The University of Southampton

Launch of ADVANCE marks new phase in development of cyber-physical systems

Published: 15 December 2014

Scientists from Electronics and Computer Science at the University of Southampton are part of a consortium launching a new systems engineering framework, set to revolutionise the design, verification and validation of complex cyber-physical systems.

The result of the EU-funded “ADVANCE” project, the framework provides an engineering process and a free-to-use toolset that addresses safety and correctness at the earliest possible development stage. The ADVANCE toolset has been launched as an upgrade to the existing open-source Rodin platform, extending the capabilities of Rodin with more powerful and innovative verification and simulation capabilities.

Current engineering practices mean that designing cyber-physical systems to high assurance levels is often prohibitively expensive. Three years in the making, the newly launched features will help engineers to reduce the costs of system development by providing accurate models that simulate system behaviour. This means that issues can be identified and design errors eliminated as early in the development lifecycle as possible. The toolset’s new formal verification features will also help engineers to more efficiently test critical systems in ensuring suitable safety-assurance levels.

The upgraded platform has already demonstrated its ability to improve the designs of “event-driven” systems, such as those controlling railway interlocking functions and low-voltage smart grids, and is capable of supporting the development of systems from a broad range of industries. At “Industry Days” held in Southampton and Düsseldorf, the platform’s capabilities were demonstrated by industrial users in the railway, smart energy and defence sectors.

Professor Michael Butler, of the Electronic and Software Systems research group and Scientific Coordinator of the ADVANCE consortium, said: “It is widely recognised that development costs will become prohibitive for future systems unless significant improvements are made in the methods and tools used for systems engineering. The Rodin toolset is unique in addressing both simulation and formal verification within a single framework, in a cost-effective way.”

José Reis, Principal Consultant Engineer at Critical Software Technologies Ltd, added “Rodin’s new visualisations and simulations will be clear even to non-specialists, allowing engineers to efficiently understand the technical details and consequences of the system they are working on, more effectively fixing errors well in advance of any commitments to a final design.”

The new features are freely available as part of the Rodin open-source platform, which can be downloaded at

Following the success of the project, the ADVANCE consortium is now looking for further funding streams to continue to develop Rodin’s capabilities, which will enable the platform to handle even larger system-modelling capabilities while introducing further features. In addition to the University of Southampton, the consortium includes CRITICAL Software Technologies, Alstom Transport, Selex ES, Systerel and the University of Düsseldorf.

Further details of the ADVANCE project are available on the project website:

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