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Anti-microbial poles for public transport to be made in light of Covid-19 pandemic

Anti-microbial poles for public transport to be made in light of Covid-19 pandemicSince the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic many people have been, or may feel, hesitant about taking public transport, due to the perceived risk of picking up germs from areas such as the grab-poles on trains, buses and trams, which are the principal point of contact.

However, a team including researchers from WMG at the University of Warwick, product designers Transport Design International (TDI), anti-microbial additive developers BioCote and Promethean Particles and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), led by Derby based manufacturers Composites Braiding Ltd (CBL), will produce lightweight composite grab-poles with an embedded anti-microbial property in their project AMICABLE, thanks to a £480,000 award from the Innovate UK Smart Grant scheme.

The anti-microbial grab poles will be for use in a wide range of public transport applications, such as bus, tram, rail and underground. This should lead to a step-change in hygiene in public transportation and a reduction in transmission of infections of various origins.

Although researchers are currently focusing on public transport applications, there could be the potential for the materials to be used on cruise ships, medical furniture or wherever there are public-facing surfaces.

The teams, from WMG, CBL and TDI have previously worked together on making the materials for the Coventry Very-Light Rail system, and using their expertise from previous projects and concepts already developed for anti-microbial efficacy in sectors such as food packaging and healthcare, they hope to make the new grab-poles within the next 12 months. At the project completion there is an opportunity to demonstrate, for the first time, the new grab-poles directly within new prototype vehicles such as Revolution VLR and the Coventry Light Rail system.

The poles themselves will be retro-fittable, so not only can they be fitted into new vehicles, they can replace current steel poles in existing ones such as buses and the Underground. The project aims to make a range of poles at costs competitive to the current steel ones, however, due to their light-weight material they will be around a third of the weight and will also help with meeting decarbonisation goals by aiding fuel efficiency and manufacturing via lower carbon methods.

Dr Darren Hughes, from WMG, University of Warwick comments:
“As we work in developing future public transport solutions such as the Coventry Very-Light Rail system, the Covid-19 pandemic opened our eyes to the importance of also making transport as clean an environment as possible for passengers. It is clear that a key point of contact for passengers is the grab-poles and other similar structures. Therefore, incorporating anti-microbial grab poles into vehicles could encourage more people to opt for public transport which is generally an environmentally efficient mode of transport.”

James Taylor, from TDI comments:
“TDI specialises in the design of very light weight vehicles and products so the introduction on this new anti-microbial technology in thermoplastic composites for compliant new vehicle interior products is an extremely exciting opportunity”

Steve Barbour, of Derby-based specialists in thermoplastic braiding CBL adds:
“Using in-mould coating impregnation and fibre commingling techniques, anti-microbial particles will be incorporated into the composite rails during the moulding process. Importantly, as the anti-microbial material will be applied during manufacture, it becomes a permanent part of the structure and therefore is expected to be less susceptible to wear. However, when it does reach the end of its life the thermoplastic matrix material will be inherently recyclable, making the grab-poles environmentally friendly.”

ENDS

13 JANUARY 2021

NOTES TO EDITORS

For further information please contact:

Alice Scott
Media Relations Manager – Science
University of Warwick
Tel: +44 (0) 7920 531 221
E-mail: alice.j.scott@warwick.ac.uk

 

Wed 13 Jan 2021, 15:01 | Tags: Materials and Manufacturing Partnerships Research

WMG working with Stratford Upon Avon Town Council on new research into sustainable transport

WMG, at the University of Warwick, is working with TravelSpirit Foundation on a government funded project which will focus on how new technologies could help create sustainable transport systems in Stratford upon Avon, Warwickshire.

Project Damascus is supported by Stratford Climate Action and Stratford upon Avon Town Council and has received funding from the Government’s Geospatial Commission. The first stage of the research, is a 3-month desktop study in Stratford upon Avon and Canterbury. The project is looking to shed light on how consolidating parcel journeys using mobility hubs could create a more pleasant experience for visitors and residents of Stratford upon Avon.

