The Centre for Robotics and Autonomous System at the University of Salford is one of the largest Robotics groups in the UK. The Centre, which is site of the UK’s National Advanced Robotics Research Centre, is renowned for fostering interdisciplinary activities both in academic research and within projects stemming from collaborations with partners among the major players in different industries.
Over the years, the Centre gained a two-fold advantage: robust technical know-how within individual research areas, and a uniquely wide perspective of the application of different technology based on robotics and automation in several industries, which, in turn, is extremely beneficial from a system integration standpoint.
In 1987, the University of Salford was the founding site for the UK’s National Advanced Robotics Research Centre (NARRC). Since then, robotics has formed the major strategic direction in Engineering within the University, thus, offering the Centre the opportunity of leading collaborations with other research units.
The Centre - currently led by Professor Samia Nefti-Meziani - has strong national and international connections with both other research institutes and the industry, with specific regard to manufacturing and partners, particularly in the Aerospace and Food sectors. Salford researchers have been at the forefront of strategic national developments initiated by several organizations in different areas of interest including: the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAFF), the Department of Business Innovation and Skills (BIS), the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC). Also, the Centre participated to multiple international initiatives from the European Union. Currently, the Centre is host for two government sponsored networks in Robotincs and in Automation, as part of the DEFRA-sponsored Food Manufacturing Engineering Group.
Moreover, the Centre for Robotics and Automation has a strong history in transferring its expertise to students. Taught course activities at undergraduate level in the area of robotics began in 1995 and an M.Sc. programme in Robotics and Automation started in 1996. The M.Sc. programme links closely with M.Sc. courses in Intelligent Machines and Mechatronics. The current annual intake onto the M.Sc programme in Robotics and Automation is 12-15 students per year.
In addition to taught courses, the Center has a unique offer of different Ph.D. programmes towards Master of Philosophy (M.Phil.), Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.), and Professional Doctorate (D.Prof.), with approximately 80-100 students involved in robotics research activities covering a wide range of topics and applications.
Over the years, the Centre developed a unique expertise in several areas in the field of Robotics and Automation, which, in turn, offer a unique advantage in terms of both basic and applied research. The Centre focuses its research on automation systems, robot and machine design, dexterous end effectors, legged robots and walking systems, soft robotics, biomimetics and biologically-inspired robots, haptics and telepresence, physical human-robot interaction, rehabilitation robotics, cognitive robotics and autonomous systems, uninhabited autonomous systems and unmanned air vehicles, and food automation. In addition, the Centre gained expertise in adjacent research topics and is extremely open to leveraging its know-how and facilities to explore other topics and to support multidisciplinary research in different areas.
The Centre for Robotics and automation focuses on the following areas:
Actuators – As robots are being increasingly used in domains other than manufacturing the traditional hydraulic, pneumatic and electric actuators are not always suitable. Salford has been developing new advanced actuators which provide improved performance, such as high power to weight ratio and variable stiffness.
Biomimetics/biologically inspired robotics – This theme involves looking to nature to see how it solves problems and then attempting to use this inspiration to develop novel robotic systems. We have developed a number of biologically inspired robots most notably walking robots based on both canine and primate anatomy.
Soft robotics – Traditional robots are typically metallic and as a result are heavy and rigid, soft robots, as the name suggests, are formed from much softer and more flexible materials. This means soft robots interact with the environment in a very different manner to traditional robots, they can deform when in contact with obstacles allowing them to perform tasks and work in environments previously unsuited to robots. The ability to deform and absorb impact also make soft robots inherently safe when operating near people.
End effectors – Many products, particularly items of food cannot be grasped with traditional end effectors. We have extensive experience in developing novel end effectors for grasping difficult to hand products.
Dexterous hands – Robots are multipurpose tools, however, traditional robot grippers tend to only be able to handle a single or small range of products. If the robot is retasked the end effector often needs to be changed. This is costly and time consuming and as a result there is a drive to develop multipurpose grippers. We have extensive experience develop dexterous grippers based on the human hand.
Automation for the food industry – The food industry uses less automation than other manufacturing sectors. The main reasons for this are the fact that food products are typically deformable and they have high levels of natural variation. This means traditional automation is not suitable. We have worked with more than 50 food companies to explore the use of automation and have developed many novel automated systems.
Physical human robot interaction (pHRI) – In the future robots will operate close to and in collaboration with people. Existing robots are unable to achieve this in safe manner and we are developing both hardware and software systems to allow safe physical human robot interaction.
Rehabilitation robotics – With an aging population and pressures on health budgets robotics is becoming increasingly important in healthcare. We are developing exoskeletons and other robotics devices to assist with rehabilitation.
