Furthermore, they will be able to explain themselves and offer the user options for action. Interaction will increasingly be multimodal (e.g. speech and gestures) and based on new technologies (e.g. augmented reality or holograms). This leads to novel socio-technical systems. Against this background, the question is not so much which tasks replace human beings, but which new tasks or which familiar tasks can be solved in a new way by augmentation, i.e. the expansion of human abilities through machine intelligence.

4) Product service systems: Product service systems (also known as hybrid service bundles) are based on a close integration of material and services and offer customer-oriented problem solutions. The benefits of new types of systems are generally generated by data-based services that include the collection, processing and evaluation of data. For example, the evaluation of the data of a production plant can lead to a prognosis of machine failure, on the basis of which further services such as preventive maintenance and automatic ordering of spare parts can be initiated.

In order to meet the challenges posed by the development of Advanced Systems, our research focuses are therefore divided into two areas: Strategic Planning and Innovation Management and Systems Engineering (Fig. 2).

Fig 2: Main research areas of the Advanced Systems Engineering Group