Control Systems Technology Group 2007-2012

Microsurgical Robot prototype from TU/eEvery few years research at universities is evaluated by international research assessment committees. This month, our Mechanical Engineering department was visited by such a committee, and the results will be published in a few months from now. Our Control Systems Technology (CST) group obtained previous period (2001-2006) the excellence rating for all items (relevance, productivity, quality, viability: 5555, see here for the report, p.76).

Update Oct, 31, 2014: we again obtained the Excellence grades 5 5 5 5!

As a preparation, the department, and each of its groups, made a self-assessment report. Below you can find the CST part of the self-assessment report.

Our KPIs as CST are for 2007-2012:

  • 30 journals/year
  • 5 PhD thesis/year
  • 0.6 journal/conference (177/315)
  • 1.2 journal/researchFTE (setpoint 1.0)
  • 1.49 MNCS
  • 17% (top 10%), 40% (top 25%) cited papers
  • 4.3 years average PhD duration until concept (end: 4.6)
  • <2% drop-out PhD students (1/56)
  • >50 MSc students/year (35% of ME)
  • 13.3 M€ funding = 2.2 M€/year (20% of ME)
  • 1:3 funding 2nd/3rd in 2012 (increased from 1:7)

In summary: we are proud of having created a strong and healthy group, with good funding and a nice working atmosphere! I hope the assessment committee agrees with us!

1.    Objective(s) and research area

1.1 Vision, mission and objective(s) of the programme

Our vision is that the major societal needs and challenges require a significant contribution by the Engineering Sciences in general and system theory, control engineering and mechatronics in particular. In our Control Systems Technology (CST) group we have chosen strategic focuses on applications in Energy (fusion plasmas), Health (robotics for care and cure), Smart Mobility (connected cars and clean vehicles) and High-tech Equipment (mechatronics), thereby creating natural links with the Brainport region Eindhoven and far beyond.

The mission of the CST group is to develop new methods and tools in the area of Systems Theory, Control Engineering and Mechatronics. The research focuses on understanding the fundamental system properties that determine the performance of mechanical engineering systems, and exploiting this knowledge for the design of the high-tech systems of the future. In particular, the research programme concentrates on performance-driven control and systems design, and develops robust and data-driven control theory, hybrid and networked systems theory, optimisation techniques and mechanical design principles aimed at high-performance motion systems, robotics, vehicle powertrains and control of plasma fusion as application areas.

The objective is to realise our mission by taking an internationally leading role in research, combining this with inspiring education for our students and actively supporting and initiating valorisation through spin-off companies as well as direct co-operation with industry.

1.2 Strategy

Inspired by our vision, mission and objective, our strategy aims at attaining leadership in research as well as playing an active role in education and co-operation with our surrounding high-tech industry. This strategy has proved highly successful in many aspects. In particular, we are proud to welcome each year an impressive number (40-50/year) of undergraduate students eager to finish their MSc studies in our group. All Master’s students participate in our research projects, and a large number of our PhD students are recruited from this group. As an important supplier of human capital and knowledge for the (global) high-tech industry, we have an extremely healthy portfolio of research projects, well spread over national (STW, FOM), international (EU) and bilateral (Industry) funding. While being this successful, we keep focused on investing in the quality of our people, who are our main asset.

1.3 Research area and subprogrammes

Our overall research strategy is focused on performance-driven design and control. The performance of a controlled system is defined as the extent to which the actual behaviour of the system matches the intended behaviour, while being subject to disturbances acting on the system and variations in system dynamics. Performance requirements can be related, for instance, to the accurate tracking of a set-point (motion) or to the energy utilisation (hybrid vehicles). Fundamental properties that determine and possibly limit performance can be found in both external sources (disturbances acting on the system) and internal sources (system properties, controller properties, quality of sensors and actuators etc.). Only by an integrated design of both the mechatronic (hardware) system and the (software) controller can the highest performance requirements be achieved.

The engineering question underlying the design problem of high-performance systems is how to find the best combination of controller and system realisation such that the performance requirements are achieved for all prescribed situations (disturbances and system variations).

The scientific question is how to exploit (model-based) insights into the fundamental properties of the system for systematic analysis and design, leading to a significant increase in the achievable performance. It is clear that the engineering question has a strong interrelationship with the scientific question, in which the former has the role of validation and inspiration for new directions of research. The research is structured in 5 subprogrammes.

1.3.1 Model-based Control, identification and Design of Motion Systems

Increasing performance requirements in motion systems necessitate taking the flexible, dynamic behaviour of these systems explicitly into account. New approaches are being investigated to exploit multiple additional actuators and sensors to actively compensate for system deformations. The increasing requirements justify an increased model dimensionality, complexity and accuracy, and associated control solutions. To enable this, we develop numerically reliable identification methods for complex systems with high-order dynamics and a large number of inputs and outputs. By connecting identification and robust control we can non-conservatively account for model uncertainty, and appropriately account for the system environment, such as by disturbance identification. New techniques based on identification and iterative learning control are being developed to accommodate reference-induced errors. Finally, the development of design principles for the mechanical design of high-tech systems, such as ultra-thin stages and adaptive optics systems, focuses on the research question of how to design for stiffness with high reproducibility and manufacturability, and sometimes for low cost and low thermal sensitivity. Applications are in the high-tech systems industry (ASML, Philips, Océ, FEI, various SMEs).