The Marie Curie Initial Training Network, SMART-E (Sustainable Manufacturing through Advanced Robotics Training in Europe), coordinated by the University of Salford, has launched a new European research and training programme on Advanced Robotics under the European Union programme FP7-PEOPLE-2013-ITN with a total budget of approximately €4 million. SMART-E will develop a leading European Doctoral Training programme, training 15 high calibre Researchers in the areas of Dexterous, Soft and Compliant Robotics in Manufacturing; Reconfigurable and Logistics Robotics; and Safety & Human Robot Interaction.
Coordinated by Prof Samia Nefti-Meziani, SMART-E brings together a team of world-renowned experts in robotics from leading universities in the UK, Germany, Italy and Switzerland ((University of Salford, University of Sheffield, Technical University of Munich, Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna, Italian Institute of Technology,University of Zurich) and a world leading manufacturers and end users of Automation in the Aerospace and Food sectors including FESTO, AIRBUS and the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC). The team is supported by a number of additional leading Universities, research laboratories and industries as associated partners.
The Autonomous Systems & Robotics Research Centre holds the leading role in Autonomous mission planning and management, task allocation, hybrid optimisation, and intelligent decision making in the GAMMA Programme (Growing Autonomous Mission Management Applications).
Lead Partners in this programme include North West Aerospace Alliance (NWAA) and BAE Systems, together with the Universities of Salford, Manchester, Lancaster, Liverpool, UCLAN, Liverpool (including the Virtual Engineering Centre), and National Nuclear Laboratories.
GAMMA is a three year £9.1 million Autonomous Systems programme aimed at driving SME engagement and developing technology within the emerging autonomous systems markets. GAMMA technology areas of interest include data management, image processing, sensing and communication and mission planning and management.
Development of a novel Soft, variable stiffness continuum manipulator.
The future of manufacturing will likely require robots working close to, and in collaboration with humans. This has led to the development of ‘soft’ and compliant robotic systems which mimic the soft interaction between people. This study is developing a physically soft manipulator able to vary its stiffness depending upon its task requirements. This will enable it to operate in a safe low stiffness mode when moving large distances but switch to a high stiffness mode to allow for precise/accurate position control. This will result in a robot manipulator which unlike most ‘soft’ systems is able to achieve high levels of accuracy.
One of the main challenges of robotic grasping is preventing slippage while manipulating objects. Slippage can cause the grasped object to fall and break, which might lead to a grievous situation especially if the handled object is expensive or contains hazardous substances. Also, grasping an object with sufficient force to prevent slippage, whilst not damaging or deforming the shape of the object proves to be an intricate challenge despite the existence of a huge body of literature on robotic grasping. Saber’s research focuses at designing a nonlinear impedance-slip control for robotic hands, grippers and end effectors. When grasping objects, the controller should robustly overcome external nonlinear disturbances, along with inaccuracies in the system model, preventing slippage and minimizing deformation of objects.
Current sensing technologies are very challenging to implement over 3D surfaces, sometimes expensive and difficult to replace, while a soft and low-cost solution able to reproduce some of the properties of our skin is needed, especially on high-deformable areas as the robotic-joints. In this way it is possible to enable and maximise the quality of the robot interactions’ with the surrounding environment.
This work describes an initial step towards the realisation of a stretchable and deformation-responsive “sensitive skin” for reproducing the human sensing capabilities in robotic applications. We are developing a sensor as a pressure sensitive fabric material which responds to external stimuli by changing its electrical conductivity. The stretchable sensor is surrounded by electrodes for the electrical circuit and in this way, since it does not present internal wires, it is extremely soft and stretchable. When an external stimulus is applied, the variations in the internal conductivity of the sensitive skin will change the distribution of the injected electrical current inside it, resulting in a variation of the measured voltages at the boundary. The collected potentials are then sent to a software for reconstructing the image of the internal conductivity distribution.
So far a second prototype of the experimental set-up with PCB has been developed. We have been working on the voltage data and study the performance parameters for the optimisation of the drive patterns. We have demonstrated that, depending on the present stimuli position over the conductive domain, the selection of electrodes on which current injection and voltage reading are performed, can be chosen dynamically resulting in an improved quality of the reconstructed image and system performance. At the moment we are focusing on developing reconstruction algorithms to improve the time and spatial resolution of the sensor and to achieve touch interpretation.
My current research is on developing a novel self-healing framework for Robots and Complex machinery. The key behind this framework is the mathematical modelling of the degrading components within a mechanical system, where the wear interactions between components are taken into account, leading to a more accurate indication of system health, and thus maintenance actions can be scheduled accordingly minimising human intervention, increasing the autonomous aspect of the system and giving the appearance of self-healing. The self-healing framework will start from the diagnostics and prognostics of a system; it uses a data-driven approach, using statistical modelling and machine learning. It works by classifying normal response of a system under a specific operation scheme, which then makes it easier to identify incipient faults; this will also lead to more accurate remaining useful lifetime calculations, and so prevent downtime that leads to economic losses and in some cases human casualties.
