Bordeaux University, IMS-lab, Building A31
351 cours de la Libération - 33405 Talence - France
Email: - Tel : +33 5 4000 2416 (direct)

Author: admin_AZ

Postdoctoral openings

2019 (closed):

  • Sara IFQIR started on December 2, 2019. She is working on the COCOTIER Project. See her CV at here.
  • After a two-year postdoc position in Bordeaux supported by SysNum, Willy Alejandro Apaza Perez left IMS-lab in May 2020 for L2S-lab (Paris) to continue his research under the supervision of Dr. Antoine Girard. Good continuation Alejandro !

2020 (closed):

Due to coronavirus outbreak, postdoc recruitment in 2020 has been delayed to fall 2020.

I am looking for outstanding and highly motivated people willing to work on challenging scientific projects. Two postdoctoral openings are planned for 2020:

  • Download the first call at here. If you would like to apply for, please send your resume by email to and
  • The second postdoc position will be announced latter. The topic will be related to autonomous navigation issues in future civil aviation operations, as investigated in the COCOTIER project.

Advanced model-based FDI technologies for A350 fleet: IFAC Blog — April 22, 2020

Today, Airbus A350 XWB is undoubtedly the most modern and efficient commercial jetliner in the world. Since January 2015, this aircraft is flying worldwide with a high performance robust model-based monitoring method on-boarded. This exceptional achievement has been resulted from an inspiring collaboration between my research team and Airbus on FDIR issues in aircraft systems, starting with mid-2000s. With current certification standards in civil aviation, extremely rigorous specifications are to be satisfied, not only in nominal flight regimes, but also in extreme, unusual, non-standard/off-nominal and unexpected flight conditions. Achieving flight-proven and certified model-based systems has been a tall order and required several years of research and innovation, V&V activities and maturation.

Five years after the first A350 commercial flight, this note posted on the IFAC Blog and IFAC social media looks back at some lessons learnt from this amazing success story. The note has been prepared by Dr. Philippe Goupil (eXpert FDIR – A/C Control Architecture & Functions, Airbus, Toulouse – France) and myself.

What next ? Today, A350 offers on-board cockpit technologies a pilot 2-3 decades ago could only dream about. But, what will next-generation aircraft and air transport look like in the next decades? The challenges tomorrow are far greater than those faced in the past as individual flight systems will have to operate with greater autonomy and intelligence within a cyber-physical environment. The next leap forward is Single Pilot Operations (reducing the commercial cockpit to a single pilot, 2030+). The move to SPO is mainly motivated by cost savings and the chronic problem of pilot shortage in the coming years. SPO will be a logical stepping stone on the way to self-learning and autonomous planes able to behave in a non-deterministic way (2050+). Today, autonomy is not a target in itself – the potential of autonomous technologies are explored for improving flight management operations and overall aircraft performance. From a scientific perspective, solving the puzzle of autonomy requires new concepts and cross-domain methods. An aircraft is a complex cyber-physical system and some research issues are for example: how to design efficient and scalable safety management methods on the way to operational autonomy, including high level discrete contingency monitoring and decision-making (which may be approached by robust IA techniques) – how to design autonomous cyber-physical systems that are actually safe enough to be deployed in real situations – how to find ways to validate safety strategies of such systems and to demonstrate that a sufficient level of safety can actually be achieved …

N.B. An exhaustive discussion can be found in: A. Zolghadri, On flight operational issues management: Past, present and future. Annual Reviews in Control. Vision article, 2018. pdf file.

On the 18th of December 2019, Airbus demonstrated first fully automatic vision-based take-off in an A350 configured for flight testing.

Coronavirus outbreak: stay of Prof. Lee in Bordeaux has been cancelled

Due to coronovirus outbreak, the stay of Prof. Edward Lee in April has been canceled - and will hopefully be postponed.

Prof. Edward A. Lee (University of California — Berkeley, USA) in Bordeaux: April 2020

I  have the pleasure to welcome Prof. Edward A. Lee (Robert S. Pepper Distinguished Professor, University of California — Berkeley, USA) in April 2020 in Bordeaux. Prof. Lee is an internationally recognized pioneer in research in Cyber-Physical Systems (CPS). He has delivered more than 180 keynote talks and other invited talks at venues worldwide (h-index=84 with more than 48000 citations). He has pointed out the failure of standard abstraction layers, the need of reliable timing behavior, and lack of temporal semantics of existing programming language models for CPS design. Prof. Lee has led the development of several influential open-source software packages, notably Ptolemy and its various spinoffs. See his resume here.

