Document Type

Conference Paper

Date of this Version



Suggested Citation:
Mangharam, R. and Pajic, M. (2009). Embedded Virtual Machines for Robust Wireless Control Systems. Distributed Computing Systems Workshops, 2009.

©2009 IEEE. Personal use of this material is permitted. However, permission to reprint/republish this material for advertising or promotional purposes or for creating new collective works for resale or redistribution to servers or lists, or to reuse any copyrighted component of this work in other works must be obtained from the IEEE.


Embedded wireless networks have largely focused on openloop sensing and monitoring. To address actuation in closedloop wireless control systems there is a strong need to re-think the communication architectures and protocols for reliability, coordination and control. As the links, nodes and topology of wireless systems are inherently unreliable, such time-critical and safety-critical applications require programming abstractions where the tasks are assigned to the sensors, actuators and controllers as a single component rather than statically mapping a set of tasks to a specific physical node at design time. To this end, we introduce the Embedded Virtual Machine (EVM), a powerful and flexible programming abstraction where virtual components and their properties are maintained across node boundaries. In the context of process and discrete control, an EVM is the distributed runtime system that dynamically selects primary-backup sets of controllers to guarantee QoS given spatial and temporal constraints of the underlying wireless network. The EVM architecture defines explicit mechanisms for control, data and fault communication within the virtual component. EVM-based algorithms introduce new capabilities such as predictable outcomes and provably minimal graceful degradation during sensor/actuator failure, adaptation to mode changes and runtime optimization of resource consumption. Through the design of a natural gas process plant hardware-in-loop simulation we aim to demonstrate the preliminary capabilities of EVM-based wireless networks.


Real-time systems, embedded systems, wireless sensor networks, virtual machines.



Date Posted: 30 September 2011