Engineering and Innovation at the University of Birmingham

For over 100 years, innovative academic research at the University of Birmingham has influenced society and made an impact on people’s lives. Birmingham is where pacemakers, plastic heart valves, and the cavity magnetron was developed, leading to applications such as radar and the microwave oven.

Today, the University continues to build on this pioneering heritage and remains at the forefront of research, leading the field in many of the emerging disciplines of the 21st century, including nanotechnology, robotics, and virtual reality.

Leading-edge research is at the core of the College of Engineering and Physical Sciences at the University of Birmingham. From atoms to astronomy, computers to cars, and robots to robust materials; the goal is to transform our understanding of the world to make life easier, healthier and more sustainable.

Over the next few months, we’ll be releasing a series of short videos that provide an introduction to the areas of research being carried out at the University of Birmingham, including a few words on artificial intelligence from Professor Jeremy Wyatt of the Intelligent Robotics Laboratory.

Below is the first full video on A.I and a few teasers of what’s to come!

Putting the smarts in robots

The Intelligent Robotics Laboratory and Professor Jeremy Wyatt develop algorithms that enable robots to work in uncertain and unfamiliar environments. With a focus on autonomous robot planning, architectures for robot intelligence, robots that learn, robot manipulation, machine vision, and general machine learning, they aim to provide a robot with explicit representations of what it does and doesn’t know, and of how its knowledge changes under the actions it can perform. This ability will allow robots to plan in challenging environments where little data is initially available.

Jeremy Wyatt Professor of Robotics and Artificial Intelligence is developing algorithms to help robots pick up unfamiliar objects.

Upcoming video’s:

Advanced manufacturing methods

The Materials Processing group is based at the University of Birmingham’s School of Metallurgy and Materials. Their research programme is carried out in the Advanced Materials and Processing Laboratory and aims at understanding the influence of advanced materials processing techniques.

The scientific emphasis is on understanding material-process interactions, utilising electron microscopy, synchrotron X-rays and neutron diffraction, and micro-tomography, to assess the impact of the processing method on the microstructural, structural integrity, and residual stress development. The group hosts unique experimental systems, making it one of the centres of excellence in netshape manufacturing in the UK.

The research is conducted in close collaboration with a large number of industrial end-users in the aerospace, defence, nuclear, and engineering sectors.

Research at the Advanced Materials and Processing Laboratory aims at understanding the influence of advanced materials processing techniques.

Blending the best of the real with the best of the virtual

Established in 2003, the team are a multidisciplinary group of award-winning researchers focused on human-centred research and design issues relevant to future interactive technologies. Led by Professor Bob Stone and based in the University’s Department of Electronic, Electrical and Systems Engineering, their research covers task and usability analysis; human factors integration; ergonomics; the design and evaluation of advanced interfaces, including wearable computing, virtual, augmented and ‘mixed’ reality; and telerobotics and telepresence projects. They deliver research on behalf of and in collaboration with a range of partners in the defence, healthcare, heritage and telerobotics/telepresence sectors.

Professor Bob Stone is experimenting with VR to train future defence medics.

Making energy clean

The work of the Birmingham Centre for Energy Storage (BCES) and its Director, Professor Yulong Ding sits within University’s Birmingham Energy Institute, a 140 member strong partnership changing the way we deliver, consume and think about energy. BCES research is driving innovation and taking concepts from the laboratory to market.

Cryogenic energy storage (CES) systems use off-peak electricity to liquefy air. The cryogenic liquid that is formed is stored in a vessel then vapourised into a gas during an expansion process, which drives a turbine. This system generates electricity when it is most needed; solving the ‘wrong-time wrong-place’ generation and supply problem.

The cryogenic liquid can additionally be used to improve the efficiency of diesel generators, which are routinely used as reserve capacity on the grid. The system is also an efficient mechanism for generating electricity from low-grade waste heat from power stations or industrial processes. Unlike some other energy storage technologies, CES does not require scarce resources and is not limited by geography or geology.

Professor Yulong Ding is developing cryogenic energy storage systems.

To learn more about the University of Birmingham’s industrial collaborations you can visit their website or contact Sam Hickman.

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