ARTIST Graduate School on RT Kernels for Microcontrollers

June 14-18, 2010      Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna - Pisa, Italy organised and funded by ARTIST 


1. Introduction

The “Graduate Course on Embedded Real-Time Control Systems: Theory and Practice” (called the Eurolab10 in the following) was organized within the ArtistDesign NoE (cluster on Operating Systems and Networks). The purpose of this course was twofold:

- Introducing the most relevant concepts and methodologies used to develop a real-time embedded system, including fundamentals of real-time scheduling, control and distributed systems;
- Showing how to apply these concepts in practice, using an embedded platform and a real-time operating system to develop simple control applications and make experience with wireless sensor networks.

The course was hosted by the Laboratory on Real-Time and Embedded Systems (RETIS Lab) of the Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna, located in Pisa (Italy), from June 14 to June 18, 2010.

Organizing Committee
- Giorgio Buttazzo (Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna, Italy)
- Ettore Ricciardi (ISTI-CNR, Pisa)

- Giorgio Buttazzo (Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna, Pisa, Italy)
- Paolo Gai (Evidence, Italy)
- Pau Marti (University of Catalonia, Spain)
- Manel Velasco (University of Catalonia, Spain)
- Mauro Marinoni (Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna, Pisa, Italy)
- Gianluca Franchino (Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna, Pisa, Italy)

Technical Assistants
- Mauro Marinoni (Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna, Pisa, Italy)
- Gianluca Franchino (Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna, Pisa, Italy)
- Francesco Prosperi (Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna, Pisa, Italy)

2. Course structure

The school was structured as a five day intensive course with lectures and laboratory exercises. For the first four days, mornings were dedicated to theory and afternoons to practical experience. The last day was entirely dedicated to practice. The goal of the lectures was to introduce the fundamentals on real-time systems in scheduling, control, and networks, and to provide a detailed presentation of the Erika operating system, used for the practical laboratory part. Each day was dedicated to a specific topic:

- The first day introduced the basic principles of real-time computing and illustrated the most significant results on real-time scheduling and resource management.
- The second day was entirely devoted to the Erika kernel, to enable participants to quickly write a simple real-time demo, using the methodologies they learnt in the previous day. During the second day, 15 possible projects were presented by the teachers to the participants, who divided in groups of 2-3 people and selected a project to develop in the next days.
- The third day was focused on real-time control and explained how to design control applications taking timing constraints into account, and how to use control techniques to make real-time systems more adaptive to dynamic changes.
- he forth day was dedicated to real-time networks and addressed the problems of synchronization and medium access control that are encountered in distributed embedded systems, together with an analysis of end-to-end latencies.
- The fifth day was entirely dedicated to practical experience and implementation. The participants interacted with the teachers and lab assistants to propose a real-time control application, preferably distributed, either in a simulated environment or for controlling one of the platforms that will be provided by the teachers.

3. Practical laboratory experience

The practical part of the course required the participants to develop a real-time control application and exchange relevant data using a wireless communication channel, using the embedded platform provided by the school.

Each control application had to be developed under the Erika operating system, using a number of concurrent threads, with periodic and aperiodic nature, interacting through shared buffers or message passing communication channels. The low level code for accessing the hardware was already provided as a number of library functions, so the participants had to develop only the code for sensory data processing, control and wireless communication.

The participants had the unique opportunity to use and test different advanced kernel mechanisms and several types of communication mechanisms.

4. Participants

The course hosted 32 participants, from universities, research centers and industries, coming from 10 different countries:

5. Diploma

At the end of school, each participant received a diploma certifying his/her attendance to the course.
A final exam was available for students that wanted to acquire 3 credits, according to the European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (ECTS).

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