Hand in hand

[ITW] Dr. Stephan Rudolph takes us inside IILS, a company working with ArianeGroup that wants to make engineers (even) more creative 01-07-2021 |  6 minutes


Find out how a German SME pioneering innovative artificial intelligence (AI) concepts and IT solutions is teaming up with ArianeGroup to revolutionize the design process

© 2017 Dr. Stephan Rudolph

Aerospace engineer Stephan Rudolph holds the highest post-doc qualification (Stuttgart University, Germany), and has researched at top aerospace and computer science institutions MIT (US) and ENSICA (France). Co-founder of IILS in 1999 and its CEO until 2014, today he focuses on research and teaching, maintaining an advisory role with IILS.

What does the name of your company IILS mean and what is your business?

IILS really just says what we are – an engineering company for intelligent solutions and systems. It’s the acronym for Ingenieurgesellschaft für Intelligente Lösungen und Systeme.

Very early on we saw that AI offered huge potential, but there was a need to ‘translate’ the (essentially human grammar-based) language that programmers use into the (binary) language that machines use. So we worked on developing software to do this, with a ‘design compiler’ which automatically translates the programmer’s design language into a machine-readable executable model. This could significantly accelerate industrial development processes and thus improve competitiveness.

How does this connect with ArianeGroup and what is your collaboration about?

The field of application in which we are working with ArianeGroup is ‘automated routing’. A rocket needs many, many components that all need to be perfectly interconnected. There are literally miles of networks of cables and lines for transporting liquids or gases, and wires for electrical systems supplying data and power (called the ‘wire harness’). Our IT solution can support best-fit definition for this.

About two and a half years ago, ArianeGroup came to us with a challenge – to automate the digital ‘mapping’ of wire harness designs for their rockets.

Our collaboration today is proving very successful and we have great complementarity. IILS brings scientific expertise and specialism in algorithms, and ArianeGroup brings design competence, industrial experience, and a galvanizing vision.

ArianeGroup says:

‘Automated routing’ technology is an outstanding example of an innovation in the field of information technology and artificial intelligence that is directly related to the design of ArianeGroup’s core products, such as Ariane 6, and also offers considerable potential for exploitation in various industrial sectors beyond space.

What are the future implications?

Just as we’ve seen technological advances in robotics leading to machines taking over a lot of repetitive tasks or hard physical work, our design language software will release engineers from many time-consuming routine tasks (such as manual model updates) and allow them to concentrate on the essential creative aspects.

That might sound simple, but the wider impact will be huge, because computers programmed to be ‘thinking machines’ will greatly influence and transform the way engineers work.

What is your main goal with IILS?

At IILS, our long-term aspiration is to create the world’s leading design compiler for intelligent design automation.

In the immediate term, with our ArianeGroup partners, we aim to deliver an intelligent solution which almost completely automates the mapping of wire harnesses and lines for European rockets within a very short time at reasonable cost.

From there, we envisage that we could develop this into a value-added software tool that could be made available for the wider design community.

To find out more

visit the IILS website at www.iils.de and check out the white paper Total Engineering Automation on design languages.