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Project summary

The research program can be briefly summarized by the following title: Interaction technologies for smart energy and e-mobility services in the Next Generation Village.
The theme of the project is on one of the main challenges that the world of Information Technology faces in the coming decades, namely the technology of the interaction of the machine with the surrounding environment. In particular, it will be focused on the development and demonstration of methodologies and technologies to enable a simple, efficient and sustainable interaction between citizens and services of the city of the future, in the specific context of renewable energies and electric mobility.

Our ambitious goal is to set up a lighthouse project, which indicates the direction in which interaction technology will move in the near future. First of all, the project will see a phase of the development of innovative methodologies and technologies related to the interaction between machine and environment, specifically aimed at the field of smart energy and e-mobility. Secondly, the methodologies and technologies developed will be implemented in a demonstrator, which will be built in a departmental space, so that the Department itself becomes a paradigm of how interaction technologies can contribute to creating the city of the future. Finally, the acquired expertise will be put to use for the development of an overall case study that extends the experiences made in the demonstrator on a significant scale for the Next Generation Village.

Overall development goals of the department

The focus of this project is on one of the main challenges that the world of Information Technology faces in the coming decades: the technology of the interaction of the machine with the surrounding environment. Extraordinary strides have recently been made in the acquisition, transmission and analysis of data from complex systems - think of electronic sensors, data analytics, artificial intelligence, 5G, robotics, etc. However, when it is necessary to deal interactively and in real time with unstructured and highly complex tasks, the data cannot be assumed as available in a priori known quantity, quality and type, but must be obtained autonomously by the system that is tackling the task, through an autonomous and non-preconfigured interaction between the system and the surrounding environment. In other words, it will be necessary to design and build a new generation of devices and systems capable of "learning interaction", i.e. collaborating with people and interacting with each other and with the environment, to establish a connection between the "physical" world and the digital world.

This challenge, which we will call "InterAction Technology" (IAT hereinafter) is highly interdisciplinary and therefore makes all the disciplines of the ICT area substantially inseparable from this point of view; on the contrary, it can be seen as their natural evolution, necessary to arrive at a real and effective machine-environment symbiosis. The IAT, in turn, is the keystone on which the development of the city of the future rests: deeply interconnected, environmentally and economically sustainable, with optimized public services and technological and social infrastructures that interact, with the ultimate goal to guarantee a high quality of life; what today is called smart city, on which considerable attention is also focused in the PNRR area, and which in this project is indicated with the more visionary term of "Next Generation Village", to underline the further technological leap necessary, compared to the state current, to arrive at the level of machine-environment interaction which is being thought of in the context of the present project.

The relevance from the scientific point of view is evident: the IAT is at the heart of the general theme of "complexity", i.e. the property of a system whose overall behavior emerges as distinct from the simple sum of the individual behaviors of the single components, precisely thanks to their interaction. This is one of the leading topics of multidisciplinary scientific research from which we expect the most extraordinary developments in the near future. It is no coincidence, therefore, that the IAT is the object of dedicated in-depth studies in many international universities (on the subject numerous master courses have recently been activated in prestigious universities all over the world), it is a point of attention of various scientific societies of absolute prestige (for example, the Italian Institute of Robotics and Intelligent Machines, I-RIM), and is being studied on the "ELSE" issues (Ethical, Legal, Societal, Economic issues), i.e. the new challenges posed at an ethical, legal , social and economic by the innovations induced by the IAT. Furthermore, the IAT will undoubtedly be the engine for the competitiveness and flexibility of the manufacturing industry, which is one of Italy's excellences and is the key to the resilience of the national economic system and other strategic sectors, such as energy, technological agriculture, health care, environmental monitoring, security, transport, infrastructure and public services.

Among all these possible areas of application of the IAT, the present project will focus on that of renewable energies and electric mobility, of extraordinary relevance for the aforementioned Next Generation Village. These technologies are already today acquiring a preponderant role from a technical, economic, environmental and social point of view; the transition that is already taking place will probably be completed within a very few years. At the same time, the opportunities offered by the tumultuous progress in the field of machine-environment interaction technologies, which are developing over a longer time horizon, offer incredible and in many cases unpredictable prospects and opportunities.

The vision of the project is precisely that of anticipating the integration between these two worlds, to present itself as an example of the potential of what will inevitably happen in the long run.

In summary, the research program can therefore be described as follows: Interaction technologies for smart energy and e-mobility services in the Next Generation Village. It will be focused on the development and demonstration of methodologies and technologies to enable simple, efficient and sustainable interaction between citizens and Next Generation Village services in the specific context of renewable energy and electric mobility.
Our ambitious goal is to set up a flagship project, which indicates the direction in which the IAT will move in the near future at the service of the Next Generation Village.
Therefore, first of all the project will be divided into a part of the development of innovative methodologies and technologies related to the IAT, specifically aimed at the field of smart energy and emobility.
They will be concretely implemented in a demonstrator, to be created in a departmental space, so that the DIETI itself becomes a tangible example of how the IATs can contribute to creating the Next Generation Village. Finally, the acquired expertise will be put to use for the development of an overall case study that extends the experiences made in the demonstrator on a significant scale for the city of the future.
The demonstrator will therefore be the place where the interactions of different electrical, electronic, robotic, biomedical, telecommunications and computer technologies are experienced, with the aim of interdisciplinary research aimed at the IAT. Furthermore, it will also be an innovative didactic and methodological tool for interdisciplinary theoretical-experimental learning, where the student, together with the teacher, is at the center of the interactive didactic experience for the development of new projects within the various study courses and doctoral degree of the Department. It will also act as a point of attraction for companies and external actors, who will be able to touch the application potential of the cutting-edge research developed in the Department.

