Jacobs, The University of Manchester and UK Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council’s (EPSRC) have announced that they will be jointly funding a new international research centre dedicated to robotics and autonomous systems.
The pair hope the centre will support the develop of solutions to support global climate responses.
The Centre for Robotic Autonomy in Demanding and Long-lasting Environments (CRADLE) will research new technologies for heavily regulated industry sectors such as space, nuclear decommissioning, energy generation and urban infrastructure.
What’s more, the centre will be co-funded to a total value of US$11m (£8.9m) over five years by Jacobs, the University of Manchester and the EPSRC Prosperity Partnerships programme.
“Securing this prestigious Prosperity Partnerships grant allows Jacobs and The University of Manchester to research the autonomous systems that industry needs to solve today’s challenges and create a more connected and sustainable world,” said Karen Wiemelt, senior VP of energy, security & technology at Jacobs.
“Robotics is already a core strength of Jacobs’ work in the energy and space sectors and this research collaboration will enable us to develop advanced technologies to help achieve net zero targets, such as autonomous inspection and repair systems to extend the life of water and energy networks, roads, bridges and railways.”
Jacobs, which is investing US$4.6m (£3.7m), will be able to commercialise technologies developed at CRADLE for its customers in urban infrastructure, energy generation, nuclear power, decommissioning and space exploration, where robust and reliable autonomous robotics are crucial for efficient asset management and operations.
“CRADLE will allow the university’s recently established Manchester Centre for Robotics and AI to build a relationship with one of the leading organisations involved in applied robotics, helping us to progress our fundamental research in this area and to deliver impact from the robotic and AI systems that we are developing,” said Professor Barry Lennox, co-director of the centre.
CRADLE’s research remit will include mechatronics, software and how communities and regulators will engage with future robotic systems.
Jacobs staff will support 12 PhD students in researching and performing prototype demonstrations at The University of Manchester and at Jacobs’ robotics laboratories in Warrington.