From the Internet of Things to piloting planes
The French S3P project brings together a consortium of some twenty SMEs specialized in the development of on-board digital platforms. The project's aim is to develop a tool-box, or catalog of solutions, for programming connected objects. Safran has been involved in this collaborative project since its launch at the end of 2015, and there have already been tangible results: "The S3P platform has enabled us to carry out reduced-scale tests on Internet-of-Things technologies in an on-board system," explains Jean-Christophe Jammes, R&T Program Head at Safran Electronics & Defense. "We hope we can now integrate these technologies on board our planes and helicopters, with a view to putting the technologies into service by 2020-2025."
The technical issues facing the Internet of Things, particularly those related to collecting and transmitting data, are similar to those the aerospace industry will face in the future. For Safran, the technologies developed through the S3P can be applied to engine-control, flight control and landing-gear systems…"These crucial aeronautical functions are currently managed by dedicated computers on our aircraft," says Jean-Christophe Jammes. "For example, a processor recalculates the quantity of fuel to be injected into the combustion chambers every 20 milliseconds. In the future, with the S3P platform, these computers will be able to send data to the ground in real time and also have ancillary monitoring functions. The aim of this type of constant surveillance is simple: to improve equipment maintenance and anticipate breakdowns. That is the ultimate goal as far as we are concerned!"
As with connected objects in the field of health-care; data-processing reliability is intrinsically linked to the total security of the system: You cannot run the slightest risk of an aircraft's operating controls being pirated. At the same time, the S3P platform aims to create a common language for all application developers: "The technological challenge is to be able to host critical functions that can have an impact on safety and security in an open world," explains Jean-Christophe Jammes. Above and beyond the technical challenges and technological results, the project gives the industrial companies and heads of SMEs that are members of the consortium a chance to meet each other: "That is how we got to know the company Prove & Run, a software developer specialized in IT security for connected objects. We are going to test their technology in an engine-control computer system," says Jean-Christophe Jammes. Prove & Run recently won an award at the International Cyber-Security Forum that took place at the end of January 2017 in Lille.
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A collaborative project
The S3P project has a budget of €45 million over three years. It is financed by the consortium members and also receives €18.3 million from the French State, within the framework of the French Digital Trust. Companies from the health-care, home-automation, energy, automotive, railway and logistics sectors are also involved in the project.