Pawel Ladosz one of CDT-EI researchers had an opportunity to attend ROScon and IROS conferences this year in Vancouver, Canada.

ROScon which lasted two days on 21st and 22nd of September is a conference dedicated to Robotic Operating System (ROS). ROS is a very popular tool amongst both academia and industry to allow quick and easy integration of sensors, actuators and robotics platforms. The conference was a single track and was focused on latest development of ROS, future updates and examples of current usages. Presenters included but were not limited to guests from ETH, Shadow Robot, Clearpath robotics, Bosch and Daimler AG.

IROS which took place between 24th and 25th of September is one of the most prestigious conferences dedicated to robotics research. The conference consisted of two workshop days and three conference days. It covers all fields related to robotics such as computer vision, path planning, machine learning, control and design. In 2017 2164 papers were submitted and out of those 970 papers was accepted. Speakers included but were not limited to Fei Fei Li expert in computer vision from Stanford University and Google, Dieter Fox expert in artificial intelligence from the University of Washington, Jorge Cham creator of PhD comics and Joey Durham one of the creators of Amazon robotic warehouses from Amazon robotics.

Pawel presented his work on unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) communication relays during IROS. His focus is on using UAVs to help a group of ground nodes (such as rescue workers) communicate with each other during a disaster relief scenario in urban environments. In this work machine learning technique called Gaussian Process was used in assistance of UAV trajectory planner to learn to predict communication strength between itself and ground nodes. For more information and access to paper email Pawel at

biosensing and surf

10 November 2017

Cohort 3 researcher, Marcus Pollard, had the opportunity to develop some new skills during a recent bespoke training course. He explains more...

My trip was to attend a one-to-one training course which was supplied by Nanopore Solutions Ltd at ITQB-NOVA in Oeiras, Portgual. The aim of the training was to introduce myself to a modern method of nanopore fabrication, but also covered many other elements of nanopore experimentation such as equipment set-up, troubleshooting and data analysis. I hope to apply what I have learned to my work in the future. The highlight of the trip for me was the opportunity to network with James Yates, the Manager of Nanopore Solutions, which gave me further insight into the nanopore and biosensing industry. However, it wasn’t all work and no play, I managed to see Lisbon, sample the local delicacies and even tried a spot of surfing which is not as easy as it looks on TV.


Say YES to enterprise

9 November 2017

As part of the CDT programme we take part in a unique set of training focusing on leadership, management and teamwork skills under the ‘transition zone’. Last month I got the opportunity to apply these skills in the Engineering Young Entrepreneur Scheme at Nottingham University. The challenge ran from October 18th to 20th and consisted of two full days of training and mentoring before we pitched a business to a panel of judges on the final day in the form of a presentation.

Our team consisted of cohort 2 and 3 students including myself (CEO), Marcus Pollard (Finance Director), Joel Earps (Research and Development Director), Robin Hamer (Commercial and Marketing Director) and Athansios Pouchias (Operations Director). Our business was called ‘Intelligent Cold Engineering – ICE’ and aimed to reduce food waste within the cold store part of the supply chain through technology based on the internet of things and sensor-based intelligent management system.

Yes Team

Even though we were pitching a fictional company for a fictional investment, we still applied the knowledge we had gained through the seminars and training sessions in finance, marketing strategies and intellectual property to develop a real and convincing business model. For this reason the competition was an invaluable experience to undertake during the PhD. In addition to our studies, we got the opportunity to see and understand the necessary steps in building a start-up company and what must be considered. One of the most insightful aspects of the competition was the ability to see and reflect upon other groups and other entrepreneurs work, and see what methods were successful in obtaining funding. As early career researchers gaining an understanding of this is truly valuable. Also, we had hours of personal mentoring with financial experts, business leaders and venture capitalists who were able to reflect upon their own experiences within obtaining and giving funding.

The event was very well run, as each day managed to fit in so many activities in addition to us developing our business pitch. Personally, I am truly grateful that I got to experience this opportunity with close colleagues as it was through hard work, and a positive atmosphere that got us through the often long nights required to finish the work. I would also like to thank Tracey Hassall-Jones for organising the event. I believe this was a fantastic opportunity to practice presentation and finance skills. However, what I was most grateful for was the opportunity to see how non-technical audiences interpret the work of the CDT. Embedded intelligence is a very technical field and often as PhD students we spend the majority of our time communicating with our technical audiences, often we can forget just how important it is to develop our communication skills to all audiences and understand what their agenda and take away might be. I would thoroughly recommend this experience to students in the other cohorts, but make sure you approach it with a positive attitude where your aim is to learn as much as possible from the experience, even in failure. This is a particularly important skill as an entrepreneur because if you aren’t failing, you aren’t trying hard enough.


