Research Directions

Cyber-Physical Systems (CPS) refer to the next generation embedded ICT systems that are interconnected and collaborating including through the Internet of things, and providing people and businesses with a wide range of innovative applications and services. Research covers the following themes:

  • Modelling and integration frameworks: modelling techniques and comprehensive integrated tool chains for clearly defined use cases.
  • Smart, cooperative and open CPS: Methods for engineering Cyber-physical Systems that are able to respond in real-time to dynamic and complex situations while preserving control, system safety, privacy, reliability, energy efficiency and dependability features, and addressing security and privacy “by design” across all levels.

The evolution of the Internet of Things embedded in Smart Environments and Platforms forming a web of “everythings” has been identified as one of the next big concepts to support societal changes and economic growth. The biggest challenge is to overcome the fragmentation of the vertically-oriented closed systems, architectures and application areas and move towards the open systems and platforms that support multiple applications. This topic covers several ICT challenges (smart systems integration, cyber-physical systems, smart networks, big data) and brings together different generic ICT technologies (electronics, wireless networks, low-power computing, adaptive and cognitive systems) across multiple application domains (e.g. energy, intelligent transport systems, environmental monitoring and logistics).

Smart automation and robotics are simply vital for maintaining manufacturing and associated services. Robots are increasingly endowed with learning and adaptive capabilities that will have a broad impact on all future ICT systems in a wide range of products and services. Robotics is very broad, both in terms of technologies and disciplines it involves. Research covers multi-disciplinary and innovation activities like technology transfer via use-cases and industry-academia cross fertilisation mechanisms. Pre-Commercial Procurement enables further prototype development and stimulates deployment of industrial and service robotics. It is essential for the deployment of robots to have systems development processes (from requirement analysis to testing and validation) and to use techniques and technologies for system design, engineering, architecture, integration, system of systems, modelling and knowledge engineering which are applicable across market domains.

The fast evolution of ICT technology together with the uses that are made of it are exponentially introducing new threats, vulnerabilities and risks. There is a growing consensus that the state-of-the-art approach to secure ICT is becoming obsolete. The challenge is to find solutions guaranteeing end-to-end security that withstands progress for the lifespan of the application it supports, regardless of improvements in attacker hardware or computational capabilities. The main research actions covers the following themes:

  • Security-by-design for end-to-end security. Security-by-design paradigms are developed and tested to provide end-to-end security across all hardware and software layers of an ICT system and application and business services.
  • Cryptography. Cryptographic tools for securely binding applications to software, firmware and hardware environments, with or without the possibility to adapt the cryptographic primitives which are used.

The activities under this topic contribute to the Big Data challenge by addressing the fundamental research problems related to the scalability and responsiveness of analytics capabilities (such as data mining and visualization). Special focus is on industry-validated, user-defined challenges like predictions, and rigorous processes for monitoring and measurement. Research covers the following themes:

  • Novel data structures, algorithms, methodology, software architectures and optimization methodologies for carrying out data analytics, data quality assessment and improvement, prediction and visualization tasks at extremely large scale and with diverse structured and unstructured data (transport is priority area).
  • Explicit experimental protocols and analyses of statistical power for the description of usability validation experiments for the systems proposed.

Virtual Reality, which can be referred to as immersive multimedia or computer-simulated life, replicates an environment that simulates physical presence in places in the real world or imagined worlds and lets the user interact with that world. Virtual reality artificially creates sensory experiences, which can include sight, hearing, touch, smell, and taste. Research covers the following themes:

  • 3D virtual reality models for urban regeneration and planning and transport projects.
  • Training applications of 3D virtual reality, which allow professionals to conduct training in a virtual environment to improve upon their skills without the consequence of failing the operation.

Aviation is vital for our society and economy. It provides mobility to citizens and freight, amongst the regions of Europe and beyond. Research covers the following themes:

  • Condition-based health management, replacing scheduled inspections and thus decreasing maintenance costs and increasing safety and aircraft availability through accelerating the integration of innovative and existing sensor technologies, advancing data analysis methods and promoting standards for health sensing across dissimilar systems and structures, developing and validating multiple sensor technologies on systems and structures, and addressing relevant regulatory barriers.
  • Autonomous, intelligent and evolving systems (e.g. Remotely Piloted and Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Systems for monitoring of critical infrastructure).
  • More robust, cost-efficient solutions for the whole life-cycle, based on novel methodologies and technologies towards improving the safety of the air transport system.

Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) provide the key to achieving the vision of seamless transport both in passenger and in goods transport markets on the base of ICT use. Research covers the following themes:

  • Multi-modal, cross-border traffic management, information and planning systems to serve passengers and/or other users.
  • Analysis of the range of services to be made accessible under each interface, by taking into account differences in preferences and behaviour between various user groups.
  • Identification of the success and failure factors (technological, economic and socio-cultural) of the new concept(s), such as mobility as a service, with particular attention to the users’ acceptance factors.
  • Identification of the necessary framework (regulatory, technological, financial, etc.) to support the implementation of new services, including the needed private-public collaboration requirements.
  • Identification and development of viable business models suitable for future market take-up.
  • Identification and validation of measures apt to induce socially-responsible travel behaviours and advanced planning (e.g. via integrated intermodal paperless ticketing).
  • Enable services based on appropriate access and sharing of data leveraging in-vehicle resources and 2-way V2V, V2I, I2I and vulnerable road users’ connectivity in complex urban environments.
  • Demonstration and validation of cross-modal integration and potential for cross-border inter-operability.
  • Implementation of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for the performance assessment and measurement of ITS deployment and benefits/impact assessment.

The wide range of transport modelling application is connected with the movement of passenger transport, urban traffic analyzing, strategic freight-network planning, etc. The transport modelling complexity is defined by the huge amount of users and stochastic processes in the transport systems. Research covers the following themes:

  • Development of micro, macro and mezzo level traffic models.
  • Development of transport infrastructure models.
  • Development and implementation of methodologies and procedures to support the use of traffic simulation, especially on the topics of calibration and validation.
  • Methodological approach for harmonizing national travel surveys (related to protocol, questionnaire design, variables definition, etc.).
  • New generation of transit assignment models with Intelligent Transport Systems applications.

Freight transport logistics is an industry sector responsible for managing the flows of goods and information between a point of production and a point of sale or use in order to meet the requirements of clients and consumers. Logistics focuses on the planning, organisation, management, control and execution of freight transport operations. In a logistics sector with highly increased collaboration, intermodal and dynamic re-routing of freight, there is a need to exploit ICT advances such as Internet-of-Things, big data, new satellite navigation infrastructure and Intelligent Transport Systems with changes in business needs. Research covers the following themes:

Planning and data

  • Identification of opportunities for increased availability of freight data (such as shipments, volumes, statuses, destinations, etc.) taking into account security, privacy, data ownership and policies for data sharing.
  • Development of algorithms to increase both load factors and optimize the planned delivery route, based on the specifications of Modular Load Units, the vehicle or container and all the required destinations.

Dynamic routing and business models

  • Development of event management systems that create visibility and transparency and allow real-time exception management for faster traffic reconfiguration and increased resilience.
  • Development of business models for dynamic transport services (e.g. cargo was automatically switched between barge and train because a truck encountered traffic congestions and was late at the hub).

Interoperability and everything connected

  • Development of simple connection tools that allow low-cost integration of SMEs in the supply chain, offering two-way communication and leading both to efficient planning of their part of the supply chain and giving feedback to other stakeholders.
  • Integratation of simple and cost effective sensors or smart devices (IoT, ITS) into supply chain data management tools.
  • Harmonization of interoperability between supply chain partners, allowing easy information sharing and creating trust in the complexity of multi-modal transport. Solutions link public and private stakeholders.

Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) is a safe, advanced, non-destructive and non-invasive imaging technique that is effectively used for inspection of composite structures and diagnostics affecting the whole life-cycle of civil engineering and transport infrastructure (SETI) works. GPR provides high resolution images of subsurface and structures through wide-band electromagnetic waves. It is quick and inexpensive in comparison to other investigation methods and is capable of probing down to a few tens of meters, depending on the system characteristics and on ground conditions. Research covers the following themes:

  • Protocols and guidelines for different applications for the effective application of GPR in CETI.
  • A novel GPR design: a multi-static system, with dedicated software and calibration procedures, able to construct real-time lane 3D high resolution images of investigated areas.
  • Advanced electromagnetic-scattering and data-processing techniques. Advancement of the understanding of relationships between geophysical parameters and CEIT needs.
  • Release of freeware software for inspection and monitoring of structures and infrastructures, buried-object localization, shape reconstruction and estimation of useful parameters.

