Greer A.,UWE |
Hind T.,National Farmers Union
Policy and Society | Year: 2012
The dominant portrayal of the policy process around the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) emphasises a system of inter-governmental bargaining, close links between institutions and farming interests, and compartmentalised closed policy networks. This article considers how inter-institutional relationships might be reshaped by the extension of 'co-decision' powers to the European Parliament in the Lisbon Treaty. This raises the possibility that policy proposals and outcomes may increasingly reflect the participation of a broader range of actors and interests. Using four scenarios that reflect different institutional configurations, a preliminary analysis of the 2011 dairy regime proposals (the 'Milk Package') is used to draw some conclusions about whether the agricultural policy agenda is likely to be broadened through de-compartmentalisation, leading to a more fluid policy arena characterised by more actors with conflicting values. © 2012 Policy and Society Associates (APSS).
Burgin M.,University of California at Los Angeles |
International Journal of General Systems | Year: 2017
A Physarum machine is a programmable amorphous biological computer experimentally implemented in the vegetative state of true slime mould Physarum polycephalum. It comprises an amorphous yellowish mass with networks of protoplasmic veins, programmed by spatial configurations of attracting and repelling gradients. The goal of this paper to advance formalism of Physarum machines providing theoretical tools for exploration of possibilities of these machines and extension of their applications. To achieve this goal, we introduce structural machines and study their properties. © 2017 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group
News Article | February 1, 2016
The 'Flourish' project announced today is co-funded by Innovate UK and involves partners from across the South West who will work together to develop a CAV that integrates the mobility needs of older adults with a secure and connected infrastructure. The development has the potential to revolutionise mobility for older adults, reducing loneliness and giving people who do not drive the freedom to make spontaneous choices without relying on others. The work also promises to lead to thousands of new jobs in the South West, in supply chain and product development. Associate Professor Praminda Caleb-Solly from Bristol Robotics Laboratory explains, "Ageing brings a host of physical and cognitive impairments, together with long-term conditions, resulting in the need for added support. Maintaining health and independence, and participating as active members of society, requires people to be mobile. "Studies show that cessation of driving can lead to reduced social activity, poor health and depression. In the UK, over one million older adults say they always, or often, feel lonely. This research would mean that people in this situation wouldn't have to depend on others for transportation and would have the ability to make spontaneous choices. "UWE researchers with expertise in applied psychology and human factors, assistive technology and understanding people's transport requirements, will work with older adults with a range of needs and expectations. "This will result in the development of a set of key scenarios considering people's travel needs and barriers and constraints related to the participants' accessibility needs. Our research findings will further support inclusive public service design and policymaking." The team will also contribute to the design and development (through ongoing human factors testing) of adaptable Human-Machine interfaces (HMIs) which are responsive to people's different accessibility needs. Target-user groups will have a complex range of co-morbidities which can result in impaired vision, loss of hearing, painful or restricted mobility, poor movement control and issues with balance and difficulties with speech, memory and attention, including occasional confusion. Enabling these user groups to communicate intuitively, confidently and safely with an autonomous vehicle requires sophisticated multi-modal interaction capability, and intelligent sensing and responsiveness, which mainstream autonomous vehicles won't necessarily support. The research will address these challenges by building on the teams' world class experience of human factors, assistive technology design and psychology. Associate Professor Caleb-Solly continues, "We will develop a driving simulator that will be integrated into a pod shell and trialled with end-users as part of an iterative design process. This will enable us to optimise the designs of the vehicle interfaces to make them intuitive and easy to use, providing useful journey information and enhancing the journey experience." The findings from working on the simulator development and testing will be transferred to designing the actual physical interfaces which will be integrated into a real pod. A series of physical trials in a range of contexts to test usability and integration with other information sources will then be conducted. Real-world trials with older adults will also assess user experience and user interaction with the human-machine interfaces, focussing on subjective, performance and physiological response measures. Experience of running the trials will enable the development of a standard assessment framework to determine HMI and vehicle adaptations needed for different types of disability needs. This will give car manufacturers incorporating this technology a competitive edge in the market, attracting a wider range of customers and increasing market penetration. The UWE contribution to FLOURISH