Cohort 3 researcher Gergely Hantos describes the 4th Annual Workshop and Exhibition  MEMS Testing & Reliability  he recently attended in Santa Clara, California, in the heart of the Silicon Valley. The workshop was aimed at CEOs, CTOs, VPs and engineers working in the field of MEMS test and reliability.

MEMS are Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems. They are similar to integrated circuits in the field of microelectronics, however MEMS have moving parts. Due to the difficult and complicated fabrication process, they are not standardised, every MEMS device is custom made. MEMS can be accelerometers, gyroscopes, microphones, pressure sensors, infrared sensors etc…MEMS can be found in most of our daily appliances. They are present in various fields from automotive industry (airbag sensors) to handheld devices (mobile phone gyroscopes). As MEMS play a critical role in some devices, their reliability is highly important. Just imagine an airbag with a faulty sensor or someone dialling 911 with a faulty microphone.

By attending the workshop I was hoping to get to know the state of the art test methods and current trends in MEMS testing especially in the field of MEMS microphones. There were two presentations focusing on microphones, which I found highly related to my project. I was able to get a better understanding of failure modes of MEMS microphones and the current test methods. There was also a presentation from Allyson Hartzell, Veryst Engineering, who works in the MEMS reliability industry nearly since its beginning. I have read one of her books and encountered a lot of her work during my literature review so it was real pleasure to hear from her in person.  Alongside Allyson,  Richard Chrusciel from FocusTest, was responsible for opening and closing the presentation session and both gave a very good general overview of the field of MEMS testing with current trends indicated.

The MEMS community is fairly small and very friendly; I came away with many new contacts including some of the presenters and with people from companies working with MEMS microphones (Bose, Bosch etc...).

Overall, I enjoyed my three day; it was my first time not only in California, but in the USA as well. I was also able to spend some time with my colleagues (Ruben and Christos) in San Francisco who were attending a conference. We even managed a bit of sightseeing!


Living Machines 2017

15 August 2017

The 6th international conference biomimetic and biohybrid systems, called 'Living Machines', was held this year at Stanford University in California. Christos Kouppas (cohort 3) and Ruben Kruiper (cohort 2) attended to present their work on bio-inspired robotics and computer-aided biomimetics respectively. The conference started with several workshops on the 25th of July, addressing topics such as unmanned aerial vehicles and simulating evolution-and-development mechanisms. The conference was held over 3 days and finished with several lab-visits at the University of California, Berkeley.

During the conference Christos presented work on Unmanned Aerial Vehicles in a 20 minutes oral presentation. Christos had create a novel sensor for airflow around UAVs and he designed a feedforward-feedback controller to demonstrate the performance capabilities of the sensor. The full paper can be found on ResearchGate.


 Ruben presented a poster on Computer-Aided Biomimetics - the use of computational tools in support of bio-inspired design. Such tools aim to support the identification and selection of biological information that is relevant to an engineering problem, as well as helping to understand and transfer biological information to an engineering context. The paper and poster can be found on ResearchGate.


Embedded Intelligence supporting resilient and sustainable systems, organisations, networks and societies

The sell-out seminar, with attendees from industry, academia, government and funding agencies, focused on three primary themes of embedded intelligence; Supporting Critical Infrastructure, Advanced Products and Systems, and People.

Dr Graeme Coapes, R&D Lead of Siemens, presented their new product line asset guard and how embedded intelligence has enabled them to support their clients in asset management needs within energy systems. This new product line has delivered significant value for Siemens and has attracted investment from Siemens to create new jobs in the UK based on the ability for the UK to deliver innovation to the market place.

Seminar2017Mr David Lofting, Design Engineer of ThistleDesign, explained how Embedded Intelligence is helping thistle enter into new markets such as Navy and Maritime health monitoring. In the context of HMS Queen Elizabeth, whose commissioning cost was £6.3Billion its an anticipated that her lifecycle management will cost over £24 Billion. Thistledesign are looking to provide clients with savings and insure the operational readiness of these critical assets.

Hydrason, a spin out company from HW, is managing to provide access to previously inaccessible information thanks to their revolutionary sonar technology. Embedded Intelligence is converting their sonar data into actionable information for a broad spectrum of clients concerned with offshore engineering systems and marine conservation.

Prof. Micheal Pecht, presented the challenges faced in global electronics throughout a myriad of industrial sectors in terms of reliability. High profile case studies where used to exemplify the need for improved reliability standards for technology that we have all become highly dependent on.

The closing talks of the day focused on how technology and infrastructure can be tailored to support people. Dr Valentin Robu presented how Artificial intelligence will be critical in resilient and sustainable energy systems of the future. CENSIS outlined how Internet of Things (IoT) technology can be used with embedded intelligence to create new business models and services. Mr Steven Flemming, of santos, presented how over $55Million dollars of investment in santos - the digital human, is transforming how we design and the potential for significant improvements in productivity and fit-for-purpose products and services.