Professor Jan GodsellJanet Godsell, Professor of Operations and Supply Chain Strategy at WMG, University of Warwick is providing expert advice to the project. She said “This is an important piece of research. It has strong alignment with the government’s Green Industrial Revolution strategy and could have a widespread positive impact on many UK towns outside the larger metropolitan cities.”

Project Damascus is led by Simon Herko, President of the Travelspirit Foundation, working in consortium with Iconic Blockchain, Peera and WMG, University of Warwick and was awarded funding through a competition delivered by Innovate UK.

The research team is interested to hear from people who already shop online, local courier drivers and retailers who sell to customers online. For more information, including opportunities to get directly involved in the research, please contact:

TravelSpirit Foundation, Simon Herko simon.herko@travelspirit.io 

Stratford Climate Action: Stephen Norrie stratfordclimate@tutanota.com

Stratford Town Council: Jenny Fradgley Jenny.Fradgley@stratford-tc.gov.uk

Fri 08 Jan 2021, 07:06 | Tags: Supply Chains Partnerships Research

Restarting the aluminium industry in the Black Country

The Black Country in Birmingham was the energy and innovation stomping ground in the 18th and 19th century, creating the UK’s industrial economy. Fast forward to the 21st century there is now a need to make a business model that’s more economically and environmentally sustainable.

With the help of WMG, University of Warwick, the Black Country LEP have made a future business model for Aluminium in the Black Country based on the The Phoenix 10 Siteprovision of low carbon energy sources, as part of a project Repowering the Black Country, which aims to make the Black Country the world’s first zero carbon industrial cluster.

The aim of the project is to enable clean GVA growth of £16bn by 2030, creating or safeguarding at least 20,000 skilled jobs. Thanks to funding from Innovate UK researchers from WMG specifically looked at the Aluminium Industry in the area.

The researchers report that if the Black Country Strategic Economic Plan forecasts GVA growth of £16bn by 2030. The growth will be driven by reshoring of manufacturing from overseas and organic growth, particularly in high value manufacturing, building, transport and environmental technology sectors where the Black Country has long-standing strengths.

However, if this growth simply follows the structural templates and energy practices of the past, annual CO2 emissions from Black Country industry will almost double to 2.3M tCO2.

To deliver green growth and meet UK industrial strategy objectives researchers from WMG propose that the Black Country needs to take the opportunities created by Brexit and Recovery from Covid-19 to reconfigure and repower its industrial base and create a fundamentally new economic model for the area.

Professor Jan Godsell, from WMG, University of Warwick explains:

“This has been an exciting project for WMG to get involved in. By using circular supply chain principles, we’ve been able to demonstrate how re-industrialising around low carbon energy hubs in the West Midlands can help meet our net-zero carbon goal by 2050 but also create value-adding jobs for the region.”

Since the project has completed The Black Country Consortium has been awarded funding from UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) to support clean industrial growth through the Repowering the Black Country Project. This second round of funding, focused on helping the UK achieve net zero emissions as part of Government’s Clean Growth Strategy, will support businesses and local authorities in developing plans for zero carbon hubs and reducing energy costs across the Black Country.

Funded by UK Research and Innovation, on behalf of the UK government, Repowering the Black Country is one of only 7 projects funded nationally focused on helping the UK achieve net zero emissions by 2050 as part of the Industrial Decarbonisation Challenge. This is a key component of the government’s Clean Growth Strategy.

Tom Westley DL, Chair of the Black Country LEP Board said:
“This funding is another step toward the Black Country putting in place plans to decarbonise our industrial supply chains and lead the way nationally for industrial clean energy. The Repowering the Black Country project is a real partnership approach to planning for the future of our world-class industrial sector.

“This boost will enable the team to work across the Black Country with local authorities and industry to develop zero carbon industrial estates that optimise and generate clean energy in the most efficient way. Zero carbon means lower energy bills, lower carbon emissions and commercial opportunities locally – all of which will be good news for the Black Country economy.”