Recently, UAVs are promising to be a cost-effective and safe approach to improve awareness in any given environment. Although UAV technologies are reliable in gathering and sharing information with base stations, current technologies are limited to short flights. Hence available multicopters are not permissive. Murad is currently working on a self-regulated, fail safe hybrid propulsion system which will improve the flight endurance increasing the effectiveness in battle scenarios.
Designing a multi-robot system provides numerous advantages for many applications, such as low cost, multi-tasking and more efficient group work. While the rigidity of the robots used in industrial and medical application increase the probability of risk of injury. Therefore, many researches are done to increase the safety factor for robot-human interaction, as a result, either the separated between the human and robot is suggested or the force shutdown to robot system is applied. These solutions might be useful for industrial application but it is not for medical and the application require the direct interaction between the human the machine. To overcome the rigidity problem, a soft robot arm is presented. Ala aims to design and build multi soft robot system and design a suitable cooperative control system.
Mohd Nadhir Ab Wahab
Swarm Intelligence (SI) is one of the prominent techniques employed to solve optimisation problems. It has been applied to problems pertaining to engineering, schedule, planning, networking and design. However, this technique has two main limitations. First, the SI technique may not be suitable for real-time application, as it does not have the same aspects of limitations as a real-time platform. Second, setting the parameter for SI techniques to produce the most promising outcome is challenging. Therefore, this study has been conducted to overcome these two limitations. Based on the literature, Particle Swarm Optimization (PSO) was selected as the main SI for this study, due to its proven performances, abilities and simplicity. Five new techniques were created based on the PSO technique in order to address the two limitations. The first two techniques focused on the first limitation, while the other three techniques focused on the latter. Three main experiments (benchmark problems, engineering problems, path planning problems) were designed to assess the capabilities and performances of these five new techniques. These new techniques were also compared against several other well-established SI techniques such as the Genetic Algorithm (GA), Differential Equation (DE) and Cuckoo Search Algorithm (CSA). Potential Field (PF), Probabilistic Road Map (PRM), Rapidly-explore Random Tree (RRT) and Dijkstra’s Algorithm (DA) were also included in the path planning problem in order to compare these new techniques’ performances against Classical methods of path planning. Results showed all five introduced techniques managed to outperform or at least perform as good as well-established techniques in all three experiments.
Wajid Rasheed Ismaeel Al-Rikabi
Fuzzy type-2 controllers can easily deal with systems nonlinearity and utilise human expertise to solve many complex control problems; they are also very good at processing uncertainty, which exists in many robotic systems, such as autonomous vehicles. However, their computational cost is high, especially at the type reduction stage. In this research, we aimed to reduce the computation cost of the type reduction stage, thus to facilitate faster performance speed and increase the number of actions able to be operated in one microprocessor. Proposed here are adaptive integration principles with a binary successive search technique to locate any straight sections in fuzzy sets, then using them to cut the cost of the weighted average computation, which runs in many type reductions. A variable adaptation rate is suggested during the type reduction iterations to reduce the computation cost further. The influence of the proposed approaches on the fuzzy type-2 controller’s error has been mathematically analysed and then experimentally measured using a wall following behaviour, which is the most important action for many autonomous vehicles. Results show a performance time-gain exceeding 200%.
This study develops a new accelerated version of the enhanced Karnik-Mendel type reducer by using better initialisations and better indexing scheme. The resulting performance time-gain reached 170%, with respect to the original version. A further cut in the type reduction time was achieved by proposing a One-Go type reduction procedure. This technique can reduce multiple sets altogether in one pass, thus eliminating much of the redundant calculations needed to carry out the reduction individually. All the proposed type reduction enhancements were evaluated in terms of their execution time-gain and performance error using every possible fuzzy firing level combination. Tests were then performed using a real autonomous vehicle navigating in a relatively complex arena field with acute, right, obtuse, and reflex angled corners, to assure a wide variety of operation conditions. A simplified state hold technique using Schmitt-trigger principles and dynamic sense pattern control was suggested and implemented to assure small rule base size and to obtain a more accurate evaluation of the type reduction stages.
This study focuses directly on analysis and evaluation of human gait features such as spatial gait data, temporal gait data, spatiotemporal gait data, and kinematic gait data. The changes in gait features can be used for assisting in clinical diagnoses especially in cognitive diseases such as; multiple sclerosis. In this study, Microsoft Kinect v2 has been chosen to collect data form participants who are instructed to walk about 3 meters in the front of the camera which can provide data as 3D skeletal numerical data for 25 joints.
Loai Al Abeach
This research presents the design of a variable stiffness, soft, three fingered dexterous gripper. The gripper uses two designs of McKibben muscles. Extensor muscles which increase in length when pressurised are used to form the fingers of the gripper. Contractor muscles which decrease in length when pressurised are then used to apply forces to the fingers via tendons which cause flexion and extension of the fingers. The two types of muscles are arranged to act antagonistically and this means that by raising the pressure in all of the pneumatic muscles the stiffness of the system can be increased without a resulting change in finger position. The research presents the design of the gripper, some basic kinematics to describe its function and then experimental results demonstrating the ability to adjust the bending stiffness of the gripper’s fingers. It has been demonstrated that the finger’s bending stiffness can be increased by over 150%. The research concludes by demonstrating that the fingers can be closed loop position controlled and are able to track step and sinusoidal inputs.
