IKERLAN is working on the cyber-secure remote updating of drones and autonomous robots through the European UP2DATE project
The technology centre is leading this initiative financed by the Horizon 2020 Programme, which seeks to develop a technology that enables the remote and secure updating of software in critical systems.
- TÜV Rheinland has accredited the secure software update architecture defined by IKERLAN for the project.
- After developing the technology for the railway and automotive sectors, the centre is working to transfer it to this new field, with numerous applications in industry.
- This is a key project for Europe to be prepared for this technological change, in which cybersecurity and personal safety will play a key role.
Remotely updating the software of a robot specialised in offshore wind turbine maintenance tasks or that of a collaborative robot designed to automate industrial processes, including that of a drone dedicated to locating objects in storage areas, would save time, money and resources, as well as safeguarding the integrity of the people who are currently involved in those tasks.
The possibility of performing this type of operation remotely via an internet connection, under the same philosophy adopted for smartphones, is strategic to ensure the competitiveness of an increasingly digitalised industry. Updates occur while the devices are in operation, they are not stopped for fine-tuning, and this makes it possible to increase their availability. For this reason, within the framework of the European UP2DATE project, IKERLAN began developing this technology to apply it in sectors such as the automotive or railway sectors -in which safety is a key factor, given that a failure can cause economic losses, physical damage or even threats to human life-. After obtaining TÜV Rheinland certification for the secure online update architecture it has developed, the technology centre is now focusing on transferring the concept to drones, AGVs (automated guided vehicles), robots and other autonomous systems. Upgrading remotely and securely, without having to stop the autonomous system's operation, would lead to significant savings in sectors such as lifting, robotics and machinery, where reliability is a must.
IKERLAN has a long history working on autonomous system technologies and secure software updates, positioning itself as a benchmark in the national field in certification and security. Through the UP2DATE project, the centre is investigating the main challenges limiting the widespread adoption of remote update technology in the transport of the future: functional safety and cybersecurity, which must go hand in hand. UP2DATE is a key project to prepare Europe for this technological change, in which cybersecurity and the safety of people will play a key role.
"The next step is to transfer this technology to industry," says Irune Agirre, project coordinator at IKERLAN. "Our aim is to guarantee that the discoveries and developments generated within the framework of UP2DATE have a place in the market, in line with the commitment to technology transfer that characterises European R&D&I projects". This is in line with the centre's vocation to develop useful technology for the real needs of companies.
To this end, UP2DATE is working with CAF to evaluate remote upgrades in the railway sector, as the company aims to reduce installation time and associated maintenance activities by up to 50 %. In the automotive sector, companies such as TTTech, IAV or Marelli will adopt and evaluate the solution in the automotive sector, aiming to reduce up to 90 % of the replacement and maintenance campaigns that have had such an economic impact on the sector in the past.
UP2DATE (2020-2022) has a budget of around 4 million euros, provided by the European Commission through the Horizon 2020 Programme, a programme that funds research and innovation projects in various thematic areas. Since its start in 2020, IKERLAN has been leading the coordination of this programme in which Barcelona Supercomputing Center, CAF Signalling, IAV, Marelli, DLR and TTTech are also participating. IKERLAN is confident that, at the end of the research in 2022, the results of UP2DATE can be applied in other strategic sectors for European industry, such as space or aeronautics.
IKERLAN, a member of BRTA, is a leading centre in technology transfer and in the contribution of competitive value to the company due, among other things, to the specialisation of its researchers. It offers comprehensive solutions that combine different technological fields into three large areas: Electronics, Information and Communication Technologies (EICT), Energy and Mechatronics. In 2017, IKERLAN obtained certification, via AENOR, for the integrated management system (UNE-EN ISO 9001:2015 and UNE 166002:2014), which recognises the excellence of the centre in the field of R&D&I. It currently has a workforce of around 350 people.