The research program is mainly focused on the technological issues related to intelligent systems and their ability to be distributed in an environment to solve complex problems. This central topic stems from the description of intelligent systems as products that use communication channels, electronics, microprocessors and software technologies to accomplish predefined tasks, e.g., control objectives given to an autonomous mechatronic system. Embedded systems are fundamental for intelligent products and can be considered as computing systems dedicated to special purposes. These systems will radically change the future through new products as well as sophisticated product development, a trend that has just been started. Indeed, a lot of people don't realize that the embedded computer is by far the most common form of computer in use today; the most common consumer products, such as vacuum cleaners, washing machines or lawn mowers, use more or less complex embedded systems. Our city streets, homes and working places are supplied with embedded systems in order to control and regulate lighting, comfort and different security and safety appliances. There are two important aspects of embedded computers in real life: the necessity of robust and dedicated electronics and the increasing need for communication links between each embedded system. Dedicated electronics is in demand since embedded systems are frequently used in harsh environment and add substantial value to products. Indeed, within the next five years, the share of embedded systems is expected to increase substantially in the automotive, industrial automation, telecommunications, consumer electronics and health/medical equipment sectors. Moreover, the value added to the final product by embedded technologies and software is much higher than the cost of the device itself. For example, in case of a modern car, by 2010 over 35% of its value will be due to embedded electronics. And it is even more so for other appliances, where each computing or sensing system may be regarded as a wireless network node that participates in achieving a global goal.
In this embedded distributed framework, our research activities include: distributed algorithms, to develop lightweight distributed applications to adapt to time-varying and heterogeneous environments and to correctly collect and fuse information gathered from different sources; general methodologies, for system level architectures, paradigms and methodologies design in order to implement resource intensive algorithms; modelling for the development of power aware devices and protocol design. Another area of research investigates measurements (to devise new types of sensing techniques for physical quantities and emphasize low power and heterogeneous sensors integration and fusion), and microsensors and MEMS, for highly integrated network nodes. Finally, our researchers also study prototyping for performance assessment using system-prototyping based on resource-constrained platforms.
Luigi Palopoli (coordinator)
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