Remote working and online conferencing: the corona impact on Smart Mobility

“The project is fine,” says Gijs Dubbelman, Assistant Professor in EE-SPS’s Mobile Perception Systems Lab at TU/e. “Everyone is on track and no delay is expected. However, far fewer demos could be done than planned, so the valorization side is leading. Because of the coronavirus, there’s a (good!) focus on research.” He’s referring to the Smart Mobility project of Eindhoven Engine, in which co-located PhD students work alongside semiconductor
giant NXP on Deep Learning for Embedded Automotive Platforms and Spread-spectrum Modulated And interfeRence resilienT RADAR. Although the coronavirus has hampered much of global work and education, projects like this show the resilience of research in Eindhoven.

“Everyone is on track and no delay is expected. Because of the coronavirus, there’s a (good!) focus on research.”

Gijs Dubbelman, TU/e professor

Creative planning

Daan de Geus, a PhD student within the project, has been pleasantly surprised by the ease with which some aspects of the research can be done remotely. “I’m researching scene understanding algorithms for self-driving vehicles and robots, which they can use to gain situational awareness, and I’ve developed a method which is both very accurate and efficient,” he explains. “In principle, I can do almost everything remotely, so not a lot has changed. Working from home is different as I’m a little less productive, but – in general – it’s going quite well.”

For Daan, the main difference arises in communication with fellow PhD students and the students he supervises. “Normally, we’re in the same room and you can ask any questions and brainstorm together. You can’t do that as quickly through Skype or Teams. For undergraduate and master’s students, there’s also normally more face-to-face communication and it’s easier to help them when they’re stuck. It forces you to be creative and work more systematically: I now have dedicated days where I just focus on meetings, interactions with students or my research. I’m a lot more conscious of how I divide my time.”

Ups and downs

n spite of the pandemic, academia and industry keep moving forwards. This year’s International Conference on Robotics and Automation, for instance, moved from Paris to a prerecorded, online environment – including Daan’s presentation of his research. “The upside is that I didn’t have to choose which sessions or workshops to attend as everything is available,” he notes. “One additional plus is that it forces you to be much more conscious of what you’re explaining during your presentation. You might normally do it on the fly but now you really have to explain everything within ten minutes without questions afterwards. The downside is the social aspect, where you get the more creative discussions and ideas with your peers. That’s definitely what I missed the most.” With any luck, next year’s conference will have a physical space for the Smart Mobility project to share even more of their successes.

“It forces you to be creative and work more
systematically. I’m a lot more conscious of
how I divide my time.”

Daan de Geus. TU/e PhD student

More information about the Smart Mobility project.

Co-location is key for the CM-FDD-HVAC project

Since April, we’ve been working within the Eindhoven Engine Community. Unfortunately, due to the corona pandemic, we’ve had to work in a mainly remote/virtual way. One of our PDEng trainees started on 1 May, but could not get a visa to come to the Netherlands and now works from his home in Mumbai. The current situation requires flexibility and adaptiveness as it’s a challenge to keep the team connected via laptops and virtual sessions alone.

The coronavirus clearly shows us the importance of good health, which is also threatened by the effects of global warming and air pollution caused by the use of fossil fuels. The Paris Agreement set a goal to reduce CO2 emissions. The preservation of energy resources is one of the key issues in modern society and is therefore of great importance in the built environment. Building installations are responsible for around 35% of the total energy consumption worldwide and use, on average, 20% more
energy than is necessary due to inefficient operations. The application of Continuous Monitoring (CM) and a Fault Detection and Diagnosis (FDD) system can improve the operation of Heating Ventilation Air Conditioning (HVAC) plants by detecting faults. This supports their energy-efficient operation as well as their effectiveness when it comes to improving the indoor air quality of buildings.


Looking ahead to the second half of this year, we hope for growing cooperation and the involvement of all parties of Eindhoven Engine through co-location. We’re even thinking about setting up the whole team an Eindhoven Engine co-location as this would generate a novel way of working and promote involvement in iconic projects in this region.

In turn, this could result in increased interactions and ‘unexpected connections’,
which are difficult in the time of the corona pandemic. This means joining together with people to think differently and to help each other accelerate innovation through our collective, innovative and enterprising spirit. We need personal contacts to inspire each other and come to new ways of thinking. Meeting one other at the co-location
will strengthen the engagement between project teams within Eindhoven Engine. Let’s hope that this will soon become possible again.

*Continuous Monitoring and Fault Detection Diagnosis of large HVAC systems


Photo: Bart van Overbeeke