1.3.2 Hybrid and Networked Control Systems

In the design of many engineering systems it is no longer possible to develop the control system in isolation. Next-generation high-tech systems require tight coordination between computation, communication and control elements (the ‘cyber’ part) on the one hand, and physical processes such as heating, cooling, motion, vibrations etc. (the physical part) on the other hand. Despite the need for integrated design of these so-called cyber-physical systems (CPSs), the corresponding scientific disciplines have predominantly been developed independently. This separation of disciplines can no longer be sustained and urgently needs to be bridged. The CST group has taken up this tremendous challenge that has led to a strong scientific track record and a position as a key player in the field of CPSs in general and in (wireless) networked control systems (NCSs) in particular. Inspired by highly relevant applications including intelligent traffic systems with (wireless) vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communication, and resource-aware control for lithographic systems and automotive systems, new foundations have been developed for distributed control of physical systems over shared communication networks and resource-aware (event-triggered) control. These contributions are recognised worldwide as highly innovative and ground-breaking. The mathematical modelling of NCS and CPS require both discrete and continuous model ingredients leading to an overall hybrid system description. The CST group provides important fundamental developments in the area of hybrid systems that directly connect to the essential challenges in the NCS and CPS applications. The methods are being developed in close co-operation with leading industries such as NXP, TNO Automotive, ASML, Technolution, FEI, Honeywell, Ford etc.

1.3.3 Robotics for Care and Cure

The Robotics for Care and Cure subprogramme aims to advance the state-of-the-art in robotics in health-related applications. To enable robots to perform a wide variety of household tasks we are investigating the cognitive abilities of domestic service robots. We have initiated the FP7 RoboEarth programme, in which a framework for a learning database for robots is being developed. For both the domestic (care) as well as the medical (cure) application field our group realises world-class design of high-performance robots (MidSize Turtle, Amigo, Sofie, PRECEYES, Colibri etc). The use of predictive models during the design allows a highly integrated design process in which all relevant phenomena from different disciplines are taken into account, thereby also connecting to the subprogrammes 1.3.1 and 1.3.2. The success of this approach is evidenced by becoming world champion robot soccer in 2012, and the design of the eye-surgery robot PRECEYES, which can perform procedures that were not possible before. Finally, control synthesis methods for haptic master-slave systems are being investigated that can deal with uncertainty in operator and environmental conditions. In cure applications, the resulting controllers will allow the robot to copy the surgeon’s movements and force at the same time, for a wide variety of surgeons and patients. In this field we have broad co-operations with medical academic hospitals and SME industries.

1.3.4 Automotive Powertrains

Driven by stringent legislation for CO2 and other pollutant emissions, the automotive industry faces enormous challenges to find a cost-efficient balance between drivability and energy-efficiency. The introduction of advanced fuel-efficient low-emission engine concepts requires closed-loop combustion control to enhance transient performance of the engine. Ultimately, this research is heading towards integrated powertrain control, in which energy and emissions management of the overall powertrain is fully integrated. Moreover, the research on slip control of Continuously Variable Transmissions (CVT) and new high-tech powertrain concepts for hybrid and electrical drive trains for passenger cars and commercial vehicles is resulting in new innovations. In particular, the hybridisation of automotive powertrains leads to challenging research questions regarding technology, topology and control design. Concurrent and integrated design from component to system level (co-design) enables significant gains in performance and cost reduction. To derive an efficient co-design method, the theoretical concepts of multidisciplinary optimisation and optimal control methods are adopted in combination with scalable models and adaptive surrogate modelling. The search for computational efficient optimisation techniques has led to contributions to optimal control theory. Many of the research results have been experimentally validated in our Automotive lab. The methods are also being implemented at DAF Trucks, Punch Powertrain, TNO Automotive, Bosch Transmissions and other industrial automotive partners.

1.3.5 Control of fusion plasmas

The future operation of the world’s largest nuclear fusion reactor ITER in France requires significant advances in control methods for fusion plasmas. Our main orientation is on the control of magneto-hydrodynamic instabilities and the control of distribution of the current density in the plasma, using new sensor designs, system identification and control oriented modelling. Innovative control solutions for so-called MHD instabilities have been developed and tested in the TEXTOR (Jülich, Germany) and TCV (Lausanne, Switzerland) experimental fusion devices. The unique properties of the control-oriented plasma simulation code RAPTOR has allowed applications in state reconstruction, prediction and feedback controller design for the plasma current density profiles. A Veni grant has been gained for this work. An analysis method has been developed to determine the plasma boundaries from optical images, and the method has been applied in offline analysis of the boundaries of JET and MAST plasmas. Extended by spectroscopic data, the method can resolve the plasma equilibrium. In addition, a two-camera hyper-spectral imaging system has been developed and applied to plasma position control at TCV. The imaging is also expected to be applied to real-time observation of the state of the diverted plasma for exhaust control. Next to the plasma control activity, funding for 2 Goal Oriented Trainees (GOT-ITER) has been obtained in competition to work on the remote maintenance of ITER subsystems. Here, a strong link exists with the haptics activities within the Robotics subprogramme.

2.    Composition of the research staff at programme level

In the past years we have seen a slight increase in tenured scientific staff from 2.2 to 2.7 fte, while in the same period the number of PhD students doubled (from 12.9 fte in 2007 to 24.3 fte in 2012). To cope with this increase in PhD numbers, which expresses our success with respect to the continuous increase in funding, we decided in early 2010 to hire more postdocs to support the advisory work of the tenured staff. A significant increase in non-tenured staff resulted; see the second line in Table 2.1a which also includes our new part-time professors. The CST group was one of the first to add non-tenured part-time researchers from industry at the assistant and associate professor levels. This was boosted by the knowledge workers arrangement (KWR), in which the CST group played an important initiating and stimulating role (see Section 8). The supporting staff include technicians who are instrumental for our five labs (Automotive, Motion, Construction & Mechanism, Medical Robotics BV and Robotics labs), and also include a programme manager for robotics. Table 2.1 shows an overview of the composition of the CST staff.

