My ABB internship – phase two of developing a new type of predictive controller

The plan is to test the new predictive controller in a water-pumping system and in a servomotor to assess its efficacy.

Since the beginning of March I’ve been working to develop a proof-of-concept for a “new” type of controller. This means I am building a simple version of a controller to test the feasibility of a new approach. If successful, the technology can then be improved, scaled, and it may be applied in future products.

What can it be used for?

Controllers are used widely in today’s technology: industrial processes, automotive applications, aerospace industry, among others. They are capable of monitoring a system’s operation and controlling its future behaviour. The controller I am working with could end up being used in almost any application but, for now, the plan is to test it in a water-pumping system and in a servomotor to assess its efficacy.


Control has been around for quite some time and it’s widely used. The novelty in my project comes from the usage of parallel processing in a predictive controller. Predictive controllers calculate the input for a certain system by comparing its actual state with a programmed desirable behaviour in order to match them. Predictive control problems can easily become very complex and difficult to handle. However, it is very likely that they could be solved more efficiently with the use of multiple processors rather than a single processing unit (the usual approach). This possibility has motivated my research and I have been exploring it for the past two months.

How am I doing it?

In order to develop the project I have been using one FPGA (Field-Programmable Gate Array) from Xilinx as main tool in which I implemented a multiprocessor architecture. I am programming the system using the C language. While I was not a stranger to some of the tools / concepts I am using, the amount of learning is incredible.

The status

I am happy with the developments so far. I already have a basic working version of the controller and the next steps will be its improvement and testing in a real situation.

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About the author

Gonçalo Guerreiro

I am currently working as an intern at the ABB Corporate Research Center (CRC) in Krakow. I started studying Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Lisbon, my hometown, and have just recently finished my KIC InnoEnergy Master Degree in Energy Technologies at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology. I am also a member of the Board of European Students of Technology. While searching for my first job/internship, I joined the “Blind Applying Campaign” which ultimately brought me to ABB for three months. I am looking forward to having a taste of what corporate research is like, as well as developing my skills with this experience.
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