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Industrial Control Applications

Control approaches are pervasive and they are an essential intelligent component of many advanced industrial technologies. Over the course of the years, the automatic control group in Padova have specialized in many applicative areas where advanced methodological approaches meet with impactful applications.

In this research area the group is supported by many companies, both SMEs and multinational companies, in different industries like automotive, home appliances, HVAC, oil & gas, packaging, semiconductor manufacturing and many more.



The research activity mostly concerns the development of models and control algorithms for vehicles and vehicle components. Special emphasis is given on the use of virtual prototyping tools, including hardware- and human-in-the-loop tools. The activity is focused on three main topics:

  • Design of control algorithms for virtual vehicles for prototyping applications

  • Design of vehicle pose estimation algorithms

  • Design of motion cueing algorithms for car driving simulators

Homepage: http://automatica.dei.unipd.it/people/beghi/research.html

People: Alessandro Beghi (contact person), Mattia Bruschetta


HVAC Systems

Efficient use of energy is one of the main strategic measures not only for the conservation of fossil energy resources but also for abatement of air pollution and the slowing down of anthropogenic climate change. The requirement of primary energy to cool and to heat buildings is an important part of the overall energy consumption in Western countries, summing up to about 30% of the U.S. and European global energy consumption, due to the increasing use of air conditioning units for cooling residential and office buildings during summer. The European Commission deliberated on the energy performance of buildings (EPBD), with the Directive 2002/91/EC, which imposes several actions to achieve prudent and rational use of energy resources and to reduce the environmental impact of the energy use in buildings.

This can be accomplished by increasing both the energy performance of new and existing buildings and the efficiency of cooling/heating systems. Advanced control methodologies can be applied to HVAC system management in order to improve energy efficiency, and regulation performance.

People: Alessandro Beghi (contact person), Mirco Rampazzo


Machine Learning and Control for Industry 4.0

The so-called '4th Industrial Revolution' is making disruptive changes in manufacturing, product development and business process management. This revolution is centered around the availability of data and their exploitation. Machine Learning and Control approaches provide the methodological tools to take advantage of such data for reducing costs, optimize processes and operation, increase productivity and uptime and much more. 

The research activity of the group covers Anomaly/Fault Detection, Computer Vision for Defect Detection, Statistical & Advanced Process Control, Virtual Metrology & Soft Sensing, and Predictive Maintenance issues.

Homepage: http://automatica.dei.unipd.it/research/industry40.html 

People: Alessandro Beghi, Angelo Cenedese, Mirco Rampazzo, Gian Antonio Susto (contact person)

 Industrial Communication Systems

The research focuses on industrial communication networks, that are real-time communication systems deployed in several application contexts such as, for example, factory automation, motion control, process automation, networked control systems, building automation and automotive systems; in the last few years novel paradigms for the industrial communication systems have emerged such as those of the time sensitive networks (TNT) and the industrial Internet of things (IIOT)

These specific types of networks have to cope with the tight requirements typical of the industrial scenario. Particularly, they have to provide real-time performance as well as high reliability and robustness. The main research topics are the following:

  • Real-time communication protocols design

  • Protocol modeling

  • Performance analysis

  • Practical tests on prototype systems

Homepage: http://automatica.dei.unipd.it/research.html

People: Angelo CenedeseStefano Vitturi (contact person)



Focus of the research activity is the development of advanced modeling and control approaches for mechatronic systems, in an integrated approach where the interplay of components of different nature is taken into consideration since the early development stages. Integration of hardware and embedded software components is a specific feature of the design approach.

The research activities include:

  • Vibration estimation and compensation in mechanical systems, induced by motor torque ripple and excitation of natural modes of the mechanical structure.

  • Development of virtual prototyping environments for multiphisycs, mecahtronic systems

  • Development of soft sensors and optimization strategies for home appliances

  • Research on dielectric elastomer manipulator for space applications

  • Modeling, design control (standard PID and machine learning based controllers) and testing

Homepage: http://automatica.dei.unipd.it/research.html

People: Alessandro Beghi, Ruggero CarliAngelo Cenedese (contact person), Mirco Rampazzo, Gian Antonio Susto

Plasma Fusion Devices

Tokamaks are among the most promising devices for obtaining nuclear fusion energy from a high-temperature, ionized gas (plasma).

In tokamaks, plasma is confined within a magnetic cage created by active magnetic fields inside a doughnut shaped metallic chamber; a current (of MA intensity) is induced in the plasma by transformer action and toroidal and poloidal field coils are fed with high intensity currents (hundreds of kA) to produce strong fields that provide plasma equilibrium and stability, and control the mass position and shape. 

This complex and demanding application requires estimation and regulation systems to provide robust reconstruction of the geometry and internal features of the plasma inside the chamber, and real time control to drive the plasma through different phases along the discharge evolution and thus guarantee the nuclear reaction performances. 

Ongoing specific research topics regard:

  • Plasma dynamic modeling and model order reduction

  • Design of algorithms for real time plasma boundary reconstruction

  • Optimal sensor selection

Homepage: http://automatica.dei.unipd.it/people/cenedese/research/fpmc.html

People: Alessandro BeghiAngelo Cenedese (contact person)



Particle Accelerators

Particle accelerators are used all around the world for fundamental physics research, medical diagnosis and industrial applications. These can be extremely complex machines, with thousands of sensors and actuators producing an enormous amount of data.

By exploiting this data, it's possible to reach new levels of performance, improve the uptime of the accelerator and reduce the effort required to setup, control and maintain it.

By discovering anomalies in the time-series of the process variables it is possible to predict the insurgence of fault conditions, or the breakage of a critical component, thus allowing to intervene in time to avoid it. The data can also help to model the beam interactions with the elements on the beam path, taking into account all the uncertainties, misalignments and errors of a traditional control system. This enables a finer control of the beam transport procedure, and higher quality beam output.

People: Gian Antonio Susto (contact person)