Energy Minister Kwasi Kwarteng said:
“The UK is leading the world’s green industrial revolution, with ambitious targets to decarbonise our economy and create hundreds of thousands of jobs.

“As we continue to level up the UK economy and build back greener, we must ensure every sector is reducing carbon emissions to help us achieve our commitment to net zero emissions by 2050.
“This funding will help key industrial areas meet the challenge of contributing to our cleaner future while maintaining their productive and competitive strengths.”

Andy Street, the Mayor of the West Midlands, said:

“Our region’s plan for economic recovery is all about delivering the high-paid, high skilled, ‘green’ jobs of the future. So this funding partnership is both good news for West Midlands jobs and industry, helping businesses grow while using less energy. So it’s great news for our environment.

“The West Midlands Combined Authority has an ambitious #WM2041 plan for the region to be carbon neutral by 2041. This Government funding for clean industrial development in the Black Country will help our region build on its long history of manufacturing, building a green economy that’s good for jobs and good for the planet.”

ENDS

7 JANUARY 2021

NOTES TO EDITORS

Images available at:
https://warwick.ac.uk/services/communications/medialibrary/images/january_2021/repowering_jpeg.jpg
Caption: The Phoenix 10 site in the Black Country

Report available to view at: https://www.blackcountrylep.co.uk/upload/files/Repowering%20the%20Black%20Country%20A%20prospectus%20to%20lead%20a%20clean%20growth%20revolution%20in%20the%20UK.pdf

For further information please contact:

Alice Scott
Media Relations Manager – Science
University of Warwick
Tel: +44 (0) 7920 531 221
E-mail: alice.j.scott@warwick.ac.uk

 

Thu 07 Jan 2021, 13:57 | Tags: Supply Chains Partnerships Research

Revolutionising the manufacturing industry through digitalisation

Until now, smaller manufacturing companies have missed out on the productivity benefits of digital technologies and data-driven solutions. Too many manufacturers don’t know where to start, and lack the skills required to deploy and use digital solutions. The costs are perceived to be high and the return on investment is unclear.

A consortium, including WMG at the University of Warwick, has been awarded funding through the Government’s Manufacturing Made Smarter Challenge to tackle this problem by developing a Smart InforMation PLatform and Ecosystem for Manufacturing (SIMPLE).

Project SIMPLE will bring the benefits of digitalisation to manufacturers for whom the technology, skills, and business benefits are currently inaccessible. The project will deliver a platform that is fast to deploy, easy to use, cost-effective, and versatile. And it will be supported by an ecosystem that addresses skills and training requirements.

The consortium includes a wide range of end-user, academic, and technology partners to provide the necessary breadth of expertise:

Innovare Systems (construction) is representative of SMEs seeking to improve their operations through the deployment of digital capabilities, but have a low skill level in the domain, bare bones IT capabilities and low levels of automation

Lear Corporation (automotive) is representative of global organisations challenged by their operational complexity, the diversity of technologies deployed in production, fragmented software landscape and data repositories

The UK Battery Industrialisation Centre is seeking a vendor independent solution that can support their short-term objectives and scale up rapidly to support multiple production campaigns in the future

WMG, University of Warwick is a world leading research and education group, transforming organisations and driving innovation through a unique combination of collaborative research and development, and pioneering education programmes

The Science and Technology Facilities Council is a government agency that carries out research in science and engineering. The focus for project SIMPLE is on knowledge representations and knowledge models relevant to manufacturing

Fully Distributed Systems (FDS), AI Idea Factory and 4thWall Virtual develop engineering tools, industrial software components and supply related services.

The benefits of SIMPLE will be validated via deployment of the platform at the end-user partners’ facilities - demonstrating the value in three different use cases. The deployment of a skills training system at WMG, University of Warwick, will validate the skills and training proposition.