Many innovative solutions for sustainable urban mobility have been or are being developed in a variety of social, economic and geographical contexts. The research covers the following topics:

  • Traffic and travel avoidance: planning and location policy; innovative demand management approaches while providing citizens, businesses and organisations with minimum levels of access; less car dependent lifestyles.
  • Optimization of the existing infrastructure and vehicles: this may include smart pricing of parking, public transport and road use; increasing load factors and making the last mile more efficient in urban freight transport; integration between urban freight and passengers transport networks within the appropriate city and transport planning governance; innovative use of passenger transport means; planning for increasing the resilience of the urban transport system to extreme weather events.
  • Optimization of multi-modals hubs and terminals for passengers and freight; integration of systems, (sustainable) modes and ‘mobility as a service’, more efficient transfers; transformation of districts; multi-purpose use of space for vehicles.
  • Supporting modal shift towards more efficient modes: increased walking and cycling; mobility management and travel awareness; increased attractiveness of public transport; new coordination and service concepts.
  • Analysis of the characteristics of prioritized areas in terms of spatial, demographic and socio-economic characteristics and identification of the factors that influence mobility and accessibility.
  • Identification and/or development of new, efficient, inclusive, affordable and accessible mobility solutions and public transport models taking also advantage of IT applications (such as social media, app-oriented services, etc.).
  • Analysis of differences between various travel motivations (leisure, business) and the related travel time value and examine the extent to which the proliferation of ICT applications such as wifi connections (e.g. in trains, ships) tend to reduce the perceived cost of travel time for private and corporate travel.

The development and integration of robust and fit-for-purpose digital technologies for learning are crucial to boost the market for and innovation in educational technologies. This requires an industry-led approach in close cooperation with academia to defining the frameworks and interoperability requirements for the building blocks of a digital ecosystem for learning (including informal learning) that develops and integrates tools and systems that apply e.g. adaptive learning, augmented cognition technologies, affective learning, micro learning, game-based learning and/or virtual environments/virtual worlds to real-life learning situations. Research activities focuses on the innovative technologies for learning, on the underpinning interoperability standards and on the integration of different components into smart learning environments. They combine different technologies (e.g. mobile, augmented reality, natural interaction technologies, simulation, games) and support composing, re-using and distributing interactive educational content and services, with assessment and feedback functionalities.

Research and Innovation activities provide professionals with new tools to model, analyse, and visualize vast amounts of data from which to extract more value, to make an intelligent use of data coming from different sources and to create, access, exploit, and re-use all forms of digital content.

ICT tools and technological innovation are fundamental for the creative industries and their competitiveness. They widen creative possibilities and improve efficiency in all sectors. Competitiveness of enterprises is stimulated by the development of ICT applications oriented on real SMEs demand. It is done by effectively building up and expanding vibrant individual technological ecosystems for the creative industries’ needs and fostering exchanges between the creative industries SMEs and TSI as provider of ICT innovative solutions. Research activities support the creative industries SMEs in leveraging emerging ICT technologies (e.g. 3D, augmented reality, advanced user interfaces, visual computing) for the development of innovative products, tools, applications and services with high commercial potential. Research in new technologies and tools supports enterprises in the creative process from the idea conception to production.

In-depth exploration of the development of fundamental notions such as identity, privacy, relationships, culture, reputation, motivations, responsibility, attention, safety and fairness is in focus, as limits between offline and online are blurred in numerous ways in the hyper-connected age. The research provides new knowledge of the ways in which individuals and communities work, think, learn, behave, and interact in the new hyper-connected environments and of how these new developments affect people’s perceptions of self, services, entrepreneurship, and governance.

Business intelligence (BI) is a set of techniques and tools for the transformation of raw data into meaningful and useful information for the business analysis purposes. BI technologies are capable of handling large amounts of the unstructured data to help identify, develop and otherwise create new strategic business opportunities. The research covers the following topics:

  • Analysis of business intelligence applications and analytics.
  • Best practices in business intelligence.
  • Data warehousing and data mining strategies for business intelligence.
  • Examination of the use of analytics in support of business processes and decision-making.
  • Metrics and their effectiveness in business intelligence analyses.
  • Organizational culture and its impact on business intelligence.
  • Relationship between knowledge management and business intelligence.
  • Using business intelligence for security analysis and fraud detection.

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