Complex cyber-physical system – a great engineering challenge

Reflections from KTH-professor Karl Henrik Johansson about benefits of internationalisation of higher education, cyber-physical system challanges and hopes for fruitful collaborations.

Photo: Jann Lipka

You will give a presentation called ”Cyber-physical systems challenges in urban transportation and buildings”, part of the topic area Urban Systems. Can you give an example on what these challenges are?
In future smart cities there are great benifits from connecting infrastructure systems, such as energy, transport, building, telecom, and networks, because in such an integrated system the resources can be used more efficiently and the system can be made more resilient to disturbances. For example, buildings can be used for energy storage and backup, and thereby enable a more dynamic generation of renewable electric power and serve the charge of electric vehicles. How such a complex cyber-physical system should be built and controlled is a great engineering challenge, because the problem spans over several disciplines and solutions need to be modular, as we cannot completely redesign from scratch these infrastructures.

What are your thoughts on the benefits of internationalisation when it comes to higher education, how does it create a stronger learning environment?
Internationalisation of higher education is extremely important, because it is only in competition and collaboration with leading institutions that we are able to measure and strengthen our own educational system. Moreover, in the global race for young talents it is essential that our university and research leaders are well-known and able to attract students. Our international collaborations make KTH more attractive also from the viewpoint that they generate possibilities to our graduate students to make study and research visits abroad.

International research collaborations is important to develop solutions to global issues. What are your hopes for collaborations with researchers from Singapore?Singapore
The universities in Singapore have over the last few years established some quite impressive experimental platforms for studying urban systems. For instance, the integration of information and communication technologies into a smarter and more efficient transport system is rapidly developing. It is of great importance for my research group and colleagues at KTH to learn from our Singapore colleagues and work together with them to come up with new solutions. In this work, we have started to leverage testbeds and real-world implementations both in Singapore and in Stockholm, and I believe that this activity has a great potential to grow.

Karl Henrik Johansson is Director of the ACCESS Linnaeus Centre and Professor in Electrical Engineering at KTH Royal Institute of Technology. He also heads the Stockholm Strategic Research Area ICT The Next Generation.