Researchers at the Technische Universität Dresden have developed the first self-organizing electronic components.
The scientists were inspired by the behaviour of complex systems found in nature. If individual cells die off, the organism continues to function. This is because each cell is autonomous in its function. If necessary, other cells can even step into the breach and take on a replacement function.
Each single element of the technical systems is given autonomy so they are able to communicate with the other system units and to co-operate.
The controlling unit can react upon stimuli sent by diverse elements. If an electronic control unit breaks down, then another control function can integrate a new element and take on its function. For example, if the control switch for an electric window in an automobile should malfunction, then the driver would initiate an autonomous reconfiguration of the system. As a result, the window control unit receives its information from another switch, making it possible to close the window using that different switch.
The team has developed a test vehicle known as August 1 to test the concept.
The scientists hope that automotive electronics can be made even more reliable by decentralizing its functioning. In the field of technology this principle has until now only been applied with computers: USB ports are used to attach various external devices, which the computer recognizes, accepts and integrates.