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Industry + Academia = A Perfect Match

Industry + Academia = A Perfect Match

A substantial part of the research performed within Autonomous Real-Time Systems at the Department of Automatic Control is carried out in close cooperation with industry. Johan Eker is one of several researchers dividing his time between academia and industry.

“I get the best of both worlds by combining the two”, he says.

He likes distinct clients, the substantive issues, and the high tempo at Ericsson, where he is employed as a principal researcher, as well as the possibilities for reflection and of immersing himself in a subject at the University, where he has the position of adjunct professor.

“Within my field of research, which is 5G and industrial clouds, industry is at the technical leading edge. We gain a lot of momentum for our more theoretical approaches within the University by cooperating with industry.”

Johan Eker uses the manufacturing industry as an example. Companies are introducing data-driven solutions to increase competitiveness, by improving quality and avoiding unscheduled interruptions. This generally involves augmenting the feedback control loops. These automation loops require a low and predictable end-to-end latency, making it unfeasible to use services that reside in a cloud infrastructure, due to the current lack of these features in the cloud. However, with the new technology that 5G promises, it will be possible to establish a low-latency connection between the automation application and the cloud infrastructure hosting the services. While the industrial partner, Ericsson in this case, looks deeper into the practical aspects of establishing a cloud infrastructure that works well, researchers at the University are performing in-depth studies on the theory behind resource availability, and suggesting models to scale computing power depending on demand.

“We’re trying to find out how to make a system elastic, while still being reliable and predictable”, says Johan Eker.

Algorithms can save lives

Another project, involving several well-renowned companies such as Saab Aeronautics, Saab Surveillance, Axis Communications, UMS Skeldar, and Ericsson, as well as Linköping University and RISE (Research Institutes of Sweden), is aimed at improving public safety [länk:]. This project provides a realistic, large-scale and industrially relevant demonstration environment using scenarios that focus on keeping society and its citizens safe when disruptions, accidents, or catastrophes occur. The first experiment conducted was an autonomous search-and-rescue system for use at sea [länk:].

“What’s really interesting here is that we do real experiments. We don’t just simulate what would happen in an emergency, as is often done in other contexts. We go out there and test our systems in the real world”, says Johan Eker and continues:

“This wouldn’t be possible without the collective knowledge and competence of researchers and technical experts alike, and the combined support of academia and industry.”.