Newcastle kicks off work on reliability

On Friday (1 February), Newcastle University will start work on an €18m EU project designed to make embedded systems more robust and reliable. The Deploy project builds on a three-year project just completed by the university, which developed new ways of building fault tolerance into computer systems.

The project is to be led by the university and five large European companies have signed up: Siemens, Bosch, Space Systems, Nokia and SAP. Work being carried out will feed into projects such as the 2013 European Space Agency's mission to explore Mercury and train security on the Paris Metro.

Project director Professor Sascha Romanovsky said: "t is very unusual for a university to be leading a project like this as it's normally industry-led, so it is a great honour for us to be working with some of the top names in European industry.

"From the start we've made it clear that we're not going to carry out research that is not meeting industry's needs. This project will only be a success if we are able to create what they need and can use."

The scientists will be using formal engineering methods to test the fault tolerance of each system and refining these in an industrial setting to ensure they meet the needs of an increasingly technological society.

Computing science Professor Cliff Jones added: "My belief is that simple systems are the only reliable ones. It comes down to reasoning if there are too many options, then it becomes too difficult to predict what could happen."

Newcastle University will co-ordinate the dependability systems strand. This will involve working with several of the industrial partners to develop the technology and train them in the use of the new systems. A pilot will be set up in each different industry sector, which will be tested and developed for a year before going into production.

"Any system we create needs to be self-sufficient and the staff need to understand our methods and tools," explained Romanovsky. "This is not just a four-year project which will end when we walk away from it - the whole point is that these methods last for many years to come."

Image: The techniques developed under Deploy will be tested in a number of locations, including the test track at Bosch

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