continues 'the pathway to Driverless Cars' (Department for Transport Feb 2015) building on the platform provided by the VENTURER project and moving closer to the realisation of connected autonomous vehicles(CAVs) sharing roads with current manually driven vehicles and other road users. In FLOURISH, co-designing with people with some level of cognitive and physical age-related impairments, the resulting simulator test environment and adaptable user interface for CAV operation will also be suitable for others with special needs as well as the wider public. As part of their research on assistive robotics for independent living, the Bristol Robotics Laboratory (BRL) at UWE collaborate closely with Designability, who have expertise in developing assistive technologies for older adults, and working with researchers in applied psychology and human factors, will extend their expertise in this area. Professor Tony Pipe from BRL who will research the security systems used to drive the vehicle. Professor Pipe said, "Security of the systems driving the vehicles is absolutely essential. We don't want the cars to be hacked. Systems anticipate total connectivity to real time traffic conditions so that routes can be controlled and monitored." Associate Professor Praminda Caleb-Solly from BRL will contribute to the design of the adaptable Human-Machine Interfaces and evaluation studies, investigating innovate ways for visualising data from multiple sources to provide contextually relevant and engaging information to the person in the vehicle, through a range of modalities. Professor Graham Parkhurst and Dr Ian Shergold from UWE Bristol's Centre for Transport and Society will contribute their expertise on older citizens' mobility needs and the importance of being mobile both for practical reasons but also due to the wellbeing benefits of being socially connected through movement. Professor Parkhurst said, "It is important that the products developed by Flourish work effectively alongside the existing services for supporting older citizen's travel. The CTS input will focus on ensuring that successful integration." Professor Chris Alford and Dr Phil Morgan from UWE Bristol Department of Psychology will be leading the applied psychology and human factors aspects of the project. Professor Chris Alford adds: "We will be looking at human factors aspects by devising an adaptive human-machine interface connected to various in-car systems using simulated tests that emulate journeys so that we can be sure that people feel confident and comfortable. For example this might include making the instruments like speedometers larger so that people with visual impairments can view speeds easily." Dr Phil Morgan adds: "AVs are the future of driving and are already developing at a galloping pace. Through FLOURISH, we have the perfect opportunity to influence the design of interfaces that people will interact with when using AVs and CAVs. We will optimise the design and usability of these interfaces through psychology and human factors testing and multiple rounds of user-trials so that design is informed by, for example, human needs, expectations, and cognitive ability. We recognise that it is not simply the case of designing a one-size-fits-all interface, especially as the sample we will be designing for during this project are likely to have varying requirements. For example, whereas one person may benefit from larger and less crowded displays, another may benefit more from more audible information. Bespoke solutions are crucial and cutting-edge CAV interfaces for use by older adults should be adaptable based upon individual requirements. We also need to get the balance of interface information right, such that people have access to enough information (e.g., vehicle related, external conditions related) without feeling over-loaded or indeed under-loaded. The FLOURISH project and partnership will allow us to achieve all of this and more." Explore further: Could robots help older people look after themselves
Journal of Medicine and Philosophy (United Kingdom) | Year: 2012
Patient support tools have drawn on a variety of disciplines, including psychotherapy, social psychology, and social care. One discipline that has not so far been used to support patients is philosophy. This paper proposes that a particular philosophical approach, phenomenology, could prove useful for patients, giving them tools to reflect on and expand their understanding of their illness. I present a framework for a resource that could help patients to philosophically examine their illness, its impact on their life, and its meaning. I explain the need for such a resource, provide philosophical grounding for it, and outline the epistemic and existential gains philosophy offers. Illness often begins as an intrusion on one's life but with time becomes a way of being. I argue that this transition impacts on core human features such as the experience of space and time, human abilities, and adaptability. It therefore requires philosophical analysis and response. The paper uses ideas from Husserl and Merleau-Ponty to present such a response in the form of a phenomenological toolkit for patients. The toolkit includes viewing illness as a form of phenomenological reduction, thematizing illness, and examining illness as altering the ill person's being in the world. I suggest that this toolkit could be offered to patients as a workshop, using phenomenological concepts, texts, and film clips to reflect on illness. I conclude by arguing that examining illness as a limit case of embodied existence deepens our understanding of phenomenology.© The Author 2012. Published by Oxford University Press, on behalf of the Journal of Medicine and Philosophy Inc. All rights reserved.