In addition, three more end effectors are developed in this research as well. Two of them are modified variable stiffness, pneumatic, soft robot gripper designed to enhance the performance of the previous one. The third once which is variable stiffness too, however, its constructed using granular jamming criteria and its work depends on the negative pressure in contrast with the previous three soft grippers.
Soft wearable robots are efficient alternatives to rigid-frame exoskeletons because they are compact and lightweight. We are manufactured a wearable robot for human upper-limp power assist and rehabilitation because a physically handicapped elderly and disabled people can expect to live more independent life by using this kind of devices. We are developing a suitable intelligent control to control this device efficiently.
The Center collectively attracted over 30 research grants including:
Prof. Nefti-Meziani holds Doctorat D’etat in robotics and artificial intelligence and is Director of the Centre for Autonomous Systems & Advanced Robotics, and Chair of Robotics at the University of Salford. In this role, she leads a multidisciplinary team of 6 academics and 12 researchers in automation, robot/machine design, dexterous end effectors, legged robots, soft robotics, biologically-inspired robots, haptics/telepresence, physical human-robot interaction, rehabilitation robotics, cognitive robotics, uninhabited autonomous systems. She is an internationally leading researcher in embodied intelligence and cognition. She has 25 years’ experience in advanced theoretical research in the areas of embodied intelligence, advanced robotics where the focus of her contribution is in the development of concepts, mechanisms and algorithms. She has pioneered the first application of Soft Robotics in manufacturing.
She has published extensively in the above areas and the rigorous quality of her publications in AI and Robotics is evidenced by their high impact factors in Journals. The application value of her research has attracted significant national media coverage on Sky, the BBC, ITV, Granada, in addition to print and on-line media. She has wider practical cross sectorial technologies including Nuclear Food, Agriculture, Nuclear, Aerospace & Defence, and Healthcare through several projects.
She has also extensive leadership experience as a former Director of the Doctoral School of the 6* IRIS Research Institute (2005-08). She has been responsible for 150 doctoral students and all postgraduate research provision across various departments, and has nurtured a strong research culture and environment, which received the highest award for research environment (4*) in the 2008 (RAE). She has successfully supervised and graduated more than 30 PhD students and has extensive experience running very successful industrial sponsored robotics PG programmes at national and international level which attract more than 100 post-graduate students every year.
Prof. Nefti-Meziani is a proven strategic leader of multi-national, multi-sector, multi-faceted and complex Robotics & Artificial Intelligence research programmes. She is renowned for her extensive experience of leading and managing large scale multi-disciplinary research projects, funded by EU, involving multiple academic and industrial partners. Examples include the research and training programme SMART-E (€4m), for which she is the PI and which included 20 partners, comprising 7 academics and 13 companies, RobotCub (€8.5m), NovelQ (€11.3m) and ASTRAEA(£32m) and also the GAMMA (£9m) project that engaged 50 SMEs with 46 research proposals. She was also heavily involved in the management and delivery of CENFRA (£5m) and ASCEII(£16m. Through these programmes, and her role as an expert in robotics, she has worked very closely with food, aerospace and nuclear supply chain to deliver proof of concept and innovative low-cost robotics solutions for these programmes. She has also managed and delivered other projects funded by innovateUK and EPSRC as PI and Co-I.
She is co-founder of the Northern Robotics Network (NRN), which is an associate partner of the RAS-SIG. Its membership includes a range of leading nuclear sector organizations. She has worked seamlessly with the partners of the NRN’s industrially led Extreme Environment Cluster across a wide cross-section of industry sectors. This work has been part of the consultation discussion with EPSRC and innovate UK, which has helped inform the area of focus of the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund. She is Vice Chairman of IEEE Robotics and Automation UK & RI, Associate Editor of IEEE Transactions on Fuzzy Systems, served as Advisory board member for Chamber of commerce in France, the Asian council and the EPSRC centre for innovative manufacturing and Member of the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) Peer Review College.
Project name: KinectING FRAILTY
Medical Research Council Confidence in Concept (CiC) ROUND 4 2016: Full application, £ 91,021
Start date: 01/01/2017
Project name: MIHome
Salford Royal Trust and SallixHome
Capital funding scheme, £ 352,586
Start date: 01/10/2016
Project name: Marie Curie-Fellow
EC (Framework), £70.000
Principal Investigator: S Nefti-Meziani
Start date: 06/2017
Project name: Robotics and Autonomous systems “In Touch”
In Touch Ltd, £60,000.00.
Principal Investigator: S Nefti-Meziani (100%).
Start date: 08/2016
Project name: Autonomous Swarm-Based Mission Planning and Management System
Minister of Defence, £36,916.00.
