The project, funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), is split into two categories. The first will explore ways that technology can improve care for the elderly, while the second will focus on using autonomous (AI) machines to deal with or operate in hazardous environments. Loughborough will receive a £500,000 share of the total funding, which has been allocated to 14 UK universities. The money will towards exploring ‘intelligent manufacturing environments’ – the idea that humans, robots and automated procedures work seamlessly, or ‘co-exist’, to execute challenging manufacturing activities. Through the University’s Centre for Doctoral Training in Embedded Intelligence, the project will be led by Professor Paul Conway, Dr Carmen Torres-Sanchez and Dr Niels Lohse. A new designed training facility has been created to allow scientists to carry out the research.

CDT-EI Director Prof Conway said: “The money from the EPSRC will allow us to build on the UK’s already impressive understanding of robotics, and Loughborough is privileged to be a part of this pioneering project. Here, our aim is to explore how humans can work in union with robots and artificial intelligence to explore off-limits environments and gather data about hazardous sites and situations in a way we cannot currently do. There are also possibilities within this field to use bespoke AI to boost work place and manufacturing productivity in challenging industries.”

In the area of extreme and challenging (hazardous) environments, robotics and artificial intelligence technologies will allow for the inspection, monitoring, and maintenance of sites that are dangerous for humans to enter. This includes hostile environments such as nuclear power plants, oil and gas sites and off-shore renewables. It also includes hazardous urban and suburban situations involving bridges, roads and railways. The aim will be to develop the science around 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.

For more detials visit Loughborough University News.

Lee Baines of MacTaggart Scott (one of our PhD project co-sponsors) and CDT-EI deputy Director Dr David Flynn recently won twice award for at the Scottish Knowledge Exchange Awards. The awards recognise, reward and celebrate the impacts achieved through collaborative business and academic partnerships.

MacTaggart Scott and Heriot-Watt won the Sustained Partnership category, sponsored by SCI, an international forum where science meets business. MacTaggart Scott and Heriot-Watt's relationship started in 2011 with an undergraduate mechanical engineering design project and expanded to electrical and mechanical projects, including a Knowledge Transfer Partnership and studentships.

The MultiParty Collaboration Award was won by Flow Assurance and Scale Team (FAST). The collaboration between NALCO Champion, Shell UK and Heriot Watt University came together in 2015 to improve SQUEEZE, a game-changing software technology used extensively by the oil and gas industry all over the world to prevent scale forming in wells.

Congratulations to David and Lee!

Cohort 3 research Darius Roman has been selected as one of 44 engineers to attend the Concurrent Engineering Workshop at the European Space Agency (ESA) Academy Training and Learning Centre in Redu, Belgium.

The goal of the workshop, to be held in March 2017, is to create a subsystem concept in order to later achieve an already identified mission concept using concurrent engineering strategies.

Europe’s leadership in space technology depends upon its ability to continue developing world-class satellites. To do that, the ESA needs to share knowledge with emerging engineers and scientists. As a consequence the ESA is organising a concurrent engineering workshop on satellite design.

Concurrent engineering is a modern approach to design, where different design stages run simultaneously decreasing product development time and time to market, reducing costs as well as improving productivity. The method heavily relies on communicating interdependencies between subsystems, hence solutions in one area can impact the design in another.

Darius is currently a PhD student at Heriot Watt University, Smart System Group working on the topic of Prognostics and Health Management of Critical Assets. His vision is to identify interdependencies between subsystems through the fusion of data models and physics based models, hence the interest in concurrent engineering design.

By understanding the design process, better prognostics capabilities can be incorporated within the system in order to predict the reaming useful life. His current research is applied to Oil and Gas drilling equipment, but similarities of the two industries such as operation in harsh and inaccessible environments on tight budgets as well as expected level of functionality for extended periods of time implies that both industries can potentially benefit from enhanced prognostics capabilities.

Darius’ research impact is beyond the Oil and Gas industry and in terms of satellite space technology he envisages the next generation of satellites operating and maintain maximum autonomy with auto-maintenance functions driven by prognostics, functions that can only be developed through better understanding of the system design.

During the workshop Darius will be part of the configuration team, responsible for creating and maintaining a CAD model representing the mechanical configuration of the spacecraft. This task includes system-level interface control, verification that all equipment is mechanically fit for purpose, and supplying images of the spacecraft to other teams.

For more details please follow ESA Academy - Concurrent Engineering Workshops.

An ambitious project that will integrate expertise in the fields of prognostics, sensor technologies, energy systems, robotics and autonomous systems, will create a new generation of intelligent asset management solutions for the offshore energy sector. The Holistic Operation and Maintenance for Energy from Offshore Wind Farms (HOME-Offshore) brings together internationally recognised experts from the following universities: Manchester (project lead), Warwick, Cranfield, Durham and Heriot-Watt University. 

The £4 million research grant includes a £1 million industry contribution and £3 million from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC). 