Table 2.1a Composition of research staff at programme level [fte research]

2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012
Tenured staff 2.2 2.4 2.3 2.6 2.6 2.7
Non-tenured staff 1.3 1.9 2.1 4.8 8.3 5.0
PhD students 12.9 16.6 18.7 21.9 22.2 24.3
Total research staff 16.4 20.9 23.1 29.3 33.1 32.0
Supporting staff 2.5 2.8 2.8 3.2 3.2 2.8
Visiting fellows 7.8 4.0 0.1 0.0 0.0 0.9
Total staff 26.7 27.7 26.0 32.5 36.3 35.7


Table 2.1b Composition of research staff at programme level [#]

2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012
Tenured staff (1) 7 7 7 7 7 7
Non-tenured staff (2) 6 6 5 13 15 8
PhD students (3) 19 25 30 33 33 33
Total research staff 32 38 42 53 55 48
Supporting staff 8 7 7 8 8 7
Visiting fellows 11 5 2 0 0 2
Total staff 51 50 51 61 63 57


3.    Research environment and embedding

3.1 National positioning

Internal TU/e

The CST group co-operates actively with the Dynamics and Control (D&C) group, sharing several of the laboratory facilities: the DCT (Motion) laboratory, the AES (Automotive) lab, the Robotics lab and the Construction and Mechanisms lab. In addition, research co-operation exists with the Combustion Technology group within the department.

The group has joint research projects with various others groups within TU/e, such as the Plasma Fusion group (Applied Physics), the Electro-Mechanics, Electronic Systems and the Control Systems groups (all Electrical Engineering), the Human Technology Interaction group (Innovations Sciences) and the System Architecture and Networking group (Computer Science).

We participate in all three strategic areas, and have a pioneering role in the strategic area Smart Mobility. We were one of the founding fathers of the new Automotive educational programmes (BSc, MSc, PDEng). Steinbuch is the Director of the TU/e Graduate Program Automotive Systems. We are co-founder of the new TU/e High Tech Systems Center.

Through our RoboCup activities (Mid Size League, @Home) as well as by our support for the Automotive student teams (URE, Solar Team Eindhoven), we are initiating and promoting a large number of activities within TU/e, with both research and outreach impact.

Dutch position

The CST group actively participates in the Dutch Institute on Systems and Control (DISC) research school. Members of the group regularly act as teachers of PhD courses for DISC.

The group is a member of the 3TU.Centre of Excellence for Intelligent Mechatronic Systems, now called the 3TU Research Centre High-tech Systems(Delft, Eindhoven, Twente). Steinbuch has been the Scientific Director of this Centre since its start in 2006.

The CST group plays a far-reaching role in setting the research agenda in the Netherlands in the areas of High-tech Systems (PointOne innovation programme) and Automotive (HTAS[1]), and recently the Top Sector HTSM[2]. Steinbuch is a member of the Executive Board of HTSM and a member of the Board of AutomotiveNL. The group is an active research partner for the Embedded Systems Institute (TNO).

The CST group was one of the initiators of the Dutch RoboNED network, a research network for robotics in the Netherlands that brings together SMEs, larger companies and knowledge institutes.

The CST group also was one of the initiators of a recently approved STW Perspectief Program on Cyber-Physical Systems throughout the Netherlands (29 PhD students) with important contributions from industries such as ASML, Océ, Philips, FEI, NXP, Technolution and many others.

3.2 International positioning

The CST group actively participates in the relevant international communities such as the Control Systems Society of the IEEE as well as the various technical committees of IFAC. As a group, we play a very active and recognized role at the two major conferences in the control systems field: ACC and CDC, but also at specific conferences related to system identification (SysID), mechatronics, hybrid systems (HSCC, ADHS) and networked control systems (NECSYS). In fact, in 2012 the IFAC Conference on Analysis and Design of Hybrid Systems (ADHS) was organised in Eindhoven (Heemels general chair). In addition, our various editorial roles for top journals underline the group’s commitment to and importance for the control and mechatronics community. Within the precision technological area we are active participants in the Euspen conference, including contributions by demos.

The CST group participates in various EU projects such as R3COP, R5COP, Artemis, WIDE, MOBYDIC etc. We are the PI of the EU project RoboEarth (4.5 M€). The group participates in the Network of Excellence HYCON2, and its predecessor HYCON, a network around the theme of Hybrid Control Systems, which comprises more than 20 universities and research institutes.

During the past period we established a strong position for our group in the international plasma fusion community, and we participate through FOM-DIFFER in the activities of the European Fusion Development Agreement (now EUROFUSION). We organised two control-oriented fusion workshops (Eindhoven and Leiden) with the participation of all leading groups in this area. Strong evidence of our growing success in this research field is our increasing role in the European experimental programmes, reflected in the application of our control solutions at European Medium Sized Tokamaks (ASDEX-Upgrade, TCV), in the Japanese Stellerator LHD and in ITER and its successor DEMO.

During the past years we have been very active and successful in the RoboCup community, being a finalist in the Mid Size League for 6 consecutive years, and becoming world champion in 2012. This has resulted in the organisation of the RoboCup World Championships (chaired by Van de Molengraft) and the RoboCup Scientific Conference in Eindhoven in 2013. RoboCup 2013 attracted 40,000 visitors and the queen of the Netherlands as guest of honour.

In the reporting period, several guests were hosted in the CST for longer research visits (>3 months): Egon Geerardyn (VUB, Oct.-Nov. 2012), Dr. C. Fontaine (University of Valenciennes, France, Sept.-Nov., Feb.-Apr. 2012), Prof. Jamal Daafouz (July 2008, Apr. and July 2010, Mar.-Apr. 2011, Feb. 2013) and prof. Pierre Riedinger (Feb.‐July 2012) both of the University of Nancy, France, and Dr. Jan Richter (Oct. 2007‐ Feb. 2008) of Bochum University, Germany.

