A New Patent Grant for a Novel Method and Device Developed in KONČAR

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The successful, multi-year collaboration of KONČAR – Electrical Engineering Institute and KONČAR – Engineering (KET) resulted in a new intellectual achievement. A patent for the invention


authored by Mario Bilić (KONČAR – Institute) and Davor Mraović (KONČAR – KET), was published before the European Patent Office.

When it comes to the automation of railway traffic, nuclear power plants, or, for example, ship instruments and aviation, functional safety is one of the most important aspects. The prerequisite for achieving the functional safety of such systems is reliable signaling.

Currently, available solutions used for this purpose have certain technical limitations. Apart from the ability to indicate “working” or “not working” signaling paths, other possible causes that can lead to the desynchronization of safety units remain hidden from the human observer. Based on this, it is possible to conclude that the existing solutions do not provide enough information to intuitively assess a malfunction or potential danger in a specific system.

“The main challenge was how to safely display the states of vital signals to a human on a standard computer LCD screen.” – Mario Bilić, KONČAR – Electrical Engineering Institute

Guided by this challenge, the expert team of the KONČAR – Institute and KONČAR – KET created a system that will greatly contribute to increasing safety and reliability when automating systems from the mentioned areas. It is an invention that represents a novel method and device for displaying safety unit signals with information related to increasing the reliability of the displayed signals on the screen. By introducing an animated glint graphic effect, in addition to an already known solution in the art, this invention reliably solves the observed problem. The glint graphical effect demonstrates to the human safe comparator any phase decoherence, i.e., desynchronization, among the redundant signaling paths and that the corresponding hardware – each processing unit for processing the redundant signal – is working flawlessly.

“Signal security in technology is achieved by doubling, which in this case means that the state of the signal is determined by two computers and sent through different paths. However, the screen shown to the human is one, and the human expects one symbol for each signal. We applied the idea of dividing each such symbol into two parts so that each part would be controlled separately by one of those two signals. One can easily notice that the two halves of the symbol are of different colors. This approach is not new, but it was insufficient from the point of view of time synchronization of the signal and the computer controlling one symbol. We introduced a completely new approach of a traveling “light beam” that constantly passes over the symbol, and the position of the “beam” is determined by the computers sending the signal, each for itself. In this way, it is possible for a person to easily notice the refraction of that beam if there is a divergence of synchronization.

The possibilities of security computers at the time of development were also a challenge, and the realization of the idea required an additional effort in optimization, so it took years to design, implement, and subsequently the patenting process.” – Mario Bilić, KONČAR – Electrical Engineering Institute

Concerning the main field of application, the disclosed invention belongs to the class of safety arrangements for indicating malfunction of signaling devices or corresponding redundant signaling paths, mainly used in the aforementioned areas. The disclosed method and device are applicable everywhere where the human is the safe comparator of received redundant signals.