REFLEXES — A Co-Designed Architecture for In-Network Control


Recent technological developments in sensing, communication, control and computation have fostered an emerging class of complex applications, called Cyber-Physical Systems (CPS). In these networks, a process is no longer bound to a specific independent device, but coordinated between several interdependent network nodes; and therefore distributed via a communication network. CPS are making inroads into an ever increasing number of application domains such as industrial automation (Industry 4.0), energy, transport, and health care systems. The deployment of CPS promises considerable benefits, including increased flexibility, efficiency, and adaptability.

However, the traditional separate and layered design of communication and control architecture prevents the ubiquitous adoption of CPS as the communication-induced unreliability and latency compromises the quality-of-control and may even lead to dangerous behavior. The core concept of the project has an analogy in nature: Within the human body reflexes are fast pre-defined simple action patterns, which are located in the spinal cord, i.e. close (in the sense of low transmission latency) to the sensors and actuators. Higher-level planning and control mechanisms are located farther away in the brain.

Therefore, the goal of this project is to develop a novel co-designed architecture for communication and control to facilitate the best possible performance of CPS given the available communication and computation resources. We introduce the novel paradigm of in-network control, which pushes control functionalities as close as possible to the process to be controlled exploiting the computational power of active network components - even if limited. We will move away from the ‘traditional’ layered communication architecture and deploy in-network processing of simple control commands bypassing the classical protocol stack. In short, the general objective of this project is to reduce the communication distance of control messages as much as possible (horizontally, in the number of hops, and vertically, in the time for processing) and to increase reliability by introducing deterministic processing of such messages. As a result unnecessary time delays and unreliability within the closed control loop are avoided leading to the best possible quality-of- control. The key methodical contributions of this project are i) a novel approach to distribute the control on a given communication and computation infrastructure including appropriate analysis tools for performance evaluation, ii) a novel software framework for in-network processing with real-time constraints by co-designing the execution of control and communication procedures in a single and fundamentally new methodology.

Our Team

In this project, we at COMSYS work closely with our project partners at the Chair of Information-oriented Control at TU Munich.


Principal Researchers

Students (COMSYS)

(Currently none.)



Students (RWTH)


For questions and inquiries regarding the project REFLEXES, please contact:


René Glebke
Cyber-Physical Systems
E-Mail: glebke[at]


This project is funded by Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) as part of the Priority Programme "Cyber-Physical Networking" (SPP 1914), which is also jointly coordinated by COMSYS and TUM-ITR.

REFLEXES Publications

Proceedings of the 61st IEEE Conference on Decision and Control (CDC 2022)
Publisher: IEEE,
December 2022
Ike Kunze, René Glebke, Jan Scheiper, Matthias Bodenbenner, Robert H. Schmitt, and Klaus Wehrle
Proceedings of the 4th IEEE International Conference on Industrial Cyber-Physical Systems (ICPS '21), page 334-340.
Publisher: IEEE,
May 2021
ISBN: 978-1-7281-6207-2
Proceedings of the 2021 IEEE International Conference on High Performance Switching and Routing: Workshop on Semantic Addressing and Routing for Future Networks (SARNET-21)
Publisher: IEEE,
June 2021
ISBN: 978-1-6654-4005-9
Jörg Christian Kirchhof, Martin Serror, René Glebke, and Klaus Wehrle
International Symposium on a World of Wireless, Mobile and Multimedia Networks: Workshop on Communication, Computing, and Networking in Cyber Physical Systems (WoWMoM-CCNCPS'2020), August 31 - September 3, 2020, Cork, Ireland
Publisher: IEEE Computer Society,
August 2020
René Glebke, Martin Henze, Klaus Wehrle, Philipp Niemietz, Daniel Trauth, Patrick Mattfeld, and Thomas Bergs
Proceedings of the 52nd Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences (HICSS), Wailea, HI, USA, page 7252-7261.
Publisher: University of Hawai'i at Manoa / AIS,
January 2019
ISBN: 978-0-9981331-2-6
Sebastian Gallenmüller, René Glebke, Stephan Günther, Eric Hauser, Maurice Leclaire, Stefan Reif, Jan Rüth, Andreas Schmidt, Georg Carle, Thorsten Herfet, Wolfgang Schröder-Preikschat, and Klaus Wehrle
In Proceedings of the International Workshop on Edge Systems, Analytics and Networking (EdgeSys 2019)
Publisher: ACM,
March 2019
IEEE International Conference on Network Softwarization (NetSoft)
Publisher: IEEE,
June 2019
10. ITG-news, 02/2019:7-8
April 2019
In Proceedings of the Applied Networking Research Workshop (ANRW '19)
Publisher: ACM,
July 2019
In Proceedings of the 15th International Conference on emerging Networking EXperiments and Technologies (CoNEXT '19)
Publisher: ACM,
December 2019
1st ACM CoNEXT Workshop on Emerging in-Network Computing Paradigms (ENCP '19)
Publisher: ACM,
December 2019
ISBN: 978-1-4503-7000-4/19/12
Jan Rüth, Ingmar Poese, Christoph Dietzel, and Oliver Hohlfeld
In Proceedings of the Passive and Active Measurement Conference (PAM '18), page 255-268.
Publisher: Springer, Cham,
March 2018
ISBN: 978-3-319-76481-8
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