The group maintains sustained scientific collaborationswith several recognised research teams (which have resulted in joint publications and shorter visits): Herman Bruyninckx, KU Leuven, Belgium; Jamal Daafouz and Romain Postoyan, University of Nancy, France; Sebastien Delprat, University of Valenciennes, France; Alain Bouscayrol, University of Lille, France; Lino Guzzella and Raffaello D’Andrea, ETH Zürich, Switzerland; Oliver Zweigle, Universität Stuttgart, Germany; Andy Teel and João Hespanha, University of California, Santa Barbara, USA; Carlos Silvestre, Instituto Superior Tecnico, Lisbon, Portugal; Abhyudai Singh, University of Delaware, USA; Håkan Hjalmarsson and Cristian R. Rojas, KTH Stockholm, Sweden; Egon Geerardyn and Johan Schoukens, VUB Brussel, Belgium; Adrian Wills and Brett Ninness, University of Newcastle, Australia; Jan Lunze, University of Bochum, Germany; Dragan Nesic, University of Melbourne, Australia; Alberto Bemporad, IMT Lucca, Italy.

Most faculty members of the group have spent longer research periods (>3 months) abroad: KU Leuven (Van de Molengraft), ETH Zürich (Hofman), EPFL Lausanne (Felici), KTH Stockholm (Oomen), University of Newcastle (Oomen), UCSB, Santa Barbara (Heemels).

4.    Quality and scientific relevance

The CWTS analysis covers 132 papers (total number of journals is 177, see Table 5.1). The most important MNCS number is 1.49.

4.1 Most significant results/highlights

With respect to our quality, an important recognition is the prestigious Vici grant for Heemels, awarded in 2010. Because the proposals were written and submitted in the reporting period, we are also proud to mention the two Veni grants for Oomen and Felici that were awarded in 2013. Also, in the reporting period we started our work on the control of fusion plasmas, and we are proud to mention the important role we gained in the international plasma research community as an engineering group among the predominantly physics groups. This important role is evidenced by the fact that we were granted 6 FOM sponsored PhD students. Furthermore, the plenary lectures given at the SYSID 2012, MSC2013 and the ACC 2013 by Steinbuch, the (semi-)plenary lectures by Heemels at NMPC 2012 and ECC 2014, and the session on plasma control at the European Fusion Physics Workshop led by De Baar all further confirm the international visibility of our research results. The design and realisation of the unique eye surgical robot PRECEYES, which is now close to the next (industrial) phase, has attracted a lot of attention worldwide. Last but not least, we became World Champion in Robot Soccer in 2012!

4.2 Key publications

  1. Steinbuch, M., Weiland, S., Singh, T., Design of noise and period-time robust high-order repetitive control, with application to optical storage, Automatica, 43(12):2086-2095 (2007).
  2. Hofman, T., Steinbuch, M., Druten R.M. van, and Serrarens A.F.A., Design of CVT– based hybrid passenger cars, IEEE Transactions on Vehicular Technology, 58(2):572–587 (2009).
  3. Aangenent, W.H.T.M., Witvoet, G., Heemels, W.P.M.H., Molengraft, M.J.G. van de, Steinbuch, M., Performance analysis of reset control systems, International Journal of Robust and Nonlinear Control, 20:1213-1233 (2010).
  4. Heemels, W.P.M.H. , Teel, A.R , Wouw N. van de, Nešic, D., Networked Control Systems with Communication Constraints: Tradeoffs between Transmission Intervals, Delays and Performance, IEEE Transactions on Automatic Control, 55(8):1781-1796 (2010).
  5. Hennen, B.A., Westerhof, E., Nuij, P.W.J.M., Oosterbeek, J.W., Baar, M.R. de, Bongers, W.A., Bürger, A., Thoen, D.J. and Steinbuch, M., Real-time control of tearing modes using a line-of-sight electron cyclotron emission diagnostic, Plasma Physics and Controlled Fusion, 52(10):104006-1/20 (2010).
  6. Oomen, T., Bosgra, O., System identification for achieving robust performance, Automatica, 48(9):1975-1987 (2012).

4.3 Number of articles in top 10% and top 25% of publications relevant to the discipline

Of the analysed papers by the CWTS citation analysis, 17% are in the top 10%, and 40% are in the top 25%. This shows our impact is well above the world average.

4.4 Most important books or chapters of books

  1. Heemels, W.P.M.H., Wouw, N. van de, Stability and stabilization of networked control systems. Networked Control Systems, Berlin: Springer pp. 203-253 (2011).
  2. Naus, G.J.L., Ploeg, J., Molengraft, M.J.G. van de, Heemels, W.P.M.H., Steinbuch, M. (2010). A Model Predictive Control Approach to Design a Parameterized Adaptive Cruise Control. Automotive Model Predictive Control Models: Methods and Applications. Berlin / Heidelberg: Springer pp. 273-284 (2010).
  3. Bemporad, A., Heemels W.P.M.H., Johansson M. (Eds.), ‘Networked Control Systems’, Lecture notes in control and information sciences,Volume 406, Springer-Verlag, London (2010).
  4. Jager, A.G. de, Keulen, T.A.J. van, Kessels, J.C., Optimal Control of Hybrid Vehicles, Springer-Verlag London, 2013(Chinese translation forthcoming) (2013).
  5. Bedem, L.v.d., Naus, G.J.L.,Steinbuch, M., Robotic Surgery, Yearbook of Science & Technology 2012, pp. 226-228, McGraw-Hill (2012).