During his stay, he will share his experience on open issues in CPS modeling, control and safety management, and emerging Artificial Intelligence (AI) issues. His coming to the University of Bordeaux is supported by the cluster SysNum. He will give a conference on “interaction, observation (and Determinism and Free Will)” on April 14, 2020, at 10:00, at the IMS lab:


Interaction is more powerful than observation. This may help to explain the recent revolution in machine learning, the power of feedback systems, the limitations of the Turing-Church model of computation, the differences between cyber-physical systems and computing systems, and the limits of objectivity. But what is interaction? It requires first-person involvement, a self, but the concept of "a self" is treacherous. In this talk, I examine the differences between interaction and observation from a technical point of view. I leverage the results of four Turing Award winners, starting with the concept of a zero-knowledge proof (introduced by Shafi Goldwasser and Silvio Micali), which requires first-person interaction. I continue with Judea Perle's demonstration that observation of data alone, without any interaction with the mechanisms that produce the data, cannot be used, by itself, to infer causality. It reveals only correlation. I then show that this observation has a strong connection to a classic result by Robin Milner, who shows that two automata that cannot be distinguished by observation alone may be able to be distinguished through interaction. These technical interpretations of interactions lead inevitably to treacherous ground, connecting with deep philosophical questions about determinism and free will.


More details will be available soon.

About Cyber-Physical Systems: It seems Helen Gill of the US National Science Foundation coined the term Cyber-Physical System (CPS) in 2006 to refer to next-generation engineered systems with deep integration of computation, communication and networking, physical processes and control systems. Today, CPSs are transforming radically our traditional approach to systems and their functionalities, just as the Internet and digital revolution transformed the way we interact with information. Research in CPS is a very broad and cross-domain research area. For a recent overview, see for example: Allgöwer F. et al. (2019). Position paper on the challenges posed by modern applications to cyber-physical systems theory. Nonlinear Analysis: Hybrid Systems.


COCOTIER project

New (15 September 2020): The IMS deliverable S5.8.1.1 can be downloaded at here (authorized members only). Destination: Airbus Op. SAS.

COCOTIER (COncept de COckpit et Technologies Intégrées En Rupure) is a collaborative and exploratory project on new technologies for future intelligent cockpit in civil aviation operations (2030+). The kick-off meeting took place on December 2, 2019 in Toulouse – France. The project is supported by the French Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGAC) and coordinated by Airbus.

DGAC support: about 17.3 MEuros – Total budget: about 34.6 MEuros.

The project involves 14 industrial and academic partners:

  • Industrial partners: Airbus, Dassault aviation, SAFRAN, Thales, ATR, Factem, OKTAL Synthetic Environment, Ratier Figeac, Vodea and Zodiac Aero Electric.
  • Academic partners: IMS Lab – U-Bordeaux, LAAS-CNRS – Toulouse, LEAD Lab – Toulouse, ONERA (French Aerospace Lab), ENAC (French Civil Aviation University).

I coordinate IMS-lab activities in this project. IMS focuses on new methods for fault-tolerant multi-sensor data fusion for autonomous navigation during the landing approach of a large civil aircraft.

The second plenary meeting (virtual) took place on July 2, 2020.

The next meeting is scheduled for the November 18, 2020.

Plenary talk at ICINCO 2019 conference

I gave a plenary talk at the 16th International Conference on Informatics in Control, Automation and Robotics 2019 – 29-31 July, Prague, Czech Republic.

The abstract, video and pdf file of the talk are available at here.


Some open conferences, talks and interviews

I have given a number of open conferences and interviews for the general public, and participated to panel debates at international or French events. Below some selected ones since 2016:

  • Opening panel at ICINCO 2019. Theme: The rise of Artificial Intelligence: Now, Near and Far.
  • Panel discussion at MEA 2017. Theme: Innovation in aerospace.
  • Below, a short YouTube video on my CNRS Innovation medal:

  • Appeard in the French journal “La tribune”. Theme: Future Single Pilot Operations (2030+), and self-piloting and self-learning planes (2050+). See here.

  • Press conference (in French) organized by  the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) on perspectives and applications in control“. See here.
  • Invited talk (general public, in French): Les mardis de l’innovation, November 2016, CNRS, Paris, France. Theme: Connected transport.
  • Invited talk (general public, in French) at the “Fédération de Recherche du CNRS Charles Hermite”, November 2016, Nancy, France. Theme: Numerical sciences and industry 4.0.

Talk at the second annual meeting of the SysNum cluster

The second annual meeting of the SysNum cluster took place in Bordeaux on 1-2 April 2019. During this meeting with the International Scientific Advisory Board, I gave a talk on “Abstraction-based control synthesis for interconnected systems using distributed and partial information”.

The slides can be downloaded at here.


Plenary talk at SAFEPROCESS 2018 – IFAC conference

I gave a plenary talk at SAFEPROCESS 2018IFAC on “Model-based FDIR for aerospace and flight-critical systems”. SAFAPROCESS 2018 took place on 29 August-1 September 2018, Warsaw, Poland.

©Ali Zolghadri - 2019