Project SIMPLE is co-funded by the businesses in the consortium and the UK’s innovation agency, Innovate UK, through the Manufacturing Made Smarter Competition. The Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF) Manufacturing Made Smarter Round 1 Competition offers grant funding investment in projects that focus on the use of industrial digital technologies (IDTs) to transform the productivity and agility of UK manufacturing. Of 34 applications submitted, project SIMPLE is one of 14 projects approved following independent assessment and expert review.

Daniel VeraDr Daniel Vera, from WMG at the University of Warwick comments:
“At WMG, we will be focussing on making sure that manufacturers become fluent in deploying and using digital systems. Our training platform will mean that manufacturers can confidently use data-driven methods and digital solutions to optimise their processes, which in turn can speed up their project delivery and significantly improve their business operations.”

Jason Powell of Innovare Systems adds:
“The technology is important as it offers greater operational transparency, which allows greater scrutiny of performance whilst maintaining the production activities’ live information. Additionally, this system can also be used as a tool to drive production efficiency through optimising performance which will increase capacity. We are expecting this technology to boost productivity by 10% even from the early deployment.”

Matt Patching of the UK Battery Industrialisation Centre said:

“The SIMPLE toolset will help us deliver battery technologies and processes to industry at a rapid rate. The flexible design will be compatible with our range of manufacturing processes, ranging from electrode and cell assembly, to module and pack, and to consistently present the relevant information. The scalable nature means that new promising technologies in the battery field can be implemented into our digital systems as quickly as it can be installed at our site.”

The project will engage the wider manufacturing community to ensure the SIMPLE platform and methodology addresses the widest set of manufacturers’ needs. For further information, please contact peter.hopkinson@fullydistributedsystems.com.

ENDS

6 JANUARY 2021

NOTES TO EDITORS

About WMG, University of Warwick

WMG is a world leading research and education group, transforming organisations and driving innovation through a unique combination of collaborative research and development, and pioneering education programmes.
As an international role model for successful partnerships between academia and the private and public sectors, WMG develops advancements nationally and globally, in applied science, technology and engineering, to deliver real impact to economic growth, society and the environment.
WMG’s education programmes focus on lifelong learning of the brightest talent, from the WMG Academies for Young Engineers, degree apprenticeships, undergraduate and postgraduate, through to professional programmes.
An academic department of the University of Warwick, and a centre for the HVM Catapult, WMG was founded by the late Professor Lord Kumar Bhattacharyya in 1980 to help reinvigorate UK manufacturing and improve competitiveness through innovation and skills development.

About Innovare Systems

As the only provider to have complete design to delivery capability in-house, Innovare Systems is uniquely placed to simplify the offsite construction process to help clients manage time, cost and risk more effectively. Innovare Systems’ aim is to make it easy for clients to achieve the time and cost saving benefits of offsite construction and make full use of the greater flexibility offered through a joined-up design, manufacture and installation solution with its i-SIP panel system.

About Lear Corporation

Lear, a global automotive technology leader in Seating and E-Systems, enables superior in-vehicle experiences for consumers around the world. Lear’s diverse team of talented employees in 39 countries is driven by a commitment to innovation, operational excellence, and sustainability. Lear is Making every drive better™ by providing the technology for safer, smarter, and more comfortable journeys.

About UKBIC

The £130 million UK Battery Industrialisation Centre (UKBIC) is a pioneering concept in the race to develop battery technology for the transition to a greener future. The unique facility provides the missing link between battery technology, which has proved promising at laboratory or prototype scale, and successful mass production. Based in Coventry, the publicly-funded battery product development facility welcomes manufacturers, entrepreneurs, researchers and educators, and can be accessed by any organisation with existing or new battery technology – if that technology will bring green jobs and prosperity to the UK.

