Cyber-physical systems in the modern world

    The Internet, social networks, cloud services and e-commerce have become important components of modern life. But we still live in the real "analog" world, and not in cyberspace. It is all the more interesting that cyber-physical systems, which are able to combine these two aspects of our life, are now developing at a very fast pace.

    What is cyber-physical systems?

    Cyber-physical systems (from the English. Cyber-physical systems, or CPS) - the concept is quite complex. Today they have not received an unambiguous and generally accepted definition, since these systems are located at the intersection of several spheres at once and, depending on the implementation, are able to affect various aspects of our life. Their main common characteristic is a very tight interaction between computational processes and physical processes, so we can say that the cyber-physical system is a complex system of computational and physical elements that constantly receives data from the environment and uses them to further optimize management processes.

    The cyber-physical systems include “smart” power supply networks, control systems for “smart” transport, automated control systems (automated control systems) in manufacturing and agriculture, as well as medical equipment. One of the examples of cyber-physical systems are such large-scale and complex solutions as “smart” cities. It is important to note that cyber-physical systems are similar in architecture to the Internet of things and can use its elements for communication or data acquisition, but in essence they are much more difficult, therefore, it would be incorrect to put an equal sign here.

    Principles of cyber-physical systems

    As mentioned above, the main principle of operation of cyber-physical systems can be called a deep relationship between their physical and computing elements. The “brain” of the system in the form of AI and other technologies receives data from sensors in the real world, analyzes these data and uses them to further control the physical elements. Thanks to this interaction, the cyber-physical system is able to work effectively in changing conditions, like an analogue of a human body or a modern company that analyzes the situation on the market in order to develop the exact product that it needs now. Moreover, the cycle “management - data acquisition - data processing - management” with the adjusted work of the system each time should give positive results and create new value.

    For example, Toshiba uses the principle of cyber-physical systems in its virtual power plant project, which uses IoT technologies to coordinate the work of distributed energy sources (solar, hydrogen and wind energy), electric vehicles and energy storage / storage systems that consume it. . Using data from IoT devices and AI technologies, in this case, it is possible to optimize the system’s power consumption, predict its scale and ultimately achieve maximum energy savings.

    Toshiba Virtual Power Station

    Other options for the use of cyber-physical systems include autonomous transport management systems that receive real-time information from road users and road infrastructure to avoid accidents and find the best route to their destination, taking into account the situation on the road; medical equipment that remotely monitors the condition of patients and is used to study the human body; Smart buildings with zero power consumption; means of automation of processes in agriculture ... Common to all these examples will be that cyber-physical systems can really make people's lives easier and improve its level, therefore many large companies are now taking the course of development to develop them.

    "Smart" cities as an example of large-scale cyber-physical systems

    The ability to “make people's lives better and easier” with the help of these systems can be perfectly illustrated just by the example of “smart” cities. Singapore has repeatedly been recognized by various researchers as the smartest of the "smartest" cities on the planet, and his government goes even further and believes that it is working on a project of "smart nation" (Smart Nation is the name of the urban development program of Singapore). A number of startups jointly create solutions for Singapore that cover virtually all areas of life of citizens - from law enforcement and the automatic fixation of violations to the management of the transport system and energy resources, water supply and health care. And it gives its results, for example, the traffic management system alone can save Singapore’s drivers tens of thousands of hours a year.

    The smartest of the "smart" cities of Singapore

    Another option for a "smart" approach to urban planning is the city of Masdar in the UAE, which is being built near Abu Dhabi. Masdar should become an “eco-city”, which fully meets its needs with the help of renewable energy sources, completely recycles all waste and completely abandons traditional modes of transport in favor of public and personal autonomous transport. Naturally, the latest technologies, including cyber-physical systems, will be used to effectively manage resources and traffic in Masdar.

    Eco-town "Masdar" in the Rub El Khali desert

    In general, in recent years, cyber-physical systems have received a great impetus to development, which is associated with an increase in the number of “smart” devices and sensor networks and their integration into ever larger systems, for example, the Internet of things. But, according to Toshiba technical director Dr. Ciro Saito (Shiro Saito), a transition to open innovation is very important for the future of these systems. “It is extremely important not to fall into the trap of wanting to achieve everything on your own,” he notes. That is why the company is actively engaged in investments in modern technologies related to cyber-physical systems, and collaborates with other organizations, for example, working together with Stanford University to reduce the power consumption of AI chips (the current result is a 88 percent decrease).

    Cyber-physical systems are so extensive and promising that only by joint efforts various companies, research institutes and organizations will be able to develop new technologies and new products, including to solve actual social problems.

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