EADS advances research in Singapore

 - February 11, 2008, 12:06 PM

Two years ago EADS decided to tap Singapore’s strengths in science and technology by shifting part of its research and development effort here. Today, its investment in the Singapore Research and Technology Center (SRTC) appears to be reaping dividends, and the facility is now conducting work in four scientific areas, having reached a staff of 15 and an annual budget of approximately $1.7 million.

“Our four teams work, respectively, on embedded real-time systems, embedded communication systems, electromagnetics and high-performance computing for simulation and modeling,” SRTC head Ulrich Schnaut told AIN. The embedded real-time systems team comprises seven of the 15 scientists, while the other three teams employ another seven, supplemented by a couple of researchers. The final scientist is working on data mining and fusion for another EADS research organization.

Schnaut also explained that EADS has “outsourced some projects to A*STAR, the Singaporean agency for science, technology and research.” One project focuses on secure communications and cryptography, while another focuses on biometric technologies for homeland security. They are conducted by Singapore’s Institute for Infocom Research.

The hiring of another four scientists is now under way. “Almost all our staff are either Singaporean [nationals] or Singapore residents,” Schnaut said.

What kind of benefit is EADS reaping from having set up a research center here? “High-speed computation, electromagnetism, data mining and artificial intelligence are Singaporean strongholds,” Schnaut answered. Singapore has the right environment for such research activities, he added. Moreover, some researchers have received local scholarship grants and therefore “owe” some time to Singapore under the agreement they signed. As a result, “well-trained people can be hired here very fast,” Schnaut said.

Another Singaporean stronghold has proved to be logistics. In partnership with the Singapore Management University, the SRTC is working on logistics simulation, which should help in the design of tools for decision making and spare part management.

Schnaut also noted the SRTC is ready to start work on some projects announced two years ago but that still await a green light from Airbus. One of those is aerodynamic flow control, for which some parallel work has begun with Eurocopter. Another example is development of wireless communication between sensor networks.

The SRTC presently operates in a 4,600-sq-ft facility. Major pieces of equipment were on schedule to be installed in the electromagnetics and electronic laboratories this month, along with significant computing capabilities.

Asked about the level of research and/or development in which the SRTC is involved, Schnaut answered by citing so-called technology readiness levels (TRLs). “TRL 0 is blue sky research, whereas TRL 9 is ready for serial production,” he explained. The SRTC’s responsibility includes TRL1-3, from “basic technology research” to “research to prove feasibility,” under commonly accepted NASA definitions. “We also work in specific cases at level 6, that of demonstrators,” Schnaut said.

EADS has unified and rebranded these research organizations under the name EADS Innovation Works. The SRTC is part of the organization, and under a transnational structure, is supposed to have links with all six technical capability centers: composites, metals, structures, sensors and electronics, simulation and advanced concepts.