In addition to funding from the Faraday Battery Challenge through UK Research and Innovation and the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, UKBIC is also part-funded through the West Midlands Combined Authority. The project has been delivered through a consortium of Coventry City Council, Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership and WMG, at the University of Warwick. UKBIC was created in 2018 following a competition led by the Advanced Propulsion Centre with support from Innovate UK

About Fully Distributed Systems

FDS specialises in the development and integration of control and software solutions for manufacturing industries. In the last 5 years, FDS has developed expertise in the development and deployment of Industrial IoT integration platforms and common manufacturing and production data models, in line with the requirements of Industry 4.0 and digital manufacturing solution development.

For further information please contact

Alice Scott
Media Relations Manager – Science
University of Warwick
Tel: +44 (0) 7920 531 221
E-mail: alice.j.scott@warwick.ac.uk


Driving digitalisation

Many capital project companies have invested in digital and data capabilities, but only a few actually get the returns they expected.

Professor Naomi BrookesWMG Professor Naomi Brookes has shared her complex programme management expertise in the Data-driven Transformation of Capital Projects report compiled by leading global professional services company, Accenture.

Professor Brookes explains: “I’m delighted to have contributed to this fascinating and important report that shows a clear relationship between the effective use of digital technologies in major projects and bottom-line benefits.”

The report surveyed over 700 "owner-operators" and engineering, procurement and construction companies to see how they were driving their digitalisation.

Accenture’s report shows how a small group of companies is able to drive much higher value from digital by making specific changes to their operating environment.

Read the report in full here.

Tue 22 Dec 2020, 08:44 | Tags: Partnerships Research

Robot hands one step closer to human thanks to WMG AI algorithms

 · The Shadow Robot Dexterous Hand is comparable to a human hand, reproducing all of its degrees of freedom

· While dexterous manipulation of objects is a fundamental everyday task for humans, it is still very challenging for autonomous robotic hands to master

· Researchers at WMG, University of Warwick, have developed novel artificial intelligence algorithms so the robot can learn how to manipulate objects just like humans do

· In simulated environments, the robotic hands learn on their own how to coordinate movements and execute tasks like throwing a ball to each other and spinning a pen

Shadow Dexterous HandThe Shadow Robot Dexterous Hand is a robot hand, with size, shape and movement capabilities similar to those of a human hand. To give the robotic hand the ability to learn how to manipulate objects researchers from WMG, University of Warwick, have developed new AI algorithms.

Robot hands can be used in many applications, such as manufacturing, surgery and dangerous activities like nuclear decommissioning. For instance, robotic hands can be very useful in computer assembly where assembling microchips requires a level of precision that only human hands can currently achieve. Thanks to the utilization of robot hands in assembly lines, higher productivity may be achieved whilst securing reduced exposure from work risk situations to human workers.

In the paper, ‘Solving Challenging Dexterous Manipulation Tasks With Trajectory Optimisation and Reinforcement Learning’, researchers Professor Giovanni Montana and Dr Henry Charlesworth from WMG, University of Warwick have developed new AI algorithms – or the “brain” - required to learn how to coordinate the fingers’ movements and enable manipulation.

Using physically realistic simulations of Shadow’s robotic hand, the researchers have been able to make two hands pass and throw objects to each other, as well as spin a pen between its fingers. The algorithms however are not limited to these tasks but can learn any task as long as it can be simulated. The 3D simulations were developed using MuJoCo (Multi-Joint Dynamics with Contact), a physics engine from the University of Washington.

The researchers’ approach uses two algorithms. Initially, a planning algorithm produces a few approximate examples of how the hand should be performing a particular task. These examples are then used by a reinforcement learning algorithm that masters the manipulation skills on its own. By taking this approach, the researchers have been able to produce significantly better performance compared to existing methodologies. The simulation environments have been made publicly available for any researcher to use.

Now that the algorithms have been successful in the simulations, Professor Montana’s team will continue to work closely with Shadow Robot and test the AI methodology on real robotic hardware, which could see the hand advance one step closer to use in the real day to day life. In a second paper, ‘PlanGAN: Model-based Planning With Sparse Rewards and Multiple Goals’, to be presented at the 2021 NeurIPS conference, the WMG researchers have also developed a novel and general AI approach that enables robots to learn tasks such as reaching and moving objects, which will further improve hand manipulation applications.

