Cyber-physical systems are changing how people interact with engineered systems, much like the Internet changed how people interact with information. Cyber-physical systems connect physical infrastructure and objects to the Internet and one another by integrating sensing, computation, control, and networking. NSF is a pioneer in funding improvements in the fundamental knowledge and equipment needed to realize cyber-physical systems. By enabling a revolution of “smart” devices and systems, from smart cars to smart grids, these developments have the potential to reshape our world and give rise to smart cities. These devices and systems would be more responsive, precise, reliable, and efficient.
Such systems have far greater economic and societal potential than has been recognized, and significant investments are being made globally to advance the technology. The technology is based on the more established (yet still very young) field of embedded systems, computers, and software, which are used in objects like cars, toys, medical equipment, and scientific instruments whose primary function is not computation.
Following the 3 cyber-physical systems:
1. Transportation and energy
In the future, we’ll travel in planes that coordinate to minimize delays and driverless cars that securely communicate with one another on intelligent roads. Drones will deliver Wi-Fi to disaster areas and inspect the infrastructure for damage. A user-aware smart grid will power homes and businesses, using sensors to analyze the environment and optimize lighting, heating, and cooling.
2. Medical care and treatment
Smart medical treatments and services will be made possible by cyber-physical systems, revolutionizing the way healthcare is provided. Robotic surgery and bionic limbs will help the injured and disabled heal and regain movement, and one day even augment human abilities. Personalized medical devices will be interoperable with one another thanks to new operating systems, robotic surgery, and bionic limbs, which will be detected by sensors in the home.
3. Sustainability and the environment
The use of cyber-physical systems to advance sustainability is growing. Agribusiness practices are being improved, scientists can mitigate underwater oil spills, and firefighters are using cyber-physical systems to detect and put out fires. Cyber-physical systems will become much more capable, adaptable, scalable, resilient, safe, secure, and usable than the current generation of basic embedded systems.