5.    Output

5.1 Number of publications

The output of the CST group in the reporting period is shown in Table 5.1. The average number of refereed journal papers equals 30/year. The ratio refereed journal papers/conference papers is 0.6 (177/315). The ratio of journal papers and research staff (fte, line 1 in Table 2.1a), yields the number 1.2 (177/155) which is indeed above our set-point of at least 1.0. The number of PhD theses equals 5/year resulting in almost 6 journal papers (177/31) per thesis. However, given an average (and target!) of 3 journal papers per PhD, this number of 6 indicates that we also generate scientific output independent of our PhD student projects. This includes contributions from our scientific staff, our master’s students and postdocs. The number of patents meets our ambition and contributes to our valorisation.

Table 5.1. Number of academic publications and other research output

Publications   2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 6 year total
Academic publications Refereed articles 22(8) 32(12) 32(17) 30(6) 26(5) 35(6) 177(54)
Ref. conference papers 70(16) 63(20) 69(16) 48(16) 34(9) 31(6) 315(83)
PhD theses 8 3 4 7 6 3 31
Book chapters 4(2) 2(1) 9(5) 6(1) 1 1 23(9)
Total academic publications 104(26) (38) 114 91(23) 67(14) 70(12) 546(146)
Patents 3(1) 0 1 0 1 1 6
Total research output (3) 107(27) 100(33) 115(38) 91(23) 68(14) 71(12) 552(147)

5.2 Number of PhDs (completed and in progress)

Table 5.2 shows the PhD efficiency by analysing the data of PhD students who started in the previous and current period. The gender issue has attracted our attention in the recent years, and we are attracting more female PhD students (currently 2). We experienced 1 student (out of a total of 56 PhD students) who stopped (after two years). Overall, 7 students managed to hold the formal defence within the 4-year period. The average length of the PhD period is 4.3 years until concept completion, and 4.6 years until the defence. The numbers reduce to 4.2 and 4.5, respectively, if we compensate for the additional 6 months (approved by the Departmental Board) that 6 PhD students were granted because of their active participation in the RoboCup activities.

All our PhD students take part in the ‘PROOF’ programme, which is a training series on professional skills such as technical writing in English, presentation techniques, planning skills, coaching of MSc students etc.

Table 5.2 PhD students
Enrolment Graduated after [years]  Total
Starting year Enrolment (male/female) Total ≤ 4 4- ≤ 5 5- ≤ 6 6- ≤ 7 > 7 Total graduated Not yet finished Discon-tinued
2003 4 0 4 1 2 0 1 0 4 0 0
2004 7 0 7 1 3 3 0 0 7 0 0
2005 4 0 4 1 1 2 0 0 4 0 0
2006 2 1 3 0 3 0 0 0 3 0 0
2007 5 0 5 2 3 0 0 0 5 0 0
2008 6 0 6 1 3 0 0 0 4 1 1
2009 8 1 9 1 1 3 0 0 5 4 0
2010 5 0 5 0 0 0 0 0 0 5 0
2011 6 1 7 0 0 0 0 0 0 7 0
2012 6 0 6 0 0 0 0 0 0 6 0

6.    Resources

6.1 Overview of the various sources of funding

The CST group has a very healthy financial position. The research funding that we have gained amounts to 13.3 M€, which is on average 2.2 M€/year. This is approximately 20% of the direct/indirect funding acquired by the Mechanical Engineering department, which we realise with only 13% of the department’s tenured staff. Table 5.2 shows a research funding ratio of 897 k€/fte tenured staff.

Table 6.1a Funding at programme level [

Funding: 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012
Direct funding (1) 60 60 65
196 262 326 288 586 661
1275 1446 2124 2147 2029 1745
Total funding 1470 1709 2450 2495 2675 2471

It is interesting to note the increase in the public/industry funding ratio, up to 1/3 in 2012. This ratio was a point of attention raised by the previous assessment committee. It is now clearly above our target of 1/5, and is mainly due to the Vici of Heemels and our new FOM funding. STW funding is on target. Within the industrial and contract research, we are happy to have a number of industrial partners that are willing to fund our research through bilateral agreements (without additional governmental support, thereby demonstrating the apparent and direct relevance of our research). The CST group is also very active within various EU projects and programmes.

Table 6.1b Funding at programme level [%]

Funding: 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012
Direct funding (1) 0.0 0.0 0.0 2.4 2.2 2.6
13.3 15.4 13.3 11.6 21.9 26.8
Industry & contract research (3) 86.7 84.6 86.7 86.0 75.8 70.6
Total 100 100 100 100 100 100

6.3 Research facilities & investments

The Motion (DCT) laboratory. The DCT laboratory is a joint laboratory of the CST and D&C groups. It provides a combined educational and research facility for MSc and PhD student projects. In the past few years we have used an H‑drive pick-and-place system, an RRR robot manipulator, industrial pick-and-place units, a 1-DOF medical manipulator with force feedback etc. The (mechanical and electrical) technical staff provide support and create a stimulating environment for PhD and MSc students to carry out experiments in the Motion lab. The real-time hardware, data acquisition and measurement equipment includes EtherCAT-based portable data-acquisition systems that enable students to use their own notebook computers as real-time control processors, as well as dSpace and SigLab systems.

The Automotive Engineering Science (AES) laboratory. The renovated AES lab facility was opened in September 2003. Since then, with the help of TU/e, Paccar and other parties, we have been able to renew and extend many automotive testing facilities. These include an up-to-date controlled drum facility that enables reproducible fuel consumption testing at full vehicle scale and various tyre test facilities. A powertrain test rig is used to test new algorithms for CVT control, and it was used extensively for the Empact project, a new EM actuated and slip controlled CVT transmission.

The Constructions and Mechanisms (C&M) laboratory. The Constructions and Mechanisms laboratory is led by dr. Rosielle, who is working in both the CST and D&C groups. In this laboratory about 6-8 PhDs and 10 MSc students specialise in the design and construction of machines, instruments and robotic systems.