News Article | November 21, 2016
Receive press releases from TEAM (Energy Auditing Agency Ltd.): By Email TEAM are proud to announce that customers University of Oxford and the University of the West of England scooped prestigious awards at the EAUC Green Gown Awards 2016 Milton Keynes, United Kingdom, November 21, 2016 --( Winners were announced on 10th November at the Athena in Leicester. The awards recognise the exceptional sustainability initiatives being undertaken by universities, colleges and the learning and skills sectors across the UK and Ireland as the education sector leads a path to efficiency, employability and better quality of life for us all. The University of Oxford, a TEAM Sigma Software customer, won the Carbon Reduction Programme award, whilst the University of the West of England (UWE), who is also a TEAM software customer, picked up three awards for Continuous Improvement; Learning & Skills and Leadership. What did the University of Oxford Do? The University of Oxford set an ambitious target to reduce carbon emissions by 33% by the end of 2020/21 against a 2005/06 baseline. A generous budget of £14.6 million was awarded in 2011 to aid achieving the target of 21,773 tonnes of carbon savings. So far, 4,767 tonnes of carbon and £1.1m of annual energy costs have been saved by the university since 2011. Recognising the University of the West of England UWE was recognised for its sustainability aims between 2013 and 2020 and its work in Bristol’s year as European Green Capital 2015. Jim Longhurst, UWE’s Assistant Vice Chancellor for Environment was also recognised for ensuring that graduates are equipped to face the sustainable development challenges of the 21st century by integrating sustainability into curricula, research and campus operations. For the full list of winners at the Green Gown Awards 2016, visit their website at http://www.greengownawards.org/2016-winners1 Milton Keynes, United Kingdom, November 21, 2016 --( PR.com )-- TEAM is delighted to announce that two TEAM customers have scooped up prestigious awards at the Green Gown Awards 2016.Winners were announced on 10th November at the Athena in Leicester. The awards recognise the exceptional sustainability initiatives being undertaken by universities, colleges and the learning and skills sectors across the UK and Ireland as the education sector leads a path to efficiency, employability and better quality of life for us all.The University of Oxford, a TEAM Sigma Software customer, won the Carbon Reduction Programme award, whilst the University of the West of England (UWE), who is also a TEAM software customer, picked up three awards for Continuous Improvement; Learning & Skills and Leadership.What did the University of Oxford Do?The University of Oxford set an ambitious target to reduce carbon emissions by 33% by the end of 2020/21 against a 2005/06 baseline.A generous budget of £14.6 million was awarded in 2011 to aid achieving the target of 21,773 tonnes of carbon savings. So far, 4,767 tonnes of carbon and £1.1m of annual energy costs have been saved by the university since 2011.Recognising the University of the West of EnglandUWE was recognised for its sustainability aims between 2013 and 2020 and its work in Bristol’s year as European Green Capital 2015.Jim Longhurst, UWE’s Assistant Vice Chancellor for Environment was also recognised for ensuring that graduates are equipped to face the sustainable development challenges of the 21st century by integrating sustainability into curricula, research and campus operations.For the full list of winners at the Green Gown Awards 2016, visit their website at http://www.greengownawards.org/2016-winners1 Click here to view the list of recent Press Releases from TEAM (Energy Auditing Agency Ltd.)