Professor Giovanni Montana, from WMG, University of Warwick comments: “The future of digitalisation relies on AI algorithms that can learn autonomously, and to be Shadow Dexterous Handable to develop algorithms that give Shadow Robot’s hand the ability to operate like a real one is without any human input is an exciting step forward. These autonomous hands could be used in the future to deliver robotic surgeons, to increase the productivity of assembly lines and to replace humans in dangerous jobs such as bomb disposal.”

“In future work we will let the robots perceive the environment as accurately as humans do, not only through computer vision algorithms that can see the world, but through sensors that detect temperature, force and vibrations so the robot can learn what to do when it feels those sensations.”

Rich Walker, Managing Director of the Shadow Robot Company, in London, comments:
“ When we started building dexterous hands, it was because there was no way to get hold of one without building it! 20 years later, we are now seeing researchers like Giovanni deliver the promise of the hardware by creating algorithms clever enough to control the robot hand – soon perhaps we will see super-human performance?”

ENDS

3 DECEMBER 2020

NOTES TO EDITORS

High-res images available at:

https://warwick.ac.uk/services/communications/medialibrary/images/november_2020/holding_pen.jpg
Caption: Shadow Dexterous Hand
Credit: Shadow Robot Company

https://warwick.ac.uk/services/communications/medialibrary/images/november_2020/human_hand_and__handc_crw_9344.jpg
Caption: Shadow Dexterous Hand
Credit: Shadow Robot Company

https://warwick.ac.uk/services/communications/medialibrary/images/november_2020/with_egg.jpg
Caption: Shadow Dexterous Hand
Credit: Shadow Robot Company

Video available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mUXluGnoDRk

Link to collection of simulation videos: https://dexterous-manipulation.github.io/

Link to papers:
Solving Challenging Dexterous Manipulation Tasks with Trajectory Optimisation and Reinforcement Learning
https://arxiv.org/abs/2009.05104

PlanGAN: Model-based Planning with Sparse Rewards and Multiple Goal
https://arxiv.org/abs/2006.00900

Shadow Robot Company: www.shadowrobot.com / jyoti@shadowrobot.com

For further information please contact:

Alice Scott
Media Relations Manager – Science
University of Warwick
Tel: +44 (0) 7920 531 221
E-mail: alice.j.scott@warwick.ac.uk

 

Thu 03 Dec 2020, 11:18 | Tags: Partnerships Research Data Science AI Technologies

Early construction of prototype innovative light rail vehicle for the City of Coventry

The Coventry Very Light Rail (VLR) is an innovative light rail system which will be battery powered, lightweight and rail-based.

In March 2019 a 3D simulation of the vehicle was released, and even with Covid-19 lockdowns, the vehicle build is progressing on schedule at NP Aerospace in Coventry.

The front/side view of the vehicle so farOn the 25th November Coventry City Councillor Jim O'Boyle, Coventry Cabinet Member for Jobs and Regeneration, took the opportunity to see how the construction of the prototype, developed by engineers at WMG, University of Warwick for the City of Coventry is progressing.

WMG, University of Warwick have been working with TDI (Transport Design International) to deliver the novel very light rail vehicle, which as demonstrated in the photos is swiftly reaching completion with the driver’s desk and other sub systems now in place. The vehicle is expected to be finished in February 2021 ready for testing at the new rail innovation centre in Dudley.

Dr James Meredith, from WMG at the University of Warwick comments:
“WMG are delighted that the vehicle build is running on plan in spite of Covid-19. The project is an excellent showcase for UK engineering and manufacturing with over 70 % UK content. We look forward to testing the vehicle in 2021 alongside the innovative low cost trackform we are developing in parallel.”