Principal Investigator: S Nefti-Meziani (100%).
Start date: 02/2016
Project name: EPSRC Centre for Innovative Manufacturing in Intelligent Automation - Feasibility Study
Principal Investigator: S Nefti-Meziani (50%). Co-Investigator: S Davis (50%).
Start date: 05/2015
Project name: KTP with HellermannTyton Ltd
Technology Strategy Board, £152,176.00.
Principal Investigator: S Nefti-Meziani (50%). Co-Investigator: S Davis (50%).
Start date: 05/2014
Project name: Sustainable Manufacturing through Robotics Training in Europe (SMART-E)
EC (Framework), €4M.
Principal Investigator: S Nefti-Meziani (83%). Co-Investigators: S Davis (10%), P Scarf (7%).
Start date: 10/2013
Project name: GAMMA: Growing Autonomous System Mission Management Applications (£9M)
Regional Growth Fund, £312,137.00.
Principal Investigator: S Nefti-Meziani
Start date: 01/2012
Project name: The Aerospace Supply Chain Excellence (ASCE) 2 Programme ( £16M)
Principal Investigator: S Nefti-Meziani
Start date: 06/2012
Project name: Challenging established rules for train control through a fault tolerance approach
Principal Investigator: T Mei (66%). Co-Investigator: S Nefti-Meziani (34%).
Start date: 02/2010
Project name: ASTRAEA T7
BAE Systems, £20,000.00.
Investigator: S Nefti-Meziani (100%).
Start date: 08/2008
Project name: NovelQ - Novel processing methods for the production and distribution of high quality and safe foods
Investigators: S Nefti-Meziani (35%), J Gray (50%), D Caldwell (15%).
Start date: 03/2008
Project name: Academic Fellowship 2004 (Virtual Environments and Future Workspaces Research Centres)
Investigator: S Nefti-Meziani (100%).
Start date: 06/2007
Project name: The portal for projects and communities in the virtual organisation domain (VE-Forum)
EC (Framework), £136,106.00.
Investigators: S Nefti-Meziani (30%), G Cooper (30%), Y Rezgui (40%).
Start date: 01/2005
David Roberts is a Professor of Telepresence at the University of Salford. He has a joint appoint across the schools of Health Science and Computer Science and Engineering. The reason for this joint appointment is to bring together research in both schools within a focus of Virtual Reality and Mental Health. David has above 100 academic publications, mostly in the area of shared simulation, primarily where sharing takes place across a distance. His current research focusses on non-verbal communication with virtual characters and avatars in mental health applications. His previous research has been closing the gap between Non-verbal communication (NVC) in the real and virtual world for 20 years. His potential relevance to robotics is in contributing to development and understanding of non-verbal interactions between humans and robots.
His work has contributed to an understanding of the technological conditions necessary for virtual reality collaborations to be effective. What differentiates David’s work is the emphasis on faithfully communicating as many non-verbal resources as possible. For example, he has developed novel VR displays and mediums that together allow faithful communication of attention and appearance while people move around the tele-shared simulations. These simulations allow two or more people who are not co-located to physically walk around a shared artefact or within a shared room, exchanging glances and seeing what the other is looking at, and what their body language and facial expression give away, importantly all without invading personal space. David is joint PI on the current EU project CROSSDRIVE, which uses his technology to allow scientists, engineers and operators to stand together on a ‘virtual Mars’, to decide where the Rover should land and go. He led the EPSRC-funded multi-partner project ‘Eyecatching’, which developed support for mutual gaze between distal moving people. This system was extended by his EPSRC-sponsored PhD students through incorporation of 3D video-based avatars, technology which underpins CROSSDRIVE. David was General or Program Chair of IEEE/ACM Distributed Simulation and Real Time applications for 6 consecutive years up to 2011. He has also been Co-program chair of ICAT/EGG. He regularly reviews for research councils including EPSRC, ESRC. His recent frequent journal reviewing includes IEEE TVGC.
Dr Steve Davis graduated from the University of Salford with a degree in Robotic and Electronic Engineering in 1998 and an MSc in Advanced Robotics in 2000. He then became a Research Fellow gaining his PhD in 2005 before moving to the Italian Institute of Technology in 2008 as a Team Leader. He returned to Salford in 2012 as a Lecturer in Lecturer in Manufacturing Automation and Robotics. His research interests include actuators, biologically inspired systems, biomimetics, ‘soft’ robotics, humanoid robots, end-effectors and dexterous hands and industrial automation. He has published extensively with more than 40 publications, many in high impact factor journals. He has also co-authored chapters in two books on automation and has one patent. He has been associate editor at several IEEE conferences and is Guest Editor of a special edition of the journal Actuators. He has experience of attracting research funding, most notably the €3,948,470 Marie Curie Initial Training Networks (ITN) SMART-E (Sustainable Manufacturing through Advanced Robotics Training in Europe).
