30 million for researchers to make smart technology even smarter

The Swedish Foundation for Strategic Research (Stiftelsen för strategisk forskning, SSF) has given SEK 30 million in a grant to a research project at Linköping University. The research is to come up with new methods for developing software for “smart” technology used, for example, in the vehicle industry.

Image illustrating computer programming with a number of different symbols. peshkov

On 7 April, it was announced which research projects had received grants from the SSF Future Software Systems programme. The programme has a pot of in total SEK 200 million, which has now been shared between six projects. One of these projects is based at the Department of Computer and Information Science (IDA) at Linköping University. The project has received a grant of SEK 30 million. Christoph Kessler, professor of computer science, is the one behind the grant application. Since 2015, he has been head of division for Software and Systems (SAS).

“I’m naturally thrilled. The competition for these grants is intense, and it means a lot for me and for my group here at IDA to have got one”, he says.
It’s good news for him and his colleagues, who were also applicants. They are Mikael Asplund, associate professor; Niklas Carlsson, associate professor, Zebo Peng, professor, and Soheil Samii, adjunct senior lecturer.

“Their participation has been crucial in defining a very ambitious and multi-faceted project in which we have really needed everybody’s expertise, and where we complement each other well”, says Christoph Kessler.

Complex challenges

The project which the researchers will work on comes in the trail of the accelerating digital transformation of Swedish industry and society. It is about coming up with methods for developing, organising and adapting the complex software that governs “smart” technology. The software is intended to realise computation that is energy-effective and data-intensive, at the same time as meeting the requirements often placed on security and real-time technological solutions.

“Smart” technology requires software that controls and coordinates complex distributed computer systems that consist of connected devices, sensors, machines, networks and computing resources for computation and storage. But these data sources – such as sensors, mobile devices etc – can only offer limited computing power, due, for example, to limited battery time. One solution is to delegate computing tasks to central, cloud-based resources, but this has its limits too, as these resources may not respond in real-time.

“This can, therefore, be a problem with things like autonomous vehicles, which depend on a stable connection. That is why cloud-based solutions can be ineffective, and may be more exposed”, says Christoph Kessler.

New methods

That is why the researchers at LiU want to develop new and more effective, autonomous methods for designing, organising and automatically adapting software to complex and heterogenous “device-edge-computing-systems”, i.e., situations involving many actors and applications/services, and in which there are competing requirements, with no recourse to centralised control.

The researchers also aim to demonstrate the potential of the technology in four areas of strategic importance for Swedish industry and software-intensive products: computer networks and their uses, smart electricity grids, smart aviation and smart cars.

“I’m looking forward to this exciting and interesting project. Of course, the project will also have a positive effects on education at Linköping University, for example through new elements and guest lectures on our courses, and new master’s degree projects”, says Christoph Kessler.

The project will fund four new doctoral projects at IDA over the course of five years.

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