Brussels, 07 Mar 2006
The ARTEMIS technology platform launched its strategic research agenda on 6 March. ARTEMIS (Advanced Research and Technology for Embedded Intelligence and Systems) brings together major players in the embedded systems industry.
Embedded systems refer to computers or microprocessors inside objects around us that cannot be modified by the consumer. A good example is in the automotive industry, where embedded systems have become an integral part of the final product. Embedded systems operate the ABS braking system, control the engine to maximise efficiency, operate satellite navigation, air conditioning, cruise control and a host of other features.
There are now more objects containing embedded systems than there are people on Earth. Emile Aarts, vice president and scientific programme director at Philips, outlined a vision for 2020 involving 'ambient intelligence', where embedded systems could occupy much of our natural environment, and react to our preferences automatically. 'To achieve this, we need to bridge the heaven of ambient intelligence with the hell of physics. Because miniaturisation is developing so quickly, there is a gap between architecture and physics. ARTEMIS is bridging the gap from the software side, and [nanotechnology technology platform] ENIAC is doing the same from the nano-architecture side,' he said. 'Moore's law', states that processing power doubles approximately every 18 months, so that systems are increasingly powerful yet increasingly small.
More immediately, large retailers such as the UK's Tesco are already bringing in products with individual Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags. Each contains a chip with information about the specific product, from tins of baked beans to flat-screen televisions, so that the retailer can monitor the progress of products from manufacture through to sale. This embedded systems application has huge potential.
ARTEMIS chairman Yrjo Neuvo pointed out that Europe is the undisputed world leader in embedded systems, and that a pooling of resources could drive economic change. 'The Aho report emphasised that Europe needs to join forces to drive innovation and competitiveness. This is exactly what we have done at ARTEMIS,' he said.
A fully-developed embedded systems industry would be huge. Research is currently carried out by individual companies. Breakthroughs in one area could be useful in other areas, and ARTEMIS would facilitate the transfer of expertise across different companies and disciplines. Embedded systems are a rapidly developing area, with ten per cent growth year-on-year. Again looking at the automotive industry, 20 per cent of the value of a car is today down to its embedded technology. This will increase to 35 or 40 per cent by 2015, creating up to 600,000 jobs, according to ARTEMIS.
The plans for ARTEMIS are extremely ambitious. The platform is completely open, with any organisation able to join. A public-private partnership, ARTEMIS is looking for 2.7 billion euro in funding for four years starting from 2007.
Viviane Reding, Information Society and Media Commissioner said: 'We want ARTEMIS to continue and succeed. Industrial research spend is 15-20 billion euro per year on embedded systems. Half of the top 100 companies use embedded systems, and most of the top 25 are actively researching embedded systems. There is huge potential for new applications, which will in turn create new markets. This is at the heart of the Lisbon Strategy. Embedded systems will have a direct impact on how we add value to the economic chain.
'Do we need to use the EU to develop this?' she asked. 'Yes we do. We face serious economic and technical challenges that can only be met at an EU scale. The EU is needed to pull back the scale of practical knowledge. Today phones are as powerful as desktop computers. We need new approaches to design and develop, and not be defeated by complexity. The EU is indispensable. ARTEMIS will pool high quality research and set up standards and coordination to give greater certainty to investors. If the EU does not, it will be left behind - this is the strategic importance of ARTEMIS.
'We need to focus efforts on shared objectives and common goals. Technology platforms are key tools to coordinate development. The EU's problem is that there is insufficient growth and productivity. Innovation drives productivity, then that should be the target, not wasting resources on duplicating effort, and greater economies of scale. Research leads to growth, growth to productivity, productivity to jobs, jobs mean more money going to governments in tax, which means more money can be spent on research, so the process is cyclical. This is why we need an industry-led initiative to reach critical mass. ARTEMIS is one of six proposed 'joint technology' projects. We encourage support for ARTEMIS, and with support and EU commitment, we will put ARTEMIS forward to the council in the spring,' she said.