Theo Theodoridis received the B.E. degree in automation engineering from the Technological Educational Institute of Piraeus, Greece, the M.Sc. degree in embedded systems and robotics, and the Ph.D. degree in intelligent crime-recognition robots from the University of Essex, U.K. He worked as a full time postdoctoral senior research officer (EPSRC grant), at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), focusing on multimodal human-robot interfaces and visual guidance as well as pattern recognition control methods.
Currently he is working as a lecturer in robotics and embedded systems in the school of CSE at Salford University. He is a reviewer and author of several leading learning journals in the field. His research interests include AI robotics related to evolutionary algorithms, quantum computation, computer vision, fuzzy and probabilistic reasoning, behaviour-based and intelligent control, and AI gaming.
Thurai Rahulan graduated with First Class Honours in Mechanical Engineering Science in 1979 and obtained his PhD in Active Vibration Control in 1984 from Salford University. His first job involved the implementation of new technologies on various aircraft on projects funded by the British Ministry of Defence which in turn led to a few years working in industry on intelligent road vehicle suspension systems at Jaguar Cars Limited in Coventry. He returned to Salford University in 1990 and is currently a Senior Lecturer in aeroelasticity, flight dynamics and aircraft design.
Dr Rahulan has published & refereed many scientific papers and has delivered a number of lectures organised by learned societies for the benefit of the public. On top of his day job, he is serving a second term on the Council of the Royal Aeronautical Society and a third term as the Chairman of the Association of Aerospace Universities in addition to liaising with industry and the media on aerospace matters.
Dr Murano holds a PhD in Computer Science and is an interaction and usability specialist. He conducts leading edge research in this area and also supervises PhD students in this area. Dr Murano is also the current Postgraduate Research Studies Coordinator where he is responsible for about 100 PhD students in the school of CSE. Dr Murano is also a Chartered Engineer.
Dr Murano is a reviewer for various prestigious journals related to interactive systems. He also has experience as an invited research speaker to various universities in the UK and overseas. Dr Murano is also an active member of funding bidding teams either as PI or CI. Dr Murano has managed various projects concerning the usability of touch-based user interfaces, the design and evaluation of interface navigation types, the design and evaluation of user interface menu types and investigating anthropomorphic characters in the context of learning.
His research interests include Interaction Design and Usability of robotic and manufacturing artefacts/devices, Human Computer Interaction/Usability Engineering, Multimodal user interfaces, Intelligent interactive systems, Evaluation methods, User interface feedback, Novel User Interfaces – Design/Development, Software Agents, Virtual Reality and Virtual Environments and User interface design notations.
Norman's main research interests are in creating and using virtual environments for task management, building construction, engineering maintenance and 3D query languages.
Dr Murray’s research career has always been in the field of virtual environments. At Salford his research has been focused in the development of interactive virtual environments within the construction and engineering domains. This research begun with the development of a geometric constraint detection and management system, that was initially used in a construction project. This was developed alongside a toolkit for developing interactive virtual environments to create an environment for building construction design and review for the FutureHome project.
This work was extended and applied to the engineering domain with the development of more advanced interactive, immersive interfaces and with the extension of the system for maintenance analysis and the automatic creation of disassembly sequences of engineering models. Recently Dr Murray has been investigating eye gaze within collaborative virtual environments.
Ian Drumm’s research interests centre on acoustic prediction, aural rendering for VR and the soundscape evaluation. Ian Drumm supervised the in house development Salford University’s 256 loudspeaker wave field systems and developed the associated applications programming interfaces. These sound systems are an integral part of the Salford’s Centre for Virtual Environments VR systems. He was also the principal investigator for the EPSRC funded projects ‘IMPRINtS- Internet and Mobile technologies for a Public Role In Noise Surveying’ and the Aeolus Project to promote acoustics through art. As co-investigator for the 9M Euro Fascinate project, he was involved in the development of format agnostic technologies for immersive interactive broadcast.
Ian Drumm initially worked as a software engineer in industry gaining considerable experience in applications development. In 1997 he gained a PhD in acoustics from the University of Salford specialising in the computer based modelling of room acoustics. Later work in room acoustic prediction includes the development of 3D FDTD application software for the importing and prediction of hall data using the novel application of voxelisation and optimisation based filter design techniques. Recent work also includes the development of a hybridised FDTD/FE technique. Ian Drumm’s research has been published in the Journal of Acoustics Society of America, Acta Acustica, Public Understanding of Science Journal and numerous conference proceedings.
Ian Drumm is currently a lecturer for BSc and MSc computing and acoustics related programmes in the School of Computing, Science and Engineering at the University of Salford.
Adham Atyabi received his BSc in Computer-Engineering from Azad University of Mashhad-Iran in 2002. His BSc thesis title was “Imitating human speech”. He received his MSc by research from the faculty of Computer Science and Information Technology at Multimedia University of Malaysia in 2009. His MSc thesis title was “Navigating agents in uncertain environment using Particle Swarm Optimization”. He recently received his PhD from Flinders University of South Australia.
