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New methods and tools for the development of embedded systems


Use of a uniform methodology saves on costs and improves quality

Together with its European research partners, VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland has developed new methods and tools for the development of embedded systems. The aircraft, car, industrial automation, electronics and telecommunications industries in particular can benefit from methods for the development of even safer systems than before.

The challenge for the future posed by embedded systems is to reduce costs, improve quality and bring new products to market faster than before. A methodology that supports the development of embedded systems was developed in a pan-European research project. The methodology provides a modelling process that supports platform-based development and a modelling language and modelling techniques for the modelling of applications and the platform. In addition, the methodology provides methods and tools for the evaluation of the quality of embedded systems already during the design phase. The study also specified an integrated development environment that provides its users with methods for transforming models from one form into another as one moves from one stage of development to another, as well as with the opportunity of tracing the design results from requirements to implementation or vice versa.

The new methodology, including a set of methods and tools, is suitable for the development of various types of embedded systems. The architectural style created by the researchers ensures broad applicability because the style can be applied in different application fields. Furthermore, the reference architecture template provides a set of pre-defined core services and  domain-specific services for the implementation of the execution platform.

“The most significant advantage of the uniform system methodology is the cost savings it enables. The savings are achieved when the results of the expensive development work of platform services can be utilised more than once in different application fields and when flaws and deficiencies can be corrected before the system's actual implementation,” says Eila Ovaska, Research Professor at VTT.

The reusable services ensure the same quality level of system development. Quality is an essential aspect of nearly all embedded systems but its importance is emphasised in applications where safety is crucial, such as in aircraft and cars. Quality is also emphasised when the application domain has certain special requirements related to information security, usability or modifiability.

In addition to its use in aircraft, cars and industrial automation, the methodology can also be utilised in distributed embedded systems such as distributed control, measurement and communication systems at home, in office, industry or urban environments.

The research was mostly carried out with funding provided by the EU Seventh Framework Programme. The project was coordinated by the Vienna University of Technology and included the participation of 23 partners from 11 European countries. 

VTT participated in the development of the architecture style and the reference architecture template through its expertise in software and systems engineering of embedded systems and had the main responsibility for developing the methodology.