Robots built to save lives will be developed at new UK centre of excellence
23 June 2015
Safety critical structures such as nuclear power reactors,
offshore oil and gas platforms, or wind turbines require continuous inspection.
The majority of these inspections – known as non-destructive testing (NDT) – are
carried out manually and expose inspectors to major health and safety risks.
Studies have also shown that manual inspection can miss major
defects in safety critical structures due to human error.
The new London South Bank Innovation Centre (LSBIC) for
Automation of NDT will create the next generation of autonomous robotic systems
that can carry out inspections with little or no human operator involvement.
The partnership between London South Bank University and TWI
– one of the largest research and technology organisations in Europe – will
allow TWI's 700 industrial member companies access to LSBIC's research,
resulting in a direct route to application. The establishment of the new
innovation centre represents the beginning of a long-term strategic partnership
that will, in its first five years of operation, provide a home for 14
researchers and eight TWI-funded PhDs. Developments will be led by industry,
with the needs of TWI's industrial members determining the direction of
The LSBIC will be led by London South Bank University's Professor
Tariq Sattar, an engineer who has specialised in robotics for more than 25
years. Prof Sattar and his team have received a number of plaudits for their
work, and have been awarded research income totalling more than €2 million from
collaboration with TWI.
Professor Sattar said: "We are excited about providing
innovative solutions to the inspection needs of TWI's industrial members. We
see this as a wonderful opportunity to take our innovative prototype robots to
the next stage of technology readiness level where they become regularly employed
in industry to perform inspection tasks. They will keep human operators out of harm's
way and increase the profitability of industrial operations by reducing
downtime and outages."
Professor David Mba, London South Bank University's Dean of
the School of Engineering and LSBIC board member said: "The UK's industrial
strategy has identified robotics and autonomous systems as one of the eight
great technologies in which the UK is set to be a world leader. Therefore this
is a tremendous opportunity to demonstrate the impact of many years of
fundamental research in robotics which London South Bank University has
LSBIC will operate from TWI's newly constructed 25,000
square meter world-class facilities in a thriving, industrially driven,
professional working environment in Cambridge.
Professor Tat-Hean Gan, Associate Director of TWI, said: "I am delighted that London South Bank University has entered
into this agreement with TWI to establish the London South Bank Innovation
Centre. The collaboration will strengthen TWI's technical expertise in
automated inspection, especially for harsh and complex environment