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Intelligent Technological Systems

We focus on technical systems that are based on the interplay between engineering, science, and informatics. Typically, such systems yield products in the field of information technology, communication technology, mechanical engineering, automotive and transport engineering, and the electrical industry. The market success of products deriving from these industries will be largely determined by resource efficiency, usability, and reliability.

The technical systems of tomorrow must display resource efficiency, usability, and reliability.

  • Resource efficiency: We are guided by the principles of sustainable development, with areas of action including energy-efficient machinery and vehicles, ‘green IT’ etc.
  • Usability: Technical systems are required to possess more and more intelligent and active interfaces allowing users natural and intuitive handling. These systems will encourage modern interaction using displays, touch, gesture, or speech for flexible information processing according to the situation, as well as offering partly or wholly independent operator assistance adapted to the needs of the individual user. The systems addressed here must be able to give the user a clear explanation of why certain actions are carried out.
  • Reliability: The clearly-defined IT term comprises the availability, dependability, and security of technical systems and is an expression of their ensured confidentiality.

Digital transformation means that data handling is becoming significantly more important; new business models are being created that completely reconfigure established value chains.

This requires new approaches to designing the technical systems of the future: information technology and also non-technical disciplines such as cognitive science and neurobiology provide a wide range of methods, technologies and processes that enable sensor, actuator and cognitive functions previously only found in biological systems to be integrated into technical systems. Such systems are termed intelligent technical systems; their design, control, and realisation require new approaches and presents interdisciplinary research with new challenges.

We work with procedure models, specification and modelling techniques, design and testing methodology, IT tools for synthesis and analysis, and technological concepts, which we develop further specific to each discipline and also together in joint research projects. This contexts provides us with an outstanding profiling opportunity: we want to position ourselves as a leading institute in the interdisciplinary design of intelligent technical systems.

Structuring our research programme

We structure our research programme in the two dimensions research competencies and application areas. The dimension research competencies elucidates the emphases of our research work. The dimension application area shows the purpose for which we use our competencies in order to induce societal and economic value.

Research expertise

As an interdisciplinary research institute, we combine the research expertise of our different workgroups to achieve the jointly defined objective of designing intelligent technical systems. Our current common focus is on the following five areas:

  1. Learning capacity, adaptivity and regulation: Today, we observe the phenomenon that technical systems are working even in highly complex and dynamically changing environments, and often without central coordination. This becomes possible through the combination of traditional control engineering with modern methods from artificial intelligence and machine learning, which allow such systems to act autonomously and to adapt their behavior in a data-driven manner.
  2. Mechatronics, sensing, and communication in distributed systems: In distributed systems mechatronic components operate in a network and represent individual subsystems which communicate and cooperate with each other. Software solutions are needed which guarantee quality of service. Furthermore multi-layered software architectures are needed to achieve this goal representing an important research goal.
  3. Safety and Security: Safety properties have long been of interest in the engineering of intelligent technical systems, which is why their assurance is an essential part of current engineering methodologies. Right now the institute’s goal is to extend those methodologies such that the engineered systems will be “secure by design”, i.e., by design can withstand malicious attacks. In contrast to safety engineering, this requires a minimization of the system’s attack surface, and hence also it’s required functionality.
  4. Design methodology: The “Voice of the Customer” is at the center of a customer-oriented design methodology. Only in this way functions and services which generate added value for the customer can be identified surprising and exciting the end customer. An important target is a comprehensive model-based design environment which starts at the requirement definitions and comprises all phases of the design.
  5. Strategic planning and interaction: The consequent orientation on customer value leads to systems which excite the customer. To this end the knowledge about the way similar products are used by the customer has to be gained. On the basis of such data application scenarios are generated.

Fields of application

Here, our emphasis lies on the implementation of real technical systems offering real benefits or fulfilling real requirements. This process should be carried out in close collaboration with the business sector, thus promoting the exchange of experiences and practices and validating the tried and tested procedures we have created. The following fields of application are currently the most important from our point of view:

  1. Intelligent Technical Systems, Cyber-Physical Systems
  2. Distributed IT-Systems, Platforms
  3. Sociotechnical Systems, Markets