Based on the skills acquired during the project, the case-study will extend the experiences made from the scale of the demonstrator to that of the Next Generation Village, thus strengthening the link between the Department and the local area and accrediting DIETI as an essential interlocutor for governing technological developments of the near future in the areas of the project. In particular, an extension of the methodologies and technologies concerning the IATs applied to e-mobility and smart energy will be proposed to two complementary cases, of particular importance: the first will concern the Federico II University, paradigmatic of a public body spread throughout the territory, the second a part of the city of Naples, an example of a densely inhabited urban settlement strongly interconnected with the surrounding realities.

DIETI is the only department of the Federico II University (and one of the few in Italy, within the large universities) to have within it the skills relating both to the information technology area and to a significant part of industrial engineering, specifically the whole area of ​​electrical engineering. Therefore, DIETI is one of the very few players on the national scene that can credibly propose itself to carry out a project in this area, from the point of view of the spectrum of skills possessed and the critical mass of qualified researchers it can put in place, thus guaranteeing the feasibility of the project in terms of achievability of the declared objectives within the foreseen times.
For the realization of the general objective of the project, of great value and originality from a scientific, technological and social point of view, a great added value will also be indirectly achieved for what concerns the overall development of the Department. Firstly, a very strong synergy will be achieved between ICT skills on the one hand and Electrical Engineering on the other; this will allow for a harmonious and balanced growth of knowledge of all the scientific areas of reference of the Department. The second added value will be that of creating a demonstrator, testifying to the design and construction capabilities of the Department, which will act as a point of attraction for Italian and foreign scholars, students, companies, thus acting as a driving force for improving the quality of research activities , didactic and third mission of the Department. Finally, the development of the case study will confirm the vocation and ability of the Department to act as a reference point for the territory in which it operates to govern technological developments in its areas of interest.

The architecture of the project is organized on four levels:

  1. physical and digital networks, which enable the IAT
  2. services provided through the networks, which implement the IAT
  3. experiences that combine the use of multiple services, which implement the IAT
  4. case-study of scalability of services and experiences at the Next Generation Village, which extrapolate the IAT

The networks will serve for the circulation of energy, people, objects and information; through them, specific services will be offered to the citizens of the Next Generation Village. The latter, therefore, using the various services offered simultaneously, will be able to have interaction experiences that will produce value from a social, economic and environmental point of view (quality of life, time saving, energy saving, efficiency improvement, etc.).

The development of basic methodologies and innovative technologies will mainly refer to the first two levels (networks and services) and can be applied in the general context of the Next Generation Village; the third level (experiences) will host the application and implementation developments, specific to the demonstrator created in the Department; the fourth level will demonstrate the exportability of what has been developed on a Next Generation Village scale. This architecture will allow an effective integration of the skills and contributions of all the research groups of the department, arriving at a result that would be impossible to achieve without the interdisciplinary synergy of all the scientific sectors of the Information Technology area and the electrical area.

Overall project development strategies

Existing, reallocatable and additional resources

The University makes available as a certain resource, to supplement the reinforcement obtainable from ministerial funds, two HR positions (1.3 PO).

DIETI has over 50 laboratories, active on ICT and Electrical Engineering topics. In these laboratories, the experimental scientific methodologies required by the theme of InterAction Techology to be developed will find a natural area for expansion, through the activity of the students of the study and doctoral courses and of the researchers. DIETI is also deeply integrated into the University Center for Advanced Metrological Services (CeSMA), within which it will be possible to further support the activities of this project.

DIETI makes one of its most prestigious spaces available to host the demonstrator which is one of the pillars of this project. Furthermore, given the high ability to attract funding shown in the last five years, DIETI plans to acquire additional resources to strengthen its position of excellence in the areas of InterAction Technology, renewable energy and electric mobility through participation in national funding programs and European countries, as well as through conventional relationships with companies.

Strategies for attracting talent

The demonstrator that will be built in the Department will act in itself as a very strong talent attractor, in terms of students and researchers. It will in fact be the place where innovative and interdisciplinary approaches, both didactic and scientific, will be proposed which will confirm DIETI as an international reference. DIETI will make use of more than 20 international cooperation agreements (also within the Erasmus Programme) and will make available funding dedicated to student and teacher mobility, benefiting from the extensive training offer in English already available in its degree courses.
DIETI, on the initiative of the Internationalization Commission which it has adopted, in cooperation with the University, will make use of the already funded International Mobility programs (Visiting Professor, Visiting Researcher) to attract internationally renowned experts in the field of IAT. DIETI undertakes to identify an internal space dedicated to Visiting Professors and Researchers and to offer them financial support and additional services to those guaranteed by the University, so that their integration with DIETI researchers is the fastest and most effective possible.

Management of the project implementation process

In order to guarantee the feasibility of the project also at the governance level, a shared and widespread governance structure will be implemented but with clearly identified responsibilities.
The responsibility for implementing the project lies with the Director. A Project Board will be identified, coordinated by the Director or his delegate, to monitor the activities in their evolution and to continuously evaluate the scientific productivity of the personnel involved in the project.
The activities carried out will be systematically reported to the Department Councils, so that all the personnel involved can be informed of the status of the project and share its objectives.
An international Steering Committee will be identified, to which the actions taken will be periodically reported, which will have the task of giving suggestions and indications on any changes to the program of activities.




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