In closing, the seminar, Dr Flynn reminded the audience that " Embedded Intelligence is all about putting people first. Furthermore, the time has come for a transformative change to how we support access to education and wealth creation. With the examples given today, its clear we have the ability to up-skill communities that need our support the most, and to embed innovation within communities where wealth creation and education can have the biggest impact. With sectors vulnerable to the advances in robotics and automation we have a responsibility as a community of industrialists, academics and government representatives to support our society for the challenges we know that we will face.

The new industrial revolution: robots are an opportunity, not a threat

File 20170808 10926 izvxcu shutterstock. Shutterstock David Flynn, Heriot-Watt University and Valentin Robu, Heriot-Watt University

Invasion. Takeover. These are the kind of words that have been bandied about in news headlines about robotics and artificial intelligence in the last few years. The coverage has been almost relentlessly negative, focusing on the threat to jobs, squeezing out the human component. While such potential is there, if robotics and AI do become a threat, then we believe this would be a threat of society’s own choosing.

The market impact of robotics and autonomous systems is estimated to be US$9.8 to US$19.3 trillion a year by 2025, but a recent report from the Sutton Trust stressed concerns that this could lead to a two-tier society with:

An elite high-skilled group dominating the higher echelon of society and a lower-skilled, low-income group with limited prospects of up-skilling and hence upward mobility, resulting in a broken social ladder.

Technical innovation has always had an impact on the status quo and stirred fears of what change might bring. Currently the fear is that the owners of the means of production will become rich, while other will see their jobs and livelihoods taken by robots.

Living in a connected era

The revolution in robotics and autonomous systems has already begun. We live in a connected era where affordable technology interacts with us and with other natural and physical assets in our environment, turning data into information for a global audience.

AI has the ability to bring expert knowledge to the lay person remotely, that is, anywhere in the world, and support them in their endeavours like a virtual mentor, customising information in a useable format they can engage with. And by giving people this knowledge it offers unprecedented opportunities ranging from garden shed innovators gaining access to manufacturing processes which would previously been beyond their reach, to the potential for wealth creation in countries that are most in need of it.

For example, AI is helping communities in developing nations implement local renewable energy systems by providing intelligent automation and monitoring – almost like an online “doctor”, making sure the system is “healthy” and working properly. This means communities not only gain access to affordable and sustainable energy but can also engage in trading of any surplus energy to other consumers or utility companies.

But to achieve these benefits society has to be ready to grasp them. Governments, business and academia all have a responsibility to prepare the current and future workforce for the imminent and dramatic changes to come, and society as a whole has to buy into this new industrial revolution.

Contrary to the perceived apocalyptic scenario, we believe the future is all about people: after all, the value of technologies is in the knowledge we humans embed within them and how we interact with them, not the machines themselves. For that human-based scenario to work we need an agile, future-ready workforce, ready to embrace a data-driven world in partnership with robotics and autonomous systems.

An existing example is the Siemens “lights out” manufacturing plant in Amberg, Germany, which is automated to the point where some lines can run unsupervised for several weeks. This is viewed as a stepping stone towards a fully self-organising factory that would allow the manufacture of highly customisable products. Yet this automated factory has 1,150 employees supporting it, just with different roles focused on programming, monitoring and machine maintenance.

The new industrial revolution

Since the first industrial revolution people have generally had to follow the technology, moving to the big cities or from developing nations to developed countries, to improve their access to the opportunities offered by technology.

At Heriot-Watt we are embracing both the newest technological opportunities and the challenges that they bring. Our work involves engaging with government and industry around a people first ethos via our Centre of Embedded Innovation (CEI) concept, which is reaching out to all of our communities to enable access to the latest advances in data analysis, robotics and autonomous systems.

The rise of robots in industry means we must look at new ways of working and collaborating with them.

Studies by the Sutton Trust have indicated that in the past decade in the UK, the gap between rich and poor in society has increased, with inequality now at a record high. The CEI seeks to address this societal imbalance through making opportunity more equal, in which education plays the key role, and helping to create a new “embedded” industrial revolution which supports business and economic growth, transferring knowledge and resources to those communities most at risk of poverty.

The ConversationWealth creation and innovation must be centred on people to achieve a prosperous future that is inclusive throughout society. It’s also clear that the speed of this industrial revolution warrants a transformative change in strategy through government, industry and academia.

David Flynn, Associate Professor, Embedded Intelligence in Energy Systems, Heriot-Watt University and Valentin Robu, Lecturer in Smart Grids, Heriot-Watt University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

VISUM summer school

8 August 2017

Cohort 3 research Orange tells us about Visum Summer School 2017.

With CDT-EI’s sponsorship, I attended VISUM summer school from July 7th – 14th in Porto. VISUM stand for Vision Understanding and Machine Intelligence and this summer school aimed to gather PhD, candidates, post-doctoral scholars and researchers from academia and industry with research interests in computer vision and machine learning. VISUM is organized by INESC TEC in the scope of the FourEyes projects.

