Be it telephones, navigation systems, video games, or printers – it is the electronics that increasingly decide the success of a product. Electronic devices should be able to communicate with one another and be small and inexpensive. Intelligent clothing, driver support systems and mobile phones with embedded cameras and laptop functions are just a few examples that come to mind that include embedded systems: electronic systems that are incorporated into larger systems or environments. In the Priority Programme "Design and Design Methodology of Embedded Systems" funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (German Research Foundation, DFG), scientists devised methods for the development of current and future embedded systems in 14 projects. The primary objective was to include as many intelligent functions as possible in a single system with optimum interaction between the various components, while reducing the size and minimising electricity consumption. After six years of research work, the scientists have now submitted their final report.
The group collaborated with 34 companies and twelve university and research institutes outside the Priority Programme. Examples of the results are to be found in the automotive electronics sector. In motor vehicles embedded systems are expected to contribute to improved safety, driving characteristics, and comfort. Taking a braking system as an example, one project at the University of Frankfurt am Main developed a method for comparing various versions of the system, in order to optimize it on the basis of the results.
In a project at the University of Tübingen's Wilhelm Schickard Institute, the emphasis was on the pre-commissioning test. Under the keyword "emulation", the imitation of real conditions, scientists developed a reliable tool, the Spyder emulation environment, that can be used in cars.
Taking a train braking system as their example, a project at the Institute for Computer Science in Munich developed a mathematical technique for describing systems at the interface between discrete and continuous processes. Discrete processes are those that can be characterised by fixed values. Continuous processes can take any value within a range. Hybrid embedded systems, embedded systems combining both properties, therefore require a special description, which was developed in this project.
Embedded systems also play an important role in industrial automation. A project at the Technical University of Ilmenau dealt with the modelling of multiple coordinate drives. This modelling contributes primarily to improving the verification of timing conditions.
At the Institute for Information Processing Technology in Karlsruhe, scientists worked on a unified design methodology for embedded systems. This methodology covers the development of a system from the concept to implementation. The scientists successfully tested their methodology on an automatic sampler for a chemical analysis system.
The DFG provided a total of €8.6 million in funding to Priority Programme 1040 between 1997 and 2003. During this period more than 100 publications and over 20 dissertations were written.
Further information: The final report of Priority Programme 1040 (in German only) can be downloaded from http://www.dfg.de/aktuelles_presse/publikationen/verzeichnis/download/abschlussbericht_spp1040.pdf.
Additional information about the programme can be obtained from the programme coordinator, Professor Dr. rer. nat. Wolfgang Rosenstiel, Wilhelm Schickard Institute of Informatics, University of Tübingen, Sand 13, 72076 Tübingen, phone: 49-7071-29-75482, e-mail: email@example.com,
or Dr. Gerit Sonntag, DFG Programme Officer for Computer Science, phone: 49-228-885-2499, e-mail: Gerit.Sonntag@dfg.de.
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