50 years of systems development

Technical higher education has been conducted in Linköping for 50 years. First to celebrate its 50th birthday is the Department of Electrical Engineering. “We are proud of our long tradition of excellent research, top-quality education and close collaboration”, said Jan-Åke Larsson, head of department.

ISY 50 år ISY 50 Karl Öfverström

Students and co-workers, together with invited guests, gathered to celebrate the 50th birthday with gateaux, demonstrations, presentations and discussions.

It is well known that the Department of Electrical Engineering (ISY) carries out advanced and internationally renowned research in fields such as computer vision, automatic control, vehicle systems, electronic components and quantum physics. The Computer Vision Division, for example, has been designated by Vinnova to be Sweden’s leading research environment within artificial intelligence. The courses and programmes are popular and maintain an acknowledged high quality. The productive collaboration that the researchers have had for many years with Swedish industry in major research programmes such as LINK-SIC and ELLIIT was part of the reason that LiU was selected as host for WASP AI, the Wallenberg AI Autonomous Systems and Software Program, by far the largest individual research programme ever in Sweden.

Target tracking and quantum computers

ISY 50 årAndreas Robinson and Felix Järemo-Lawin demonstrate a technique for target tracking. Photo credit Karl ÖfverströmAt the event, several research fields in which ISY scientists are conducting frontline research were demonstrated. Two doctoral students, Felix Järemo-Lawin and Andreas Robinson, demonstrated a technique for target tracking. After a region, such as a face or an item, has been marked in one frame of a video, the computer can follow it, no matter how it moves or changes its shape. 

“This is the first time we demonstrate this live and in real time”, says Andreas Robinson.

The technique has many fields of application, such as enabling an autonomous vehicle to keep track of how a bike or a person is moving along the street, and helping a robot to grab hold of an object as it quickly moves past.

Professor Jan-Åke Larsson vid avdelningen för informationskodning, ICG, vid institutionen för systemteknik.Jan-Åke Larsson Photo credit Karl ÖfverströmVisionen, a large open space in the lab, is being used to demonstrate how heavy goods vehicles can reverse and manoeuvre in tight spaces completely autonomously, and how vehicles can learn to navigate based on what they see, i.e. based on visual data.

In another part of the premises, Professor Jan-Åke Larsson has laid out several electronic circuits that represent gates in a quantum computer. It is possible to use the components to build a computer that simulates the behaviour of a quantum computer when, for example, it determines the factors of an integer. This is much more difficult for a computer than it sounds, and an algorithm for this calculation is one of few that have been developed for quantum computers.

Jan-Åke Larsson has shown in a recently published scientific article that it is possible to efficiently simulate algorithms for quantum computers in a classical computer.

The Sectra spinoff

Several external speakers had been invited to the celebrations, the first of whom was alumnus Torbjörn Kronander, one of the founders of Sectra and today its managing director.
Torbjörn Kronander, SectraTorbjörn Kronander, managing director of Sectra Photo credit Karl Öfverström
This company is a spinoff from research at the department. Started by enthusiastic scientists in 1978, it has today approximately 800 employees and is valued at around 14 SEK billion on the Stockholm stock exchange.

“The founders have retained control over the company. I firmly believe that if the customers are happy, if the employees are happy, and if costs are under firm control, the shareholders will be satisfied”, said Torbjörn Kronander.

A major problem today is that so many spinoff companies are bought out before they have time to build up to full strength.
“This is a tragedy”, he says.

“Far too many start-ups are based on good ideas from research that are looking for a need to satisfy. In order to be successful, you need a customer whose requirements we have the expertise to solve”, he says.

ISY 50 årErik Landolsi, Irisity, Eva Englund, Ericsson and Fredrik Tjärnström, Veoneer, in discussions with Martin Enqvist from ISY. Photo credit Karl ÖfverströmThe day continued with gateaux, a panel discussion about collaboration between academia and industry, and invited guest Dr. Sriram Vangal from Intel, who described energy-efficient computing.

Translated by George Farrants

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