This project explores a new vision of cyber-physical systems (CPSs) in which computing power and control methods are jointly considered. The approach is carried out through exploration of new theories for the modeling, analysis, and design of CPSs that operate under computational constraints. 

Jonathan Sprinkle
National Science Foundation
Ricardo Sanfelice, Murat Arcak, Majid Zamani, Linh Thi Xuan Phan, Abhishek Halder
Lead Organization
UC Santa Cruz
Award Number
Lead PI
Jonathan Sprinkle

The tight coupling between computation, communication, and control pervades the design and application of CPSs. Due to the complexity of such systems, advanced design procedures that cope with the variability and uncertainty introduced by computing resources are mandatory, though the design choices are across many disciplines, which may result in over-design of a system. The project will have significant impact through the reduction in design and development time for complex cyber physical systems including ground, air, and maritime vehicles.


The broader impacts of this project stem from the potential to enable a new generation of transportation systems that improve the reliability and security of autonomous systems. The research in this project significantly addresses the growing carbon footprint challenge through efficiencies in computational CPS infrastructure, optimization of routes, and by increasing the utilization of autonomous systems. Industry partners may deploy enhanced safety and performance innovations on legacy vehicles, diversify hardware applications, and expand future technologies. Additional efforts in mentoring and undergraduate research are focused on Broadening Participation in Computing, with the goal to empower a new generation of researchers who are passionate to have impact on a societal scale.


The proposed innovative research plan will advance the knowledge on modeling, analysis, and design of high-performance CPSs operating under computational constraints. By combining key expertise from hardware architecture, real-time systems, nonlinear control, hybrid systems, and optimization algorithms, the developed CPSs will execute algorithms that adapt to the platforms they operate in and to the environment they are deployed on. This project will also generate tools to automatically design, synthesize, and implement feedback control algorithms that are compatible with both the physics and the computing platforms in the CPSs. Tools will be validated experimentally in intelligent transportation applications, including real-world ground, aerial, and marine autonomous vehicles, both in-house and in collaboration with our academic and industrial partners.


The new platforms to emerge from this project may adapt to our novel algorithms, through reallocation of resources and self-adaptation/augmentation at runtime, by learning the main features of the platform (e.g., execution time, memory footprint, and power consumption) and of the physics (e.g., dynamics, actuation, sensing). If successful, these new platforms can enable vehicles to have confidence when their software is updated, and can bring new features to systems that did not previously have them.