The Daily Pennsylvanian is a student-run nonprofit.

Please support us by disabling your ad blocker on our site.

CIS associate professor Linh Thi Xuan Phan (Photo from the School of Engineering).

Penn researcher and Computer and Information Science professor Linh Thi Xuan Phan joins a cyber-physical project that plans to create the newest transportation systems. 

The Cyber-Physical Systems program is a branch of the National Science Foundation that funds engineered projects. Phan joins one of the foundation’s funded projects, a $5.7 million research study that aims “to rethink the modeling, analyzing, and designing of a new generation of intelligent transportation systems” through cyber-physical systems technology, according to University of California Santa Cruz News.

Cyber-physical systems integrate computational algorithms with physical infrastructure, connecting them to the internet and among themselves. Cyber-physical systems have applications in transportation, health care, and sustainability. 

The project plans to design the algorithms and hardware that will enable cyber-physical systems to increase their performance while keeping costs low.

During the project, principal investigators will involve and mentor students from underrepresented backgrounds from grades K-12 to doctorate students via UCSC’s Science Internship Program, the Shadow the Scientists initiative, and the Mathematics, Engineering, Science Achievement College Prep program, according to USCS News. The software developed will also be open source, allowing anyone to use the research to advance the CPS field. 

Phan joined the project with the goal of increasing the adaptivity of cyber-physical systems by creating new control algorithms which can provide the best feedback for use.

“Adaptivity is really critical to making self-driving cars safe,” Phan told Penn Engineering Today. “Imagine what would happen if a self-driving car on an icy road stopped getting data from its collision avoidance systems while switching to a new handling mode. Even if that switch only takes a tiny fraction of a second, the car might crash by the time the transition finishes.”

The Cyber-Physical Systems project is a collaboration among several domestic and international universities and institutions. Phan will join scientists from UCSC, UC Berkeley, Vanderbilt University, the University of Colorado Boulder, the Norwegian University of Science Technology, Italy’s IMT School for Advanced Studies Lucca, Toyota, Joby Aviation, and Summer Robotics. 

“This research will have direct impact in the rapidly growing, multi-billion dollar autonomous systems market,” Ricardo Sanfelice, lead principal investigator on the project, said to UCSC News. “We envision that our results will have a broad impact by improving the safety and reliability of transportation systems, such as aviation systems and self-driving vehicles, in particular, by reducing the carbon footprint of these systems, and training the workforce of the future in key CPSs science.”