Summer school included six full days theoretical and practical sessions, one day for social programme and the last day was final demonstration of the projects we have done during the Project Hackathon. Specialists and professors from universities and industries gave us the lessons of the state-of-the-art techniques based on deep learning and computer vision in the morning, and in the afternoon, we had the hand-on sessions with their help.  On the industry day, we had speakers from Facebook, Disney Research etc. They did give us lots of valuable advice and the examples how to turn techniques into real commercial products. Social day was travelling and exploring Porto with the guide of summer school community and it was great chance to meet people who has similar background and common interest.

These 8 days was unforgettable and rich. The techniques I have learnt was extract what I need for my own research. The hand-on sessions built my confidence to apply techniques, which was always a hard thing for me since I didn’t know how to apply them even I understand the theory behind. Practice also makes me understand the theory more. I would strongly recommend this summer school for the people who need deep learning and computer vision knowledge to boost their research.


Article by cohort 2 reseacher Rhys Comissiong.

On the 1st July, I participated in the Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CAV) Hackathon hosted by Transport Systems Catapult (TSC). The event was held at their Milton Keynes office where each team had the opportunity to tackle one of the five challenges. These included: exploring CAV data, CAV ecosystem business models, build a LUTZ simulation, environmental impact and accessible CAV design. We had 26 hours to work on the challenges before presenting at to a panel of judges and the other competitors.

Cav HackTeam ROSteK consisted of myself, Dr Thomas Steffen (my supervisor), Mauricio Silva (University of Northampton) and Ashton Bowen (De Montfort University). We decided to tackle the challenge of building a CAV simulation. TSC provided us with data, equipment (including a driving simulator and an Omnideck virtual reality simulator), and expert mentors in the field of autonomous vehicles and simulation. We recognised that a key challenge to testing autonomous vehicles is latency of feedback of the controller during simulation. For this reason, we wanted to find a way of putting the actual controller of the autonomous vehicle within the simulation, rather than modelling it. We achieved this by creating an MQTT broker to bridge the virtual world in Unity (windows-based gaming engine) and the controller in Linux-based Robotic Operating System (ROS). This allowed us to test the quality of a controller, similar to how you would test an engine on a test bed before putting it in a vehicle in the automotive industry.

Our business pitch to the judges was that through high performance computing you could exponentially increase the amount of testing prior to putting the autonomous vehicle on the road. Each group had 4 minutes to present their ideas which was then judged on novelty, technical complexity, business model and quality of presentation. Our efforts of working continuously through the night were rewarded by being declared the winners of the weekend. We were given Amazon Echo Dot’s as a prize and the top 3 groups were put through to present our ideas at the showcase finale at the London Transport Museum on the 12th July.

We had just over a week to further develop our ideas and put together a 10-minute presentation on as a business pitch. At the showcase finale, there was a drinks reception within the museum; which allowed for networking opportunity with people from academia, government and industry, and a vast range of disciplines. Around 100 people were in attendance, which included a different expert panel of judges and guest speakers. At the end of the presenting the judges were given the opportunity to ask questions which focused on the business, social and ethical issues of the projects. The winners were presented with a £2000 prize and the opportunity to present their work to the industry sponsors. Team ROSteK finished as runners up.

Despite not winning the showcase finale, it was a fantastic opportunity to learn about advances in the field of autonomous vehicles. The most significant thing I learnt was how important it is to tailor the information we delivered to our audiences. Depending on their background their agendas would vastly differ and so you had a to have an extensive knowledge to be able to answer the range of questions and explain why your work is both relevant and applicable. This is something I plan on doing with my own PhD work when preparing for presenting, communicating with my sponsor company and networking.

The European Commission has awarded 2.72 MEuros (£2.43M) to Heriot-Watt University to renew their Erasmus Mundus Master of Sciences in Smart Systems Integration for a further three years. This MSc programme, whose technical modules at Heriot-Watt University are followed by some of the CDT-EI students, is one of the 25 Masters in Europe awarded out of around 120 proposals.

The two-year Master is co-ordinated by Dr Changhai Wang from the Institute of Signals, Sensors and Systems at Heriot-Watt University with the participation from the University College of South East Norway and the Budapest University of Technology and Economics in Hungary. Some of the graduates of the Master end up becoming CDT-EI PhD students.

“I am truly delighted by the note of confidence from the Evaluation Panel of Experts appointed by the European Commission, says Prof. Marc Desmulliez, one of the Co-Is of the proposal and Principal Lecturer in this Master. I am personally gratified by the panel comments about “the high quality, industry relevant master programme” and “the collaboration agreement reflecting good collaboration between its partners”. The development of a new module in Entrepreneurship and Leadership was particularly welcome by the panel.

The 3-year award will allow the funding of three cohorts of students for a total of around 56 new MSc overseas and home/EU students who will be fully paid (stipends, tuition fees and travel) for a period of 2 years. The Master is very competitive with around 250 to 350 applications per year for only 20 funded places.

Details about the course can be obtained at

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