The Robotics laboratory. Because of the successful growth of the robotics activities, we opened a new Robotics lab in 2011 combining our haptics as well as our RoboCup activities and RoboEarth project activities. The lab has a playing field for the Mid Size RoboCup and a simulated hospital room for RoboEarth and domestic environments for @Home. Also all robotics related MSc and PhD students are located in an office area close to the experiments.

Medical Robotics B.V. Labs. Close to the C&M lab, we started the Medical Robotics B.V. Lab in 2012, with the Sofie Master-Slave robot for minimally invasive surgery, the eye surgical PRECEYES robot and the new Colibri robot for reconstructive surgery. The lab is a common undertaking of the spin-off MRT BV and the CST group.

7.    Academic reputation

More information is provided in the appendices. M. Steinbuch

  • Distinguished University Professor (2013-)
  • Editor-in-Chief IFAC Mechatronics (2008-), Editor-at-Large European J. of Control (2004-2008)
  • Member EUCA (Administrative Council of the European Union Control Association) (2005‐2007)
  • Invited Plenaries ACC 2013, IEEE MSC 2013, Mechatronics 2013, SYSID, Brussels, 2012, IEEE ICAT, Sarajevo, 2011, IFAC Symp on ILC, Shanghai, 2009
  • Member Scientific Advisory Board Linz Center for Mechatronics. W.P.M.H. Heemels

  • Associate Editor ‘Automatica’ (2009+) and ‘Nonlinear Analysis: Hybrid systems’ (2006-2010,2014+)
  • Vice‐chair of the IFAC Technical Committee on Networked Control Systems (since 2011)
  • Member EUCA (Administrative Council of the European Union Control Association) (2009‐2011)
  • General chair of IFAC ADHS 2012, IPC chair of IFAC NECSYS 2013, IPC co-chair ECC13
  • Organiser and founding father of a successful series of biannual international PhD schools on hybrid and networked systems (since 2003 educating over 500 PhD students worldwide)
  • Various IPC: HSCC07, ACC08, CDC08, HSCC08, ACC09, CDC09, HSCC09, ADHS09, HSCC10, CONET10, NECSYS12, NMPC12, CPSN13, ICCPS14, ECC14, WC14, CDC14. M.J.G. van de Molengraft

  • Associate Editor IFAC Mechatronics (2008-2012)
  • Member of the IFAC Technical Committee on Mechatronic Systems (2008+)
  • Guest Editor of Special issue on Advances in intelligent robot design for the RoboCup Middle Size League, IFAC Mechatronics
  • Guest Editor of Special issue Towards a World Wide Web for robots, IEEE Robotics and Automation Magazine
  • Invited Plenary ‘Soccer-Playing Robots and Other Things’, 30th Benelux Meeting on Systems and Control, Belgium, (2011). A.G. de Jager

  • Associate Editor IEEE Trans. On Control Systems Technology (2003-2008)
  • Member IFAC Technical Committee 2.5 on Robust Control. T. Hofman

  • Associate Editor Int. Journal of Electric and Hybrid Vehicles (2006+)
  • IPC: CVT2010, VPPC 2009
  • Co-organiser with prof. J. Gover (Kettering University, USA) on special session on ‘Future jobs in automotive engineering’ with new education demands for the future at the IEEE VPPC (2009).
  • Member of the Modélisation Énergétique et Gestion d’Énergie des Véhicules Hybrides et électriques (MEGEVH) group, French network on Hybrid Electric Vehicles (HEVs).

Prof.dr. M. de Baar

  • Deputy project leader in ECHUL consortium (FOM Rijnhuizen, FZ Karlsruhe, EFP Lausanne, IPP Garching, CNR Milano) (2007-2009)
  • Leader ITER-NL work package 2: tearing mode control with and remote handling of ITER Upper port Electron Cyclotron Current Drive launcher (2007-2013)
  • Member EFDA Scientific and Technical Advisory Committee (since 2011)
  • Groupleader at FOM institute DIFFER. F. Willems

  • Invited lecture at Workshop on Open Problems & Challenges in Automotive Control, UCLA Berkeley, CA, USA, 2011
  • Organiser and tutorial lecture ‘Model-Based Powertrain Control for Diesels: An Industrial View’at American Control Conference, Montreal, Canada, 2012
  • Invited lecture at International Advanced Engine Control Symposium, Tianjin, China, 2011
  • Member of IFAC Technical Committee Automotive Control. T. Oomen

  • Guest Editor of Special issue on Precision Motion Control, IFAC Mechatronics. M. Heertjes

  • Guest Editor of special issue on Precision Motion Control, IFAC Mechatronics and of special Issue on Performance of Nonlinear Control Systems, International Journal of Robust and Nonlinear Control, Volume 23, Number 10, July 2013
  • Invited talks at ACC 2013 Washington, IFAC Mechatronics 2013 Hangzhou, ACC 2012 Montreal, ENOC 2011 Rome, IFAC Mechatronics 2010 Cambridge, ASPE Spring Topical Meeting 2010, Cambridge, ENOC 2008 Saint Petersburg
  • Organiser and chair of the invited sessions ‘Advances in High-Precision Motion Stages‘ at ACC 2013, Washington DC, and ’Control of High-Precision Motion Stages’ at ACC 2012, Montréal, Québec, Canada.