News Article | February 23, 2016
With the sudden increase of seagull population, scientists launched a new project to shed light on Britain's seagull menace and this can be done through the use of psychologists. Psychologists say they are ready to study the ongoing urban seagull menace wherein the birds are attracted to live in well-off areas with beautiful buildings and abundant food supply. Understanding the history, way of life and behavior of seagulls may provide an insight on the sudden increase of their population. This may also help in controlling their numbers. A team of psychologists from the University of the West of England will spend around 18 months to study the psychology of seagulls. They will focus more on the birds' nesting sites, feeding activity and interactions with people. The government allotted £60,000 ($84,678) for the project from its annual budget. "Existing measures used to control the gull population over the past decade or so have been largely ineffective," Dr. Chris Pawson at UWE said. "A better understanding of the motivations of the protected species is required to formulate a fresh approach. From a behavioural ecology point of view, many of the principles you call upon to explain human behaviour are exactly the same for wildlife," he added. Some behaviors humans manifest are similar to wildlife. Sometimes, humans make decisions depending on the pressure of the environment. When there is lesser pressure and more comfort, humans are driven to live in that particular area. The same is true with gulls. They feel comfort in urban cities where there is little competition of food and they have shelter in high-rise buildings. "It is warm for them and there is little competition for food. Where would you rather be - on a cliff top somewhere, or on a nice ledge with ready food source?" Dr. Pawson said. With the continuous increase of seagull population, there had been a lot of complaints about seagull noise and aggressive behavior. Recent reports said that residents complained of seagulls stealing sandwiches and food. Lately, seagulls became more aggressive and bigger, attacking animals and pets in Cornwall. A seagull pecked to death an eight-year-old Yorkshire terrier in its owner's garden. In another attack, a 20-year-old pet tortoise was also attacked.
News Article | December 2, 2016
As our planet faces increasing urbanisation, public health experts are spearheading innovation for adjusting to this. We know that cities can make us ill: according to figures from the International Diabetes Federation, in 2014 there were 387 million people globally suffering from diabetes and in 2015 there were 415 million people living with the disease. Two-thirds of those people live in cities, experiencing poor diet and sedentary lifestyles. And our mental health suffers in cities, too. Urban living has been found to raise the risk of anxiety and mood disorders by 21% and 39% respectively. While half the world population currently lives in a city, this is predicted to rise to two-thirds by 2050. As they grow, cities will play a crucial role in finding solutions to many of our greatest public health challenges, from obesity and diabetes to communicable diseases like tuberculosis. With public health systems overstretched, and local governments pressed on all sides for resources and money, innovative solutions are needed. Public-private partnerships (PPPs) could be a source of new thinking, getting projects off the ground. So how can cities best build on PPPs to create health systems and fresh thinking so that our urban world will be a healthy one? How can public health bodies capitalise on the skills of the private sector without losing control? How can cities ensure equal access to healthcare for all residents? And what role should city mayors and other local government figures play in establishing innovative partnerships for health? Join an expert panel on Thursday 8 December, from 2pm to 3.30pm GMT, to discuss these questions and more. Niels Lund, vice president, Novo Nordisk and Cities Changing Diabetes spokesperson, Copenhagen, Denmark @lund_niels Cities Changing Diabetes is a programme to address the huge urban diabetes challenge. Niels has had an extensive career in international development with assignments for Unicef and the World Bank. Abdul El-Sayed, executive director and health officer, City of Detroit, United States @AbdulElSayed Abdul is turning around the fortunes of healthcare in one of America’s poorest cities, working with a variety of partners from all sectors. Laurence Carmichael, head, WHO Collaborating Centre for Healthy Urban Environments, UWE, Bristol, UK @laurencecarmich Laurence contributes to healthy cities research, consultancy and teaching in collaboration with local, national and international stakeholders including WHO-Europe. Julie Hughes, director, Institute for Market Transformation (IMT), co-director, City Energy Project, Washington DC, US The City Energy Project is a national initiative to create healthier and more prosperous American cities by improving the energy efficiency of buildings. IMT seeks market-based solutions to today’s climate and energy challenges. Susan Claris, associate director, transport consulting, Arup, London, UK, @Susan Claris Susan is a transport planner and anthropologist who has worked for Arup for more than twenty years. She