9 August 2012

ACSE researchers secure funding for railway 'healthcare' system

Dr Zi-qiang Lang and Dr Tony Dodd in the Department of Automatic Control and Systems Engineering (ACSE) have secured a £1.17 million Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) grant together with colleagues at the Universities of Newcastle and York.

The grant titled, ‘Novel Sensing and Network for Intelligent Monitoring – Newton’, was awarded under the competitive EPSRC Autonomous and Intelligent System (AIS) scheme.

Newton is concerned with developing a revolutionary autonomous, intelligent monitoring system designed to assess the healthy condition of large scale infrastructure, such as railways and nuclear facilities.

Dr Zi-Qiang Lang said, “The aim is to develop a system to fulfil the vision of, ‘pervasive healthcare’ for infrastructure assets and manufacturing processes to meet the needs of a wide range of industrial sectors.”

The project involves close collaborations with industrial partners including Network Rail, National Nuclear Laboratory, and BAE Systems. During the project, the ACSE team will apply unique modelling and analysis approaches, as well as employing autonomous robots, which will be used to help with monitoring conditions in dangerous and inaccessible industrial locations.

The AIS scheme is a £16 million fund that was launched by the Minister for Universities and Science, David Willetts in May this year. Speaking at the launch of the scheme, Willetts said, “Robotics and autonomous intelligent systems are areas of science in which the UK has world class expertise”.

James Baker, Managing Director of BAE Systems' Advanced Technology Centre, said, "It is vital for the universities to work with industry to drive these technologies forward as autonomous and intelligent systems are going to be an integral part of our infrastructure and society in the near future.”