  • Best paper award of IFAC Mechatronics period 2005-2008 for the paper: A.W. Notenboom, D.J.H. Bruijnen, F.G.A. Homburg, M.J.G. van de Molengraft, L.J.M. van den Bedem, M. Steinbuch, Mechatronic design of an active print head alignment mechanism for wide format printing systems, Mechatronics, 17(2-3), 109-120, (2007)’
  • Best Paper Award of the Asian Journal of Control of the year 2009-2010 for the paper: Merry, R.J.E., Uyanik, M., Molengraft, M.J.G. van de, Koops, K.R., Veghel, M.G.A. van, Steinbuch, M. (2009). Identification, control and hysteresis compensation of a 3 DOF metrological AFM. Asian Journal of Control, 11(2), 130-143.’
  • Ngo Dac Viet won the best paper prize for the paper Predictive Gear Shift Control for a Parallel Hybrid Electric Vehicle at VPPC2011, Chicago.
  • STW ‘Simon Stevin Gezel’ 2011 award for the PhD work of Linda van den Bedem of the Medical Robot Design ‘Sofie’.
  • Bart Hennen won of the 2012 PhD Research Award of the Plasma Physics Division of the European Physical Society awarded at the 39th EPS Plasma Physics Conference in Stockholm, Sweden.
  • Hugo van de Brand won the Shell Master prizes for physics (2012).
  • Cum laude PhD (top 5%) for M.C.F. Donkers (promoter: W.P.M.H. Heemels)
  • Maurice Heemels received a personal VICI grant (1.5 MEuro) from NWO/STW in 2010
  • Best performance award Systems & Control Benelux meeting 2007; Ir. Gert Witvoet
  • ‘Van der Hoek Constructeurs’ 2007 award Rob van Haendel MSc thesis
  • ‘Van der Hoek Constructeurs’ 2009 award Raimondo Cau MSc thesis
  • KIvI Spijkerprijs 2008 (best Automotive MSc Thesis) for M.A. Beenakkers, Coaches: M. Steinbuch, Drive off control to prevent clutch judder DCT 2007.138, Internal Report (2007)
  • Kivi Best thesis Mechanical Engineering award 2012 for Frank Boeren
  • 2nd place, Aart-Jan van der Hoeven, Eric Bergshoeff, Emilia Silvas, Theo Hofman, Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV) Benchmark competition; IFAC Workshop on Engine and Powertrain Control, Simulation and Modeling, E-COSM 2012, IFP, Paris, France
  • 2nd place Hybrid TukTuk Battle by ENVIU between the Dutch and Indian Universities organised at SRM University, Chennai, India (2009)
  • RoboCup World Champion Mid Size League Robot Soccer 2012 (Mexico), 2nd in 2008 (China), 2nd in 2009 (Austria), 2nd in 2010 (Singapore), 2nd in 2011 (Turkey), 2nd in 2013 (Netherlands)
  • RoboCup @Home 3rd in 2013 (Netherlands)

8.    Societal relevance: quality, impact and valorisation

8.1 Societal quality of the work

Innovation programmes. The CST group participated in the IOP Precision Technology innovation programme, the Programme for High-tech Systems and the Mechatronics workgroup of the Point One Innovation programme (PPP, a >100 M€ programme). Here, we discussed the future roadmaps of high-tech systems with OEMs and SMEs and made a significant contribution to these discussions as co-writer of the semicon/mechatronics/health and robotics roadmaps. The same holds for the PPP HTAS for the Automotive sector, in which we initiated research and education innovations (see next section). We also contributed significantly to the forming of the new Top Sector approach and had many discussions with the Ministry of Economic Affairs.

Knowledge workers arrangement (KWR). During the crisis of 2008, we initiated the idea of hosting industrial researchers and engineers within knowledge institutes to prevent unemployment. We came up with this idea in November 2008, and it was realised in early 2009 by the Dutch government in a 200 M€ programme for about 1500 engineers. Within our group we hosted 20 people from industry for about 1.5 years. Of these, 15 were from a single project (DAF Trucks and its suppliers) on the development of hybrid trucks. This was a perfect example of how engineers from industry can efficiently take time to do research and benefit from the knowledge available in our group. It also led to a successor in the form of an HTAS-funded research project with 4 PhD students at TU/e (2 in CST). In the same spirit we have been involved in KWR projects with Océ, Philips, ASML and various SMEs, as well as a number of follow-up projects. From this KWR period, we were also active in appointing part-time researchers from industry as part-time assistant or associate professors within our group.

Outreach. The robotic activities gave ample opportunities to show the relevance of technology and engineering for solving societal problems. With our RoboCup team we visited many primary schools to show children our robots. We were on Dutch national television many times, and we organised the Dutch RoboCup Open in 2012, as well as the RoboCup World Championships in Eindhoven in 2013. The latter event attracted an audience of more than 40 million viewers worldwide.

With our eye surgery robot PRECEYES we participated in the BBC Horizon broadcast on Robotics (2012), with millions of viewers worldwide. We also gave a TEDx ‘Binnenhof’ talk about our surgical robot, with an audience including the present king and queen of the Netherlands.

Electric Driving: Policy and Outreach. In the reporting period we started our activities, together with the D&C group and EE, in electric driving. As a result, Steinbuch became a member of the Dutch National Formula-E Team (FET), a group of stakeholders advising the Dutch government. Since then, many interviews have appeared in newspapers and professional journals, and on national radio and television. Steinbuch actively started a blog on these subjects (>225k views since the start), and a Twitter account (>5k followers), thereby promoting the inflow of students into the educational programs.

8.2 Societal impact of the work

Human Capital. Our most prominent and relevant contribution to society is formed by our students. In the reporting period more than 200 Master’s students and 30 PhD students finished their studies within our group and started to work in industry or institutes. Our research is instrumental in providing them a good environment to prepare themselves for a professional life. Nowadays, having a degree from our group is seen by our surrounding industries and institutes as a mark of quality.

