My last blog provided a general overview of cyber-physical devices.  In this blog I will provide some examples of the enormous impact cyber-physical systems have on our current and future ecosystem.  In the paragraphs below, I will discuss two of the many sectors that are being altered and improved by cyber-physical devices. Cyber-physical devices are comprised of hardware and software.

Internet of Medical Things (IoMT) are cyber-physical systems whose impact on the healthcare industry will experience extensive near-term growth. Fortune Business Insights estimates that global cyber-physical healthcare market to grow from $89.07 billion in 2021 to $446.52 billion in 2028 at a CAGR of 25.9%. 

 Today, most hospitals have more cyber-physical devices than IT computers.  Examples, include MRI machines, infusion pumps, glucose sensors, surgical robots, respirators, and smart beds.  COVID accelerated the use of cyber-physical devices to monitor infected patients for heart rate, blood oxygen level, temperature, and respiratory rate.  These devices helped healthcare workers remotely monitor patients thus reducing their exposure to COVID.

Cyber-physical systems have become fundamental to the transportation industry.  Cyber physical chips control most of the critical functions of today’s railroads, automobiles, and airplanes. As the technology matures it will enable autonomous ships and ports, self-driving cars, automated passenger and freight trains, autonomous cargo and shuttle buses, and unmanned aircraft systems.

Today more than 90% of automotive innovation comes from the cyber-physical device software. New cars today have more than 100 cyber-physical control units. These devices provide many difference services such as limited self-driving, and maximizing engine efficiency to reduce pollution and improve fuel efficiency.  These systems also provide new safety capabilities including forward collision warning, lane departure warning, pedestrian detection, low tire pressure detection, blind spot warning and adaptive headlights.  This is reflected in the cost of the automobile — approximately 40% of a car’s cost is in the cyber physical devices and software. Car and Driver magazine estimates that by 2030 45% of an automobile product cost will be the cyber-physical device and its software.  Software is the predominate cost component.  It is estimated that new cars have between 100 to 150 million lines of code. The importance and criticality of these computer systems is demonstrated by shutdowns at car manufacturing plants and surges in the price of new cars caused by shortages of chips for the many computer-controlled functions of the automobiles.

Railroads use an integrated network of cyber-physical devices to track and monitor equipment performance and environmental conditions in trains and connected equipment to improve operating efficiency, traffic monitoring, reduce delays, and ensure the safety of trains, passengers, and cargo. For example, there are dozens of sensors and electronics on a freight locomotive that monitor throttle position, actual speed versus track speed, and positive train control.  Positive train control systems, designed to mitigate human error, are utilized to prevent train-to-train collisions, overspeed derailments, exceeding established work zone limits –which could injure work crews, and movements of trains through switches in the wrong position.

In our next blog we will discuss how cyber-physical devices are impacting other sectors of economy and lifestyle.  I will also address some of the future challenges and opportunities our society faces from enormous growth in number and criticality of cyber-physical devices.