Examples of cyber-physical systems include autonomous cars, aircraft autopilot systems, tele-robotics devices and energy-efficient buildings, among many others.
The grant brings together expertise from five universities and establishes a center-scale research activity to improve the accuracy, efficiency, robustness and security with which computers maintain knowledge of time and synchronize it with other networked devices in the emerging "Internet of Things."
Time has always been a critical issue in science and technology. From pendulums to atomic clocks, the accurate measurement of time has helped drive scientific discovery and engineering innovation throughout history. For example, advances in distributed clock synchronization technology enabled GPS satellites to precisely measure distances. This, in turn, created new opportunities and even entirely new industries, enabling the development of mobile navigation systems. However, many other areas of clock technology are still ripe for development.
Time synchronization presents a particular fundamental challenge in emerging applications of CPS, which connect computers, communication, sensors and actuator technologies to objects and play a critical role in our physical and network infrastructure. Cyber-physical systems depend on precise knowledge of time to infer location, control communication and accurately coordinate activities. They are critical to real-time situational awareness, security and control in a broad and growing range of applications.
The NSF award will support a project called Roseline (http://www.nsf.gov/cgi-bin/goodbye?http://www.rose-line.info), which seeks to develop new clocking technologies, synchronization protocols, operating system methods, as well as control and sensing algorithms. The project is led by engineering faculty from the
"Through the Roseline project, we will drive cyber-physical systems research with a deeper understanding of time and its trade-offs and advance the state-of-the-art in clocking circuits and platform architectures," said
Today, most computing systems use tiny clocks to manage time in a relatively simplistic and idealized fashion. For example, software in today's computers has little visibility into, and control over, the quality of time information received from its underlying hardware. At the same time, the clocks have little, if any, knowledge of the quality of time needed by the software, nor any ability to adapt to it. This leaves computing systems that are dependent on time vulnerable to complex and catastrophic disruptions.
The Roseline team will address this problem by rethinking and re-engineering how the knowledge of time is handled across a computing system's hardware and software.
"Roseline will drive accurate timing information deep into the software system," said
Roseline will have a broad impact across many sectors, including smart electrical grids, aerospace systems, precision manufacturing, autonomous vehicles, safety systems and infrastructure monitoring.
In addition to Srivastava and Gupta, the Roseline team includes
Beyond the research and testing of components, project leaders plan to integrate CPS and timing components into graduate and undergraduate course materials and engage pre-college students in outreach efforts, including the
"The measurement, distribution and synchronization of time have always been critical in science and technology, and there is a long history of new time-related technologies revolutionizing society," said
NSF's long-standing support for CPS research and education spans a range of awards amounting to an investment of nearly
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