has a particular interest in the many benefits that arise from making cities more walkable. Claudia Adirazola, director, Health and Road Safety, WRI Ross Center For Sustainable Cities, Washington DC, US Claudia works on a global strategy for addressing the public health impact of urban transportation and urban development. She has a background in the public sector in her home country of Peru. Tim Grandage, managing trustee, Future Hope, Kolkata, India Tim founded Future Hope, a charity that works with vulnerable children in Kolkata’s streets and slums, in 1987. Federico Cartin Arteaga, director, Rutas Naturbanas, San José, Costa Rica, @fedecartin Federico is an economist and urban planner. Rutas Naturbanas aims to revitalise urban rivers – to allow people to bike, walk and run – and eventually restore these water sheds. Alex Ross, director, World Health Organisation (WHO) Centre for Health Development (WHO Kobe Centre), Kobe, Japan, @directorwkc The WHO Kobe Centre has been working on urban health for over a decade, addressing health systems, health inequities and and urban planning-health collaboration. Alex’s background is in international development, with roles at USAid and DfID. Billie Giles-Corti, lead of the NHMRC Centre for Research Excellence in Healthy Liveable Communities, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia, @billiegc Billie heads a centre with the mission to provide research that informs healthy urban design and planning. She is the author of a 2016 Lancet series on urban design, transport and health. Jess Beagley, policy research officer, NCD Alliance, London, UK, @JessicaBeagley Jess leads NCD Alliance’s work on environment and health, with a particular focus on urbanisation and climate change and the opportunities for co-benefit solutions to promote human and planetary health. The live chat is not video or audio-enabled but will take place in the comments section (below). Want to recommend someone for the panel or ask a question in advance? Get in touch via firstname.lastname@example.org or @GuardianGDP on Twitter. Follow the discussion using the hashtag #globaldevlive.
News Article | January 8, 2016
The unique hand-held instrument can measure precisely how much dirt has accumulated on an aeroplane's surface and determine whether the build-up increases drag. Plane operators can use data collected by the scanner to optimise aircraft cleaning routines and ensure their fleet is as aerodynamic as possible. It is estimated airlines using the ECOTEC system – developed by academics from UWE Bristol in association with concept designer Intercede Ventures Limited – could cut their fuel bills by as much as one per cent. One of the world's largest charter airlines is trialling the patented system in six of its aircraft ahead of the product being launched into the market this year. Intercede worked with researchers from UWE's Institute of Bio-Sensing Technology to develop the system, using the UWE team's considerable expertise in sensor system design, fabrication and evaluation, together with the university's wind tunnels for early testing and calculations. The company's managing director Graham Mimms said the technology – which uses lasers, light beams and mirrors – also had applications in the automotive, marine, rail and wind turbine industries because all use aero-dynamic surfaces. Graham said: "A clean aircraft is a more efficient aircraft but that's not always been too easy to prove. We thought 'If we can prove it, airlines would keep them clean and efficient' and as a result more environmentally friendly. "Engineers will soon be able to walk around the aircraft with our patented and industry approved instrument to analyse which surface sections need cleaning to keep it in its most efficient state. If you clean it by applying an industry approved cleaning compound you will have an aircraft aerodynamically more efficient. "We detect when it becomes beneficial to re-clean specific areas of the aircraft as degradation (increased drag) is not even across the aircraft surface. By doing this, we can keep the aircraft within an efficiency envelope. By following our protocols, airlines will be able to maintain the surfaces in a more efficient state. An aircraft can look clean to the eye but not be aero-dynamically at its best – our instrument can detect this." Graham said airlines' approach to cleaning their planes varied, hampered by the high water usage (sometimes more than 20,000 litres per wet wash) which is not eco-friendly. But he said the ECOTEC system would generally recommend the dry washing of aircraft with environmentally-friendly cleaning products supplied by project collaborative partner Chemetall, a global supplier of aircraft-approved cleaning and maintenance compounds and products. He said: "What we are recommending is more labour intensive (dry washing) but the resulting efficiency can be greater. If carbon emissions can be reduced by reduced drag efficiencies, airlines may also be able to benefit from reduced taxes." Graham, who along with his two fellow founding directors have more than 100 years of experience in the airline industry at senior managerial and director level, said his company decided to work with UWE because of its facilities, expertise and close ties with the aviation industry. He said: "A big deciding factor was the fact UWE has considerable