The Heriot-Watt team, which includes CDT-EI Directors, Dr David Flynn and Dr Keith Brown, will create remote inspection and repair technologies using robotics and autonomous systems. Dr David Flynn Director of the Smart Systems Group (SSG) at Heriot-Watt University, said: “The UK government has set ambitious offshore wind energy targets, increasing the present 5GW generated by offshore windfarms to 40GW by 2050. The costs of achieving these targets have, until now, focused on the capital outlay for wind turbines, but budgets have largely ignored the operation and maintenance of windfarm assets, including subsea cabling. 

By integrating technologies, such as autonomous underwater vehicles and advanced sonar technology, we will gain access to previously inaccessible data that will deliver new insight, via advanced prognostics, into the condition of these critical assets. 

We aim to provide the UK with a competitive advantage within the highly lucrative offshore energy market. Our hybrid, human-robotics, technology will seek to protect those most vulnerable to increases in the cost of energy by reducing the costs faced by both tax and bill payers.


The CDT in Embedded Intelligence was one of the four CDTs invited to this theme day dedicated to showcase the good practice in this area in the UK. Named as one of the Eight Great Technologies in 2012, identified as one of the strengths of the UK, and with the potential to revolutionise the economy and society over the next 20 years, the RAAI community met in London on Jan 31st to share experiences and be evaluated in front of a prestigious international panel which included members from Harvard Uni, UC San Diego, EPFL (Lausanne), Leeds, King's College and UCL, and experienced industrialist (eg Dyson, iTechnic and RU Robots). 


Our Executive Director, Dr Carmen Torres-Sánchez, represented the CDT-EI and explained our strategy in training provision through our 'Transition Zone', breadth of research topics covered, sectors who have partnered with us and quality of the student experience. 


Thanks to the EPSRC for inviting us.

An industrial group project with the Edinburgh-based Company Pyreos in Semester 1 has so impressed the Company that Pyreos asked Prof. Marc Desmulliez, the HWU academic supervisor of the project, to establish a CDT PhD studentship between the Company and Heriot-Watt University for 2017-2018. The project aimed to systematically characterise a new pyrodetector and enhanced the smartness of the device for new types of applications. "We are delighted by this seal of approval that Pyreos is giving to the quality of the students entering this CDT-EI. I am sure that we will be able to create a programme of work that will help the Company moving into new markets.

Cohort 2 researcher Melanie Zimmer attended 'using the media to publicise your research' course at Loughborough University.

I never thought about using the media as a way of promoting my research. But on the 18th of January, I attended a workshop in the Graduate House just on that. The session was held by two ex-BBC journalists and was aimed at demystifying this particular channel of communication.

During this one-day workshop, we covered different topics ranging from the various types of media that exist, to understanding that journalists are not really interested in your research as such - but in a good story. A good story, or a pitch to media, is characterised by the following:

  • Relevance to the audience (so what?)
  • Unusual, unique
  • Facts
  • Scandal, conflict
  • Topicality
  • Human interest

Although this workshop was tailored to media, the knowledge we gained can also be transferred to other areas - it is always important to understand your audience and to get the right message across.

When it comes to understanding your audience, it is also important to understand what your audience judges your interview (or presentation, etc.) on. So be clear on (1) What you say, (2) How you say it (your personality), and (3) How well you understand and address the needs, concerns and prejudices of your audience.

Exposing your research through media might be a good way of leading to new funding channels and collaborations. But especially when you consider exposing your research through media for the first time, it might be best to get your University Press Office involved as you can get additional advice from there. Another way of getting your research published to a wider audience could be through The Conversation is a not-for-profit media outlet sourcing content from the research community and providing editorial support.

Some more general advice also includes:

  • Before an interview, take the time and google your topic under the news section to see what is currently going on in this field.
  • Create a fact sheet with general information on your topic area.
  • If filming is taking place at your office, inform your environment beforehand and keep a clean desk.

The workshop also contained a practical training session for us, where we individually got interviewed by one of the journalists for two times 3 minutes – only the first question being made available to us beforehand (As a note: be prepared to be asked questions about costs and when your research will be available!). 

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It felt quite uncomfortable to be put on the spot like this, but it was a great experience to go through such a situation as the sessions were recorded and we received instant feedback by the experts and the other peers.

Prof. Julian Vincent, formally based at Oxford University, has been made Honorary Professor at Heriot-Watt University for s period of 3 years started in January 2017. Prof. Vincent is one of the two pioneers in Biomimetics, the field of knowledge related to the translation of biological principles into engineering practices. "I am delighted to have Julian working with us towards establishing the Nature inspired Manufacturing Centre (NIMC)", said Prof. Marc Desmulliez of Heriot-Watt university. "Julian is already informally helping Ruben Kruiper, CDT student working in Computer-aided biomimetics. Julian will be helping HWU in establishing new research projects with industry in the field of biomimetics.

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General Enquiries Contacts:

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Loughborough, Leicestershire
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Tel: +44 (0)1509 263171
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Dr Keith Brown