Medical Robotics. With our activities in medical robotics we are able to make more medical doctors aware of the possibilities of modern technology, and we see an increasing number of partnerships of CST with medical academic hospitals.

High-tech Industries. Our research results are being used in industry, for example: feed forward tuning and learning control (ASML, Philips, Océ), energy management (DAF, TNO), control of transmissions (Bosch, Punch Powertrains) and friction compensation (FEI).

Automotive Education. Our group was the initiator of a complete new line of education within TU/e: a new Bachelor’s in Automotive (hosted by EE), a new Master’s in Automotive Technology (hosted by ME) and a new PDEng in Automotive Systems Design (hosted by Computer Science). This is the first multidisciplinary programme, hosted by various departments and focusing on systems engineering, a long-standing wish of industry. Related to these developments, the group has also been active in making the link with the vocational education (MBO/HBO), realising a unique and frequently cited example of interconnecting innovation programmes and Top Sector research with education.

8.3 Valorisation of the work

Supporting Industry. Using the many contacts with industry we transfer knowledge through our people (MSc, PDEng and PhD level, see above), as well as direct transfer in projects. Examples are given above. In addition, we have already for many years been giving courses for industry ‘Motion Control’, ‘Advanced Motion Control’, and ‘Iterative Learning Control’ (in the reporting period > 1000 man-course-days). We have also given parts of these courses in Denmark and Switzerland. This has given us a respected and well-known position as the motion group.

Start-up Companies. As shown by Table 5.1, we are active in patents, primarily to support our spin-off activities. The CST group initiated IME Technologies BV, with two of our former students, with the aim of forming a short-term oriented consultancy activity around the section to enable fast transfer of knowledge to industry. The ME department liked the idea, and enlarged the initiative to department level. The CST group started also Medical Robotics Technologies (MRT) BV, a 100% TU/e‑owned company as an incubator for new commercial activities in this field. The eye surgery robot will be launched soon as the new start-up PRECEYES BV. In the coming year we will transfer MRT BV into CST Innovations BV, with the original idea of acting as incubator and enabling short-term knowledge transfer to industry. We achieved a number of STW Valorisation Grants.

Entrepreneurial Activities. The CST group encourages its members to take roles in society, for non-profit organisations as well as in consultancy or entrepreneurial activities. For all these activities the members follow the formal ethical rules of TU/e.

9.    Viability

The strong embedding within the TU/e as well as with the high-tech and automotive industry, and with the international physics plasma fusion society, enables us to attain a healthy amount of funding, well balanced between the various sources. We are able to continue our policy of being critical of what to do and with whom. In fact the funding gained also gave us the opportunity to invest in new (‘free’) PhD and postdoc projects, as well as in new start-ups such as MRT BV.

The groups’ structure is a well-balanced in terms of young and mature researchers, as well as scientific and engineering capabilities. The younger people are encouraged to write their plans in the form of personal research grants, in 2010 we gained a Vici (Heemels) grant and in 2013 we were able to gain 2 Veni grants (Oomen and Felici). At the same time we gained EU funds, and we will continue to pursue this. For the coming period we will appoint a few new part-time full professors (one of them being prof. Herman Bruyninckx, KUL, Belgium) to balance the workload and to further improve our international visibility and/or our industrial embedding. Another significant opportunity will be the new TU/e institute the High-Tech Systems Center (HTSC), of which the CST group is one of the founding fathers.

10.SWOT analysis

Restating our objective from Section 1 to realise our mission (develop new methods and tools in the area of Systems Theory, Control Engineering and Mechatronics) by taking worldwide leadership in research, and combining this with inspiring education for our students, and by actively supporting and initiating valorisation, we see the following SWOT items for our group:

Strengths (internal dimension)

–       We now have a healthy balance between funding obtained in competition (indirect funding) and direct funding, see also the remark of the previous assessment.

–       We have improved our journals/PhD ratio by a factor 2, compared with the previous assessment

–       We have a strong reputation in our research fields

–       We have further strengthened our role for the high-tech industry (doubled the funding)

–       We continue to be attractive for students.

Weaknesses (internal dimension)

–       The CST group has become large, which make the internal co-operations less trivial

–       Because we have so many MSc students within our own group, we are less eager to receive master students from other (international) groups

–       Our gender diversity needs to be improved.

Opportunities (external dimension)

–       We can benefit greatly from the TU/e focus on high-tech systems for the coming years

–       We can benefit from the development of the Automotive Campus in Helmond

–       We are a in very strong position to gain funding related to ITER and to the control design of its successor

–       We are in a strong position to contribute to the need to make valorisation not only a ‘buzzword’, but also to contribute to the wealth of the Brainport region by our Human Capital agenda and our start-up initiatives.


Threats (external dimension)

–       We are concerned about the Top Sector approach by the Dutch government. The move from specific towards generic funding leaves little money for demand-driven research. In addition, the appropriate processes for the allocation of funding have not (yet) been identified / implemented.

–       Our size (20% of the ME external funding, 35% of the ME students, with 12% of the ME staff) creates an imbalance within the ME department.

11.Strategy for the coming period


Table 11.1 Strategy for the coming period

  Strengths Weaknesses
Opportunities – participate in the new TU/e HTSC[3]- increase our role for ITER- participate in the Automotive Campus – appoint new part-time full professors- actively recruit female researchers- invest in CST as a group
Threats – generate ideas and influence policy-making on the Top Sector approach- rethink the distribution model of MSc students within our department – rethink the structure of the ME department and look for enlargement of the DSD part, i.e. define a new chair

[1]High-Tech Automotive Systems

[2]High-Tech Systems and Materials

[3]High-Tech Systems Center

One thought on “Control Systems Technology Group 2007-2012

  1. Pingback: Control Systems Technology Group 2007-2012: Excellent! | Steinbuch

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