7 November 2017

Cohort 4 researcher, Maren Schnieder, attended the 5th World Collaborative Mobility Congress – "wocomoco" – in Berlin, Germany. The congress, which is hosted each year by the Swiss Mobility Academy, is a meeting place to discuss the latest innovations in car-, ride- and bike-sharing as well as in ride-hailing and in mobility as service (MaaS). Over the three days, key note speakers from Europe and America presented their innovative mobility solutions. Maren especially benefited from the presentations about bike sharing, logistics, cargo bicycles, ebikes and the digital shift in road transportation. The congress was an ideal platform for Maren to discuss with ebike-sharing startups, city planners, public transport providers and researchers what the next generation electric (cargo) bicycle has to offer.

COMSOL Conference

31 October 2017

Cohort 1 student Joe Holt recently attended the COMSOL Conference 2017 in Rotterdam, the Netherlands during the 17th, 18th and 19th of October.

I had the opportunity to present my conference paper “3D Acoustic-Structure Interaction of Ultrasound in Fluids for the Manufacture of Graded Materials”, which can be viewed here My slot was in the Acoustics branch of the user presentations where I presented my work on the acoustics of foams. In my model the foam is represented by a bulk material model that calculates the resulting acoustic field in the foam, excited by ultrasonic transducers. The presentation and paper were well received and a number of the questions at the end of the talk were related to application of the model. This model forms an important part of my research which is trying to assess the feasibility of using ultrasound for the manufacture of porosity graded polymers and composites.

During the conference I had the opportunity to network with numerous other COMSOL users from around Europe and discuss our methods and challenges. Additionally, there were COMSOL workshops on specific packages within the software. I managed to attend five throughout the duration of the conference, which provided me with some fresh ideas for my future modelling work.

Report by Cohort 3 researcher, Robin Hamer

This was a one day conference intended for human factors practitioners within the nuclear industry. The conference was split into 11 talks which, each given on a separate aspect of human factors, human factors within the nuclear industry, or human factors related to decommissioning. I found the talks very useful in terms of the human factors challenges within the nuclear industry and decommissioning sector. Many of the talks were suitable and related to my PhD and I obtained the relevant contact details of the speakers in the hope of using them for my second study (expert panel interviews):



Talk Title

Jon Berman

Greenstreet Berman Ltd

Human Factors in Decommissioning Safety Cases – managing a changing safety


Bob Hawkrigg


Cavendish Nuclear

Appropriate human factors input to decommissioning safety case

Jonathan Pyke

Sellafield Ltd

Sellafield: a site under change

Rob Cotterill

EDF Nuclear Generation

Paint it black: End-to-end human factors in design and delivery for Sizewell B dry

fuel store

Christian Wilhelm

Dounreay Site Restoration Ltd

Decommissioning Dounreay – Challenges for human factors

John Lovegrove

Canary Designs

A survival guide to practising ergonomics in the nuclear decommissioning industry

when the schedule dominates proceedings

Bill Gall

Kingsley Management Ltd

An EI guide to integrating human factors into decommissioning projects

Clive Tunley

Office for Nuclear Regulation

The Regulator’s view

Grant Hudson

Cavendish Nuclear

Human factors: What flavour are you?

Furthermore, after listening to the talks at this conference it is clear to see that human factors is applicable in 4 distinct areas: existing operations (most money being spent), new builds (some money being spent), decommissioning (no/little money being spent) and fuel recycling and waste storage (little money being spent). This was a great help to know where the scope of the PhD may be best suited for the greatest impact.

Highlights of the day included networking with: Grant Hudson and Christian Wilhelm. I found that both Grant and Christian were very interested by the topic of the PhD and Christian who is also trying to do some Safety-II work and was very interested to share knowledge. They would also be very keen to participate in the expert panel interview which was very useful as they are both in different sectors within the nuclear industry. I also obtained some information on people who are attempted to do practical work on Safety-II in other industries (there was a mention of someone doing work with aviation). I hope to follow up on these leads and find out more information of where Safety-II may fit in.

To summarise, the event was very useful to hear about the burning issues within decommissioning especially with a human factors focus. The event provided some useful networking opportunities which gave some useful contacts. Finally, the event has prompted me to attend more human factors conferences to develop and grow my personal network.

Report by Cohort 4 researcher, Luke Wilkinson

I attended the inaugural West Midlands Seminar for the Oil & Colour Chemists Association (OCCA) at the Ricoh Arena, Coventry on Monday 16th October. It aimed to bring industrial partners and academia together to discuss the latest advancements in the coatings sector. Established in 1918, the OCCA has been a leading association in accrediting work and encouraging partnerships within the coatings sector. The seminar had four guest speakers from a variety of backgrounds and companies.