His PhD thesis title was “Evolutionary Optimization of Brain Computer Interfaces: Doing More with Less”. In the course of his PhD study he was PhD Student representative of Flinders at Australian Computer Society (ACS) in 2010–2011 and University Relation Manager of Young IT SA in 2011. He was also a member of MAGICIAN team (one of the top 5 teams in the world in the MAGIC2010 competition) in Flinders University in 2009–2010. Currently, he is a Research Assistant working under Prof Samia Nefti-Meziani’s supervision on GAMMA PROGRAMME at Salford University. His research interests include Swarm and Cognitive Robotics, Brain Computer Interfacing, Knowledge Transfer, Machine Learning, and Evolutionary Optimization.
John is currently working toward a PhD in "Attention in Telepresence" while working as Research Facilities Manager developing the full potential of the octave 14 channel immersive VR platform and the 40 megapixel multi-modal research platform in MediaCityUK. His specialities include:
As Research Facilities Manager based at the University of Salford's MediaCityUK campus, John is responsible for ongoing development, technology transfer, and PhD investigation on, the University's multi modal research platforms on the MediaCityUK and main Peel Park campuses.
Current work includes upgrading the Octave research platform, and design and procurement for the world-class Egg system at MediaCityUK, a hybrid research facility and front of house presentation and interaction suite.
Past roles have included ThinkLab Technical Director and Virtual Reality training consultant.
Professor Terrence Fernando is the Director of the THINKlab at the University of Salford. THINKlab combines both physical and virtual spaces to provide and innovative collaborative workspaces for innovation. Professor Fernando has a broad background in conducting multi-disciplinary research programmes involving large number of research teams in areas such as distributed virtual engineering, virtual building construction, driving simulations, virtual prototyping, urban simulation, and maintenance simulation. During 2001 and 2004, he led a regional research centre on advanced virtual prototyping, involving the Universities of Salford, Manchester and Lancaster. This EPSRC/OST funded project brought together the key research teams in the region to develop visualisation and simulation technologies for product design. Furthermore as a part of the EU funded Future Workspaces roadmap project and the MOSAIC project, Prof. Fernando brought together over 100 companies and research centres from areas such as aerospace, automotive, building construction, multi-modal interfaces, system architecture, networking, human factors to define a 10 year European vision for future collaborative engineering workspaces and mobile workspaces.
Prof. Fernando was the technical Director for the EU funded CoSpaces project (12Meuro) leading the scientific workpackages and collaboration between the scientific teams and the industrialists. He was also a core member of the INTUITION Network of Excellence project involving over 50 research centres across Europe to develop coordinated research activities on VR. This work resulted in an European Association for Virtual Reality for promoting advanced VR research in Europe. Further funding has recently been received from EU through VisonAir project to strengthen the VR infrastructure and research within Europe involving over 25 key VR centres across Europe. As a part of the EPSRC funded Vivacity project, he led the development of a collaborative urban planning environment in collaboration with the Black Country Consortium and Ordnance Survey. This work is now being further developed to support regeneration projects within Salford, involving a range of stakeholders including City Council, Police, PCT, and Environment Agency. Prof. Fernando also led the Virtual Futures theme within the EPSRC funded FIRM project which resulted in creating a range of new media platforms for media professionals and citizens.
He worked with the Greater Manchester Resilience Forum and their agencies to define a Disaster Preparedness platform. He is now playing an active role within three EU projects (Design4Energy, PROSECO and CROSS DRIVE) which is focusing on developing collaboration platform in the area of producing greener products and space exploration
Richard is Professor of Clinical Gait Analysis. He is a Chartered Engineer with a PhD in Biomechanics. He spent 20 years working in hospitals in the UK and Australia developing and delivering clinical gait analysis services before taking up his current post. Clinical gait analysis uses optoelectronic tracking systems, a range of force transducers and sensors capable of detecting electrical activity in muscles to measure how a patient is walking. The measurements are used to help support surgeons and other health professionals make decisions about how patients should be treated either directly or after some form of biomechanical modelling.
Richard is acknowledged internationally as one of the leaders of this field and is the author of the most recent text book. He has a particular interest in amputee gait and prosthesis design and also in the development of robotic walking frames to aid rehabilitation of stroke survivors. He has published 94 articles in peer-review articles and has a history of 4.8 million pounds in research income generation. He writes a blog which has attracted over 100,000 views and maintains an academic YouTube channel with 20,000 views.
