What are the relations between Cyber-Physical Systems (CPS) and the Internet of Things (IoT) to better understand the terminologies?
The function between Cyber-Physical System and Internet of Things is quiet ambiguous because you can’t have Internet of Things if you don’t have smart things. Cyber-Physical Systems could include the Internet of Things or the Internet of Things could include the Cyber-Physical Systems. There are two ways of looking on these terms, but the whole Internet of Things topic is much easier to handle for the large public rather than the term Cyber-Physical System. The expression of Cyber-Physical System needs a lot more explanations. This is one of the reasons why we can find the word IoT everywhere and CPS only in the specialist area. But if we look at the industry and research we have to consider that Cyber-Physical Systems are a highly relevant concept that allows putting smartness in any kind of objects, while addressing their physical existence. These objects are of course connected with “the Internet”, but also in many other kinds of Nets.
Let’s consider that the Internet is more machine to machine communication and as soon as you get the human in the loop it becomes Cyber-Physical System. If two machines discussing with each other without any interference or actuation from outside, this could be considered as an Internet of Things. It would be great if we can share this big concept of connected smart products of objects by seeing that the Internet of Things is handling the way they are changing information. So objects would have an address and identification, as example, like when you have your phone number, and are compellingly connected through a network. Therefore, it’s simple a network. And all the rest how to embed intelligence, how to make a product physical interacting with the external world this is in the CPS part.
In order to understand what the issues on the Cyber-Physical side are we need some techniques and standards to make them better communicate with each other. Let's take a last example the Smartphone to make this clearer. The Smartphone is usually connected with the internet. If you have a connected car to the infrastructure, it would behave like a smartphone connected to the internet, but, the stakes are different, as major concerns are raising, like what kind of software or what kind of operating system should be used, what safety and security requirements are implemented, and so on.
What are the main upcoming trends or challenges in the area of Cyber-Physical Systems?
The first would be safety and security as just mentioned. It is questionable if we should put the two words in one word or in two separate words. There is no safe product if it’s not secure. But security will become more important for the user’s adoption in the real world. Security has also a wider impact, for example on economic aspects, such as on cost, and on privacy and ethics. There are some important tradeoffs between these requirements and users expectations. The second would be the interoperability as it is strongly linked to connectivity, because you don’t want that each time you go somewhere you have to change your protocol, to have another ID when you are traveling, you just keep it and expect your credential to be used differently. In short, operation must be done in a seamless way. The third one is the ease of use which implies hiding the system complexity for the users, making them more ‘Intelligent’. However, it is a long way before replacing “human intelligence” by “machine intelligence”. Things like consciousness or ethics where the challenge of translating them into algorithms and programing is still far to meet.
What would be the most efficient way to implement these trend topics in the industry?
I believe a lot in the collaborative research because as we cannot do always things on our own. We are witnessing a new business model trend today: “the verticalisation”, where the hyper-scale, big ones like e.g. Google, Tesla, and Apple are adopting. These market leaders want to cover the wider as possible value chain, from components to systems and systems of systems. Nowadays they have acquired financial potential to buy every kind of technologies available on the market, and to integrate them in their business. Here, in Europe, we should bundle our efforts in order to reach a critical size, a size which is big enough in order to be able to work together and challenge them.
The collaboration between all the actors over the complete value-chain is not only large industry players concern. It also involves all other research stakeholders from RTO’s and academia to SMEs, as they can contribute on the longer term research on what the future will be as well on the markets up-take. Industry can help in bringing in their views on longer term perspectives and markets expectations or predictions and on how to make business out of such longer term research, which is very important to bring research results into real products and services. We have to produce value, but if we produce the wrong value it will be a big lost and waste for everyone. So, if we do not have collaboration between the actors of an eco-system we will not have any market take up. This collaboration we need especially the SMEs, because of their agility to do things faster. Of course SMEs are more fragile, therefore we have to do more for them, to help them in their growth to a larger scale, and this is why the collaboration with the SMEs or start-ups is very important to keep such eco-system alive.
Please click here to visit the website of the Artemis Industry Association.