Big investment in digitalization’s next chapter: edge computing

Published Apr 02, 2020

Now that cloud computing is firmly established in our society, the next big step in tech is edge computing. KTH is taking on the next chapter of digitalization with a new competence centre that is backed by major industrial players as well as financing.

The newly-minted TECoSA competence centre was inaugurated last week at KTH, with support from Atlas Copco, Elekta, Ericsson, Saab, ÅF and Einride, along with seven smaller companies.

TECoSA is intended to be run for at least a decade, with the first five years being financed with SEK 108 million.

Martin Törngren and James Gross, Professors at KTH, direct the new competence centre.

 “Today, edge computing is in roughly the same situation as cloud computing was about 15-20 years ago. And we can see that cloud computing today has greatly changed the world.”

The term edge computing is fairly new, and certainly not everyone knows what this involves. Martin Törngren says that edge computing is a new computer layer that is introduced between embedded systems and the cloud layer. Data calculations and storage are moved to the “edge of the network”, instead of running centrally on servers. Faster response times and IT security are two important reasons. Saving bandwidth when thousands of smart devices and sensors are talking to each other, transferring large amounts of data, is another.

 “One way to describe it is that edge computing nodes are connected, stationed near the embedded systems and physical devices, and can perform work for a number of applications in a dynamic way. Like a distributed cloud. For example, a base station for mobile traffic could in the future constitute a node. If placed in a traffic intersection, it could handle the coordination of traffic, as in completely new tasks for a base station.”

Martin Törngren goes on to say that it is mainly the advances made in artificial intelligence, machine learning and sensors used by the Internet of Things that has enabled edge computing, facilitated by special processors, algorithms and communications.

Today, powerful market forces are hard at work to win the “battle for edge compuing”. Among the stakeholders struggling for a big slice of the market are companies from the IT and cloud computing worlds, the telecom industry, but also industrial companies such as Siemens.

 “The competence centre TECoSA is focusing on industrial edge computing-based systems, where trustworthiness in the form of IT security, safety and predictability are necessary characteristics. edge computing-based systems are relevant in most conceivable applications, such as civil security, defence, manufacturing, medical technology, communications and the transportation sector.”

He adds that the EU is expected to invest heavily in edge computing in upcoming framework programmes. The EU politicians see this as an opportunity for Europe, which is a strong player in trustworthy embedded systems but has already lost the “battle for the cloud” to the US and China.

Text: Peter Ardell

For more information, contact Martin Törngren at +46 (0)8 - 790 63 07 / martint@kth.se or James Gross at james.gross@ee.kth.se.

Facts

  • TECoSA stands for “Trustworthy Edge Computing Systems and Applications”.
  • Here are some examples of embedded systems: home electronics such as TVs, mobile phones, industrial robots, modern appliances, cars and aircraft.
  • Vinnova will provide one third of the grant money for the competence centre, while industrial partners and KTH will provide the rest.
  • You will find the centre web site here.
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Last changed: Apr 02, 2020