expertise in sensor technology development coupled with appropriate facilities, for example three wind tunnels. There is duel speed sub-sonic one and an ultra-sonic one. Using these was the basis of the initial research to prove that drag can be measured and could be related to the efficiency of the aeroplane. "We also looked at the history of the university and the way it is supported by the big names in the aviation industry including aircraft manufacturers and aero engine suppliers. For us it had the right credentials for the technological aspects of what we are doing." The development of the surface analyser has been supported with £100,000 in grants from UWE's Business Technology Centre, iNets South West and Innovation 4 Growth. Investment firm Angels4Angels has also recently backed the venture with a six-figure sum. Graham said: "We are delighted to welcome the support and financial expertise that Angels4Angels brings to our project, enabling us to focus our efforts on further product development and marketing our carbon footprint reduction systems to international aviation and other markets. "Through our collaborative working relationship with the international aircraft cleaning manufacturer Chemetall – Intercede Ventures will commence marketing its airline carbon footprint reduction aircraft surface management service in 2016 through Chemetall's global aviation distribution network alongside its own marketing activities."
News Article | February 28, 2017
The development of Robotics and Artificial Intelligence (RAI) technologies to improve the way we care for the sick and elderly, and deal with hazardous environments have received a major boost with more than £17.3 million of investment. The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) has announced two Programme Grants worth a total of £10.8 million for major robotics research projects. One project, led by Imperial College London will look to make major advances in the field of surgical micro-robotics, while researchers at the University of Manchester, will develop robotics technologies capable of operating autonomously and effectively within hazardous environments such as nuclear facilities. EPSRC is also announcing a £6.5 million capital investment that will strengthen and consolidate its existing investments to enhance capabilities and enable collaboration across a common platform within the UK-RAS Network. This distributed network of capital equipment will enable the UK's robotics and artificial intelligence researchers to accelerate the translation of fundamental research into cross-sector, enabling technologies and promote cross-sector growth. Culture Secretary Karen Bradley said: "Britain has a proud history of digital innovation - from the earliest days of computing to Sir Tim Berners-Lee's development of the World Wide Web. "We are already pioneers in robotics and artificial intelligence and our Digital Strategy will build on our strengths to make sure UK-based scientists, researchers and entrepreneurs continue to be at the forefront. "Backing our thriving digital economy to expand and grow, by putting the best foundations in place to develop new technology, is a vital part of this Government's plan to build a modern, dynamic and global trading nation." Professor Philip Nelson, Chief Executive of the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), said: "For several decades, EPSRC has been at the forefront of supporting the UK's research, training and innovation in robotics, automation and artificial intelligence systems, and has been instrumental in fostering interdisciplinary partnerships between academics, industry, government and other parties. "Throughout the world, however, from the United States to South Korea, China to Japan, governments are investing billions of dollars into these new technologies. We are faring very well against this global competition, and we should not slow the momentum. These investments are vital for continuing the pipeline that transforms research into products and services." The capital investment, in the challenge areas of Health and Social Care and Extreme Environments, offers the opportunity to revolutionise how we care for the sick and elderly, power our homes and industries, maintain our highways and railways, and explore the world. For example, in the vital field of Health and Social Care, new surgical tools offer a greater degree of precision and accuracy, and technological developments will allow for the care of an ageing population at home. In the area of Extreme and Challenging (Hazardous) Environments, RAI technologies allow for the inspection, monitoring, and maintenance in areas that are dangerous for humans to enter, for example, energy systems (eg oil and gas, nuclear plants, off-shore renewables, etc) and infrastructure (eg bridges, roads, and rail). The EPSRC investment in this space includes robotics, AI, and other parts of computer science such as image and vision computing, verification and validation, smart sensing technology and its associated connectivity with the Internet of Things, autonomous manufacturing, healthcare technology, and intelligent mobility. The Research Councils as a whole cover a wide spectrum of RAI research, with investments ranging from developing fundamental underpinning technologies through to the demonstration and application of