The first speaker was from Tremco and was titled ‘Fire Prevention’. The presentation began with many statistics on fire, with the most interesting being that it would take less than 4 minutes to fill a 6 metre cubed room with smoke through a hole the size of a pencil. This has lead companies to strive to compartmentalise buildings to prevent the spread of fire and smoke, leading to intense research into finding materials to plug holes in walls around windows, doors, electrical cables and pipes. Tremco manufacture passive fire prevention techniques and give their products ‘fire prevention ratings’ E30, E60, E120, E180 and E240, which are the minutes they can withstand a temperature increase of +140 degrees compared to ambient temperature. An interesting point from this talk was that certain fire prevention materials are well suited to only a small number of uses. For example, polyurethane foam is able to have an E240 rating for horizontal and vertical joints between bricks and concrete, but if used to fill a larger hole, e.g. 200mmx200mx150mm, it only withstands heat for 5 minutes before combusting and failing. I found this talk extremely interesting and informative. There was a good balance of case studies and how they affect the processes and testing undertaken by the chemical industry.

SurfaChem gave a talk on titanium dioxide and its changing uses over recent years. TiO2 is used in sun cream to prevent the harmful effects of UV. In the USA, skin cancer is classified as a disease, and as sun cream prevents this disease, it is certified as a drug by the FDA. In the EU, sun cream is classified as a cosmetic product and is subject to different laws. The nano form of TiO2 is often used in sun creams. The concerns about the use of nanotechnology were raised, including can the nanoparticles be inhaled, and as TiO2 is not naturally occurring in humans, can it be excreted. Issues around labelling were also raised, and the example of paraben was cited; people stopped using paraben based on a medical report, yet it was still used in Calpol, and were still giving it to children. The point about risks and benefits outweighing each other were discussed, and what the chemical industry can do to label chemicals in a way that does not cause panic among consumers. This talk was very informative and opened my eyes to the considerations the chemical industry has to take when developing products and how they are labelled and marketed.

A short coffee break followed to allow for networking opportunities, and discussions with companies with table top displays.

The third speaker was from Altana and was titled ‘Using Laponite for Unique Rheology Modification Properties’. Laponite is a synthetic inorganic layered structure based on an octahedral arrangement of lithium and magnesium and a tetrahedral arrangement of sodium and silicon. It can be dispersed in water to form a gel. It has a unique rheology that allows sheer thinning viscosity. The delegate explained the applications of laponite, which mainly consisted of allowing pigments in paint to be suspended evenly and allow a better distribution of colour and there was a demonstration of multi-coloured paints and how laponite is key in ensuring different colours in paints aimed at replicating materials such as granite do not mix. Other applications of laponite involve wood coatings and coatings in the automotive industry. The talk was well structured, and offered a good insight into an industrial company and the work they do in the coatings sector.

The final speaker was from the company Samuel Banner and was about Biocides and related challenged. It was explained that biocides are chemicals added to coatings that are there to fight off fungal growth on or within the coating. There was a lot of information on the legislation to do with certification and how the industry needs to label their chemicals. One interesting point was that if a company makes a claim, for example, ‘kills 99% of bacteria’, it costs over £2 million to make that claim, and they have to back it up within 2 years of submitting it. This was the most challenging talk of the day to understand as there were a lot of acronyms without definition hence I felt it was aimed at the industry experts and did not engage enough with people from outside the direct circle of biocides.

All in all, it was a positive first experience at a conference. There were many important things the industrial world has to consider within chemistry which were highlighted and I can now reflect upon these when I am doing academic lead chemistry. It was also good to gain my first experience in networking opportunities.

The conference "8th European Conference on Precision Livestock Farming" was held in Nantes France. Cohort 1 research Adrian Ayastuy Rodriguez presented a poster and published a paper titled "Novel activity monitoring system based on smart collar and variational Bayesian learning of multivariate autoregressive hidden Markov models".

Adrian found the research presented at the conference to be of interest and took the opportunity to discuss work on tracking animals and predictive healthcare with peers. In particular, new techniques for measuring animal weight without direct contact and new techniques for location tracking and behaviour recognition.  During the poster session there was significant interest in Adrian’s work and the method used to analyse data. There is potential for new collaborations from these conversations.

On the final day of the conference there was an excursion to SPACE '18 an exhibition of livestock in Rennes. The exhibition allowed Adrian to meet distributors of animal collars, which he has been using throughout his research, and to discuss the technical aspects of sensors, the ergonomics of collars, and as well as the market and industry.

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