Sunil Vadera is a Professor of Computer Science and the Dean of the School of Computing, Science and Engineering at the University of Salford. He holds a PhD in Computer Science from the University of Manchester, is a Fellow of the British Computer Society, a Chartered Engineer (C.Eng) and Chartered IT Professional (CITP). Sunil was awarded the BDO best Indian Scientist and Engineer in the UK in 2014. He has led a number of projects in applying data mining and machine learning for problems in Energy, Health & Safety, Finance, and Policy over the last decade, including:
He is currently involved in two Knowledge Transfer Partnerships: one with the Knowledge Exchange division of IDOX that is exploring the use of Big Data Analytics for Policy and a second with the CarFinance247 which aims to use data mining to reduce the cost of loans.
Sunil was Chair of the UK BCS Knowledge Discovery and Data Mining Symposium held in Salford in 2009, General Chair of numerous conferences including: the IFIP conference on Intelligent Information Processing in 2010, 2012, 2014 2016; European Conference on Intelligent Management Systems in Operations 2005, 2009; International Conference on Information Management and Engineering in 2014, 2015,2016. He was organising Chair of a workshop on Cost sensitive learning at the IEEE International Conference on Data Mining in 2012.
His research has been published in some of the leading outlets in computing, including the Computer Journal, ACM Transactions on Knowledge Discovery from Data, ACM Computing Surveys, Information and Software Technology Journal, Formal Aspects of Computing, Software Engineering Journal, Expert Systems Journal, Foundations of Science, and IEEE Transactions of Power Systems.
Oliviu Sugar-Gabor joined the University of Salford in 2016 as a Lecturer in Aerodynamics at the School of Computing, Science and Engineering. He recently obtained a PhD in Aernonautical Engineering from the Ecole de Technologie Superieure, University of Quebec, in Montreal, Canada, specializing in computational aerodynamic methods for aircraft wing optimizations. His research interests include computational aerodynamics and fluid dynamics, geometry parameterization, non-linear optimization, adaptable systems for flow control. He has authored 12 papers that have been published or accepted for publication in international-level journals such as The Aeronautical Journal or IMechE Journal of Aerospace Engineering.
Prof Trevor Cox is Professor of Acoustic Engineering, a past President of the Institute of Acoustics (IOA) and was awarded the IOA’s Tyndall Medal in 2004. He has been an investigator on 25 EPSRC projects on room acoustics, blind signal processing, perception and public engagement. These include EP/J013013/1, which was about the perception and automatic detection of audio recording errors and used a mixture of perceptual testing and blind signal processing methods. Cox leads the qualitative and quantitative perceptual work on EP/L000539/1, a programme grant about spatial audio. He is investigator on EP/N014111/1 a big data project investigating perception and machine learning with everyday sounds. He was an EPSRC Senior Media Fellow and has presented more than 20 science documentaries on BBC Radio, authored articles for The Guardian, New Scientist and Sound on Sound. His popular science book Sonic Wonderland was published in 2014 and has been translated into 6 languages.
Dr Wei graduated from Fuzhou University in China obtaining a first class honours degree in Mechatronics in 2002 and outstanding MSc degree in Mechanical Engineering in 2005. He was appointed Lecturer in Mechanical Engineering in 2005 and joined King’s College London in 2007 pursuing his PhD in the area of Computational Kinematics, Mechanisms and Robotics. He received his PhD degree in Robotics in 2012 from King’s College London where he was appointed Research Assistant in 2009 and then Research Associate in 2012. He joined the University of Salford in 2015 as a Lecturer in Mechanical Engineering.
As team leader and co-coordinator, Dr Wei has completed 2 EPSRC projects, 3 EC FP7 projects and 2 ICUK projects in the theoretical investigation and prototype development of robotics with applications to the fields of packaging, meat processing and human-robot interaction. He published over 70 peer-reviewed papers in the fields of Mechanisms, Robotics and Bio-Robotics, was awarded seven patents. He received several academic awards including the C.M. Ho Best Paper in Biomimetics—Finalist, the 2011 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Biomimetics.
S. Davis, D.G. Caldwell, “Handling Device” WO 2007052018, 10 May 2007.
We attract students from all walks of life and this helps to create a vibrant and dynamic postgraduate research environment.
Research degrees offer you the flexibility to carry out your own research project under direct supervision of an academic member of staff. You can study towards a Master of Philosophy (MPhil), Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Professional Doctorate (DProf) or MSc by Research.
Our students have access to a wide range of supervisory expertise, training and excellent facilities. The research training you receive will be tailored to your particular needs, which your supervisory team will discuss with you as soon as possible after you arrive.
Our current students undertake research across a variety of topic areas from Actuators, Biomimetics/biologically inspired robotics, Soft robotics, End effectors and dexterous hands, Automation for the food industry, Physical human robot interaction (pHRI), and Rehabilitation robotics.
If you are interested in applying for the doctoral programme, first of all contact the relevant Research Group Lead to discuss your proposed research topic and to identify a Supervisor. You would also need to prepare a Research Proposal (approximately 1500 words) before you apply online.
For more information, please contact:
Catriona Nardone (Research Support Officer)
0161 295 3482
Dr Adil Al-Yasiri (Director of Postgraduate Research Studies)
0161 295 6399