technologies. The project will look to establish platform technologies to assist in the development of sophisticated micro-instruments integrated with imaging, sensing and robotic assistance for use in minimally invasive surgery. Areas of focus will include the establishment of platform technologies in micro-fabrication and actuation; micro-manipulation and cooperative robotic control; in vivo microscopic imaging and sensing; intra-operative vision and navigation; and endoluminal platform development. The project will look to address challenges facing the nuclear industry by developing new robotics and autonomous systems technology that will be able to operate autonomously and effectively in hazardous environments. Working in partnership with the nuclear supply chain, researchers at three universities will look to overcome current issues about the power, sensing, communications and processing power limitations of smaller robots, while also developing systems able to address issues around grasping and manipulation, computer vision and perception. The research may also feed in other areas of robotics, such as space, sub-sea, mining, bomb-disposal and healthcare. Organisations: University of Manchester, University of Birmingham, University of the West of England (UWE) As the main funding agency for engineering and physical sciences research, our vision is for the UK to be the best place in the world to Research, Discover and Innovate. By investing £800 million a year in research and postgraduate training, we are building the knowledge and skills base needed to address the scientific and technological challenges facing the nation. Our portfolio covers a vast range of fields from healthcare technologies to structural engineering, manufacturing to mathematics, advanced materials to chemistry. The research we fund has impact across all sectors. It provides a platform for future economic development in the UK and improvements for everyone's health, lifestyle and culture. We work collectively with our partners and other Research Councils on issues of common concern via Research Councils UK. http://www. The EPSRC UK Robotics and Autonomous Systems Network (UK-RAS Network) is dedicated to robotics innovation across the UK, with a mission to provide academic leadership in Robotics and Autonomous Systems (RAS), expand collaboration with industry, and integrate and coordinate activities at EPSRC-funded RAS capital facilities and Centres for Doctoral Training (CDTs) across the country.
News Article | February 28, 2017
The cost of cleaning up the UK's existing nuclear facilities has been estimated to be between £95 billion and £219 billion over the next 120 years or so. The harsh conditions within these facilities means that human access is highly restricted and much of the work will need to be completed by robots. Present robotics technology is simply not capable of completing many of the tasks that will be required. Whilst robotic systems have proven to be of great benefit at Fukushima Daiichi NPP, their limitations, which include relatively straightforward tasks such as turning valves, navigating staircases and moving over rough terrain, have also been highlighted. The new group comprising Manchester, the University of Birmingham, University of the West of England (UWE) and industrial partners Sellafield Ltd, EdF Energy, UKAEA and NuGen has been funded with £4.6m from The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council. It will develop robots which have improved, power, sensing, communications and processing power. They will also develop systems which are able to address issues around grasping and manipulation, computer vision and perception. Importantly the robots will be autonomous – able to operate without direct supervision by humans. The University of Manchester's Professor Barry Lennox, who is leading this project, said: "This programme of work will enable us to fundamentally improve RAS capabilities, allowing technologies to be reliably deployed in to harsh environments, keeping humans away from the dangers of radiation." Within the next five years, the researchers will produce prototype robots which will then be trialled in both active and inactive environments. It is anticipated that these trials will include using robotic manipulators to autonomously sort and segregate waste materials and to use multiple robots, working collaboratively, to characterise facilities that may not have been accessed for 40 years or more. The technology will not only have potential for improving robots used at nuclear sites, but also in other hostile environments such as space, sub-sea, and mining. Or in situations such as bomb-disposal and healthcare which are dangerous or difficult for humans. The University of Manchester has already developed small submersible and ground-based vehicles that can be deployed to survey nuclear facilities, which will be used in this project, allied with the skills and knowledge of the other partners. Professor Lennox added: "If we are to be realistic about clearing up contaminated sites, then we have to invest in this type of technology. These environments are some of the most extreme that exist, so the benefits of developing this technology can also apply to a wide range of other scenarios." Explore further: Amphibious remote-controlled machines to help clean-up nuclear disaster sites