Ever wondered what it would be like if you or a machine were simulated on a computer? In a model that incorporated your analogue movements and characteristics and represented them in digital form?
These were the sorts of issues that the members of the Industrial Consortium SimTech e. V. focused on in a “Digital twins” group workshop.
Held in October, the event was the brainchild of the Knowledge Transfer Committee, headed by Prof. Dr. Alexander Verl, Prof. Dr. Michael Resch und Junior Professor Jörg Fehr. Their main objective is to promote knowledge transfer between research and industry and to share knowledge, requirements and expertise in this new field.
But what exactly is a “digital twin”? It’s a digital representation of a physical object, created with the help of data, models and algorithms. Aligned with real-world data, the twin can be used for analyses and simulations, providing findings that can be helpful in areas such as vehicle safety. In this case, the conventional crash-test dummy is replaced by a computer simulation using a digital twin. This allows the behavior both of the human participants and of vehicles to be visualized, which means that new safety features can be tested and simulated in a wide variety of conditions. In the mid to long term, these simulations and visualization will significantly bolster user confidence in autonomous systems, according to Junior Professor Jörg Fehr, a former doctoral student with SimTech and now PR in the Cluster.
The digital twins concept thus heralds an innovation that SimTech is seeking to study and nurture. Embracing the future, the long-term aims are to set up collaborations between research and industry and to stimulate basic research in SimTech on the use of digital twins.
In addition to funding opportunities, the workshop participants discussed the conditions that needed to be in place for such cooperation to be effective. The main challenges they saw were in the use of digital twins when it comes to questions such as what form software development would have to take and how licensing could be made effective.
However, the key issue for the industry and research representatives in the consortium is to guarantee dynamic interaction between both sides and to define how solutions can be developed for handling software complications.
The foundations have now been laid for further workshops, at which experts from the cluster of excellence and the world of business can flesh out the details of potential projects.