Introduction to Embedded Systems - By Pascal Eloy

The industry is experiencing many technological shifts that are changing the face of sectors such as the automotive, aeronautics and IT industries.

In recent years, it is the notion of "embedded systems" for which R&D spending has been pouring in.

But what is an embedded system? It is an "autonomous electronic and computer system*", generally used to carry out a predefined task in real time.

We find these embedded systems in most of our products, equipment and networks.

Let's retrace its history in a few steps:

It was at the MIT, in 1960, that the first embedded system was used to develop Apollo's guidance system.

The automobile followed, with the first vehicle to incorporate an embedded system in 1968.

In 1987, the first integrated operating system, VxWorks, was launched by Wind River.

In 1990, the first embedded operating system, Linux, appeared.

A new breakthrough came when Microsoft launched its CE Windows Embedded in 1996.

The market is expected to grow from nearly $153 billion worldwide in 2014 to just over $233 billion in 2021, an average growth rate of 6.4% per year during this period.**

Some concrete applications of embedded systems:

- Automobile

- Drones

- Underwater vehicles

- Cardiac monitor

- Prostheses

- Ignition system

- Brake system

- Televisions

- Air conditioner

- Nuclear reactors

- Space stations

In the recent news, several projects including embedded systems have been in the spotlights:

Tesla in particular, which is developing Autopilot on its electric vehicles for even greater safety, even when the system is not consciously activated. A video shows in particular how the safety of a Model 3 takes over to avoid a collision with a pedestrian.

The sailing sector is also concerned! Yes, the MADINTEC autopilot has a revolutionary algorithm that allows to take control of the yacht's controls and thus offer much-needed "avoidance": "many fixed or moving obstacles are dangers that should be avoided automatically when the crew cannot see them or when they do not have time to react, for example at very high speeds".

Pascal Eloy, Engineer specialized in Embedded Systems at MCA in Paris, shares with us his experience at Thalès :

> What was the context and objectives of the mission?Within the framework of the development of the product of railroad signaling PIPC and particularly its MEI interlocking device, Thales must develop its product to answer some issues of obsolescence.

Some tasks of software development are to be led to port the application software MEI (SSIL4 software) on TAS platform, SIL4 certified redundant real-time platform supplied by Thales Austria and based on a Linux operating system (Qemu-AEOS5). TAS platform works or will work on various hardware architectures (x86, PowerPC and ARM)

> What were the achievements and activities during this mission?

• Coding of a strong version of the sequencer of the application software MEI (addition of a process of supervision of the cycle time)

• Configuring software to integrate external communication layer of TAS platform (OCS version 3.x, One Channel Safe, software component achieving the external communication of the system via redundant physical links and integrating various communication protocols)

• Preparation of a demonstration of a first software version of the application software MEI on TAS platform (hardware architecture x86)

• Update of FEC interface, the PIPC system external digital interface that acquires and controls track elements through FEC equipment (updated detailed design and interface code)

• Software configuration work to migrate the MEI application from a 2oo3 platform to a 2x2oo2 platform (NMR)

> What were the deliverables/results delivered in Thales?

• The diagnosis tools of TAS platform show that the new coded version of the sequencer of the application software MEI realizes the expected objective

• This software configuration integrating OCS 3.x allowed a strong operating of the system

• The demonstration had a wide audience within the railway department with positive returns

• The FEC interface update is operational

• NMR configuration is operational on emulated platform

> What technologies were needed to carry out this project?

C language, GIT, Quemu (calculator emulation), TAS platform, OCS, EN50128 standard (SSIL4)

Thanks again to Pascal for this intervention.

Did you know that? We recruit several types of profiles in this specialization:

> Systems Engineer (requirements specifications in relation to the need, validation and qualification of systems and its equipment)

> Embedded software engineer (software development for electronic equipment: software specification and testing, software architecture and design, coding, IVVQ)

> Embedded electronics engineer (development of electronic circuits and their digital electronics (FPGA, ASIC), IVVQ.

It should be noted that embedded systems also require skills in the mechanical and mechatronic fields.

Are you passionate about embedded systems? Then there is still time to book your tickets for Germany: the Embedded World 2020 trade fair will be held in Nuremberg from 25 to 27 February! Engineers and developers from all over the world are expected to share their knowledge. This year, automotive technology is expected to be the main theme.

*definition of L'UsineDigitale


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