ASIA , Advanced Simulation Interoperable Architecture, is a European project partr-funded under ESPRIT, which investigated the specification, design and development of a System Engineering Environment to support integrated simulation activities.
The goal of the ASIA project was to develop and validate a complete simulation-support environment to facilitate interoperability of diverse simulation tools and allow the set up and management of integrated simulation activities, as a fundamental support to system engineering in complex systems.
ASIA has addressed this fundamental area of engineering with the aim of designing, prototyping and validating generic solutions (platforms) which could be adapted (customised) for application in specific fields of system engineering.
After implementation of a prototype software framework, the ASIA platform has been validated by applications in two relevant simulation domains: Space Communications, at Alcatel Espace (FR) and Road Traffic Management, at the Department of Mobility & Transport in the city of Genoa (IT).
Traditionally, the design process of a complex system relied on the development of a (physical) prototype and long set-up phases. The permanent technological innovation, the market evolution and the competitiveness of todays industrial environment require the system design activities to be highly reliable, quick and cost effective.
In order to reach such objectives it is necessary to validate the technical solutions and the design choices as soon as possible during the early system architectural design phases. This is especially true with mission- critical systems such as telecommunication systems, transport management systems, process control systems, etc..
In any industrial sector in which system engineering teams manage complex systems involving different technical domains, an advanced environment can solve the above problems by providing system engineers with:
specific tools allowing technical teams to achieve their design tasks such as architectural design, service availability analysis, cost evaluation, mission planning and control, etc.;
modelling and simulation capabilities: the environment should support simulation activities allowing the designers to assess system performance, dependability and behavioral aspects.
In order to meet these requirements, ASIA has developed and validated a complete simulation-oriented system engineering environment supporting the following basic capabilities:
definition of info-models, containing declarations of data and objects in the specific application domain;
system architectures design support, to allow system architectures to be described and simulated;
simulation architecture design support, allowing the user to define complex simulation structures involving and integrating different simulation models in the domain;
provision of distributed simulations capabilities, to allow complex simulation architectures to be simulated in a distributed, heterogeneous environment
Providing such capabilities within the system engineering support platform allows for an advanced environment supporting:
collaborative engineering activities in order to manage in a concurrent way the design of each subsystem;
design verification activities in order to assess the system feasibility and its performances.
The major difficulties are due to the heterogeneity of the technical activities and their associated design techniques, the discrepancy between design and modeling accuracy of the different subsystems and the communication difficulties among the different engineering teams in charge of developing the specific subsystems.
ALCATEL - CIT, Corporate Research Centre (F)
Alcatel Space Industries (FR)
Comune di Genova, Dipartimento Mobilità e Traffico (IT)
SAS, Space Applications Services (BE)
Softeco Sismat (IT)
UPC, Universita Politecnica de Catalunya (ES)
Politecnico di Milano (IT)
In order to fulfill the above objectives, the ASIA project has implemented a simulation-oriented environment by adopting an approach that integrates commercially available components with new developments, based on object technologies such as CORBA, OODB and XML.
The overall ASIA system engineering platform is shown in the figure below.
The main components of the ASIA system engineering environment include:
An interoperable software bus based on a commercial CORBA-compliant ORB;
A System Architecture Design Environment (SysADE) allowing system architects to:
define domain-specific info-models
hierarchically design a system architectures using objects picked up from the available info-models;
define and design complex integrated simulation architecture, starting from a library of basic models included in the relevant info-model;
A System Engineering Data Base (SEDB) to store the Business-Oriented Info-Models (set of classes and objects related to the system business), libraries of system architectures, simulation histories (results, input parameters, etc.);
A Simulation Configuration & Control Tool (SCCT) used for generating simulation models from (part of) a system architecture, setting simulation parameters, defining simulation probes and expected measures and monitoring and controlling on-going simulations;
Off-the shelf simulators, providing the “library” of basic simulation models;
A Synchronisation Service, on top of an ORB, allowing distributed (i.e., parallel) simulations to run on several workstations or computers;
Business specific applications covering specific needs of a company or project, such as those related with results analysis and report generation, architecture validation, management and groupware tools integration, etc.
The viability and benefits of the ASIA system engineering support platform have been validated and evaluated in two different, relevant engineering domains: space telecommunications system engineering, and road traffic planning and management.
In the road transport domain, the ASIA application was developed by Softeco and the University of Catalunya. It demonstrated the advantages of the ASIA approach to support traffic authorities responsible for mobility services in the process of planning, simulating and assessing traffic management strategies, as part of their usual work of managing an urban transportation network. To this end, the Traffic and Mobility Directorate (DMT) of the City of Genova provided the real-world test bed for the ASIA demonstrator. Specifically, ASIA was tested in strategical tasks such as:
traffic study and planning, i.e. definition, implementation and management of city traffic and mobility plans,
daily operation of several technical systems, including traffic lights, variable message signing (VMS), parking systems,
planning and management of interventions on road infrastructures, maintenance, road-works, etc.
The figure below shows the implementation of the ASIA platform for the road traffic demonstrator.