Exterior side view of the vehicle so farCllr Jim O’Boyle, Coventry Cabinet Member for Jobs and Regeneration, said:

“It is very exciting to see the VLR prototype take shape and for the project to take another big step towards becoming a reality.

“VLR will make a massive difference to our city, revolutionising travel and helping the environment. It will help keep our city at the forefront of the new transport industry and help us to attract new firms and jobs to take the city forward. It also helps cement our position at the centre of the green revolution with work such as UK Battery Innovation Centre.

“There has been some amazing work by all the project partners in some very difficult times and I can’t wait to see the next stages and watch it come out of the design rooms and on to our city’s streets.”

Darren Smith, Head of TDI comments:From left to right: Cllr Jim O’Boyle, Nicola Small – Coventry City Council, James Kempston – NPA, Dr James Meredith – WMG, Darren Smith – TDI Credit: Mark Radford Photography
“TDI are extremely pleased with the progress to date on the project and are looking forward to delivering the vehicle to our client in early 2021, so that it can begin its testing phase at the new VLRIC in Dudley. The teams involved in the delivery process across our full supply chain have worked tremendously hard, under difficult circumstances this year and I would like to thank them all for their efforts.”

James Kempston, CEO NP Aerospace, comments:

“It’s great to see the progress that has been made on the Very Light Rail project at our facility in Coventry at a time when all businesses are feeling the pressure of the pandemic. The platform will offer significant benefits for local people and the wider economy and we are honoured to have been selected to be part of the project. The team have worked very hard to ensure a high level of build quality and we are looking forward to the final release of the vehicle early next year. It is also very encouraging to be part of a development which will have a significant environmental impact.”

 ENDS

 For further information please contact:

Alice Scott
Media Relations Manager – Science
University of Warwick
Tel: +44 (0) 7920 531 221
E-mail: alice.j.scott@warwick.ac.uk

Thu 26 Nov 2020, 11:02 | Tags: Materials and Manufacturing Partnerships

WMG Assistant Professor joins Micromobility Research Fund

Roger WoodmanWMG Assistant Professor of Human Factors, Roger Woodman, has been selected to join the Micromobility Research Fund set up by the Ford-owned e-scooter firm Spin.

Roger is one of only 12 academics selected to join the panel made up of experts from ten leading UK and US universities and industry. Together they will study various safety aspects of e-scooter use as well as rider behaviour, and the challenges and opportunities of the integration within a city’s road systems and existing public transport networks.

Roger Woodman explains: "Ultimately, the point of introducing e-scooter schemes is to advance our society and to bring a greater benefit to all, not just to the e-scooter riders and the service providers but to all who live in our towns and cities. Just as with many new services, this will require ongoing reflection and review from everyone, including the general public and stakeholders and the path may not always be straightforward. I’m confident that building a strong body of independent research will allow policy makers, e-scooter advocates, as well as sceptics, to advance the dialogue and put forward legislation that best supports everyone.”

Josh Johnson, Public Policy Manager at Spin, adds: “The willingness to share independent research and learnings about the adoption of e-scooters with key stakeholders has become less of a priority for operators and this needs to change. Spin is committed to improving and advancing micromobility policy frameworks globally in the markets we operate in. These studies will give everyone fresh and actionable insights. We look forward to sharing best practices with stakeholders in the UK and beyond around how to best integrate e-scooters into local transport networks while maximising safety of all road users and provide communities with a green, fun and socially-distanced way to travel.”

Safe travel behaviour will be at the centre of research topics and will build on Spin's solid research-based policy work developed in the US over the past two years.

Josh adds: “Our top priority has always been rider safety. All operators have a responsibility to their riders to not only exceed vehicle safety standards but provide a platform to educate riders on safety best practices and how to be mindful of pedestrians and other road users.”

Preparation for the first piece of research is under way in Milton Keynes. This study will explore factors that influence road-user safety including:

● Where do e-scooter users ride most often (cycle lane, roadway, pavement) and why?

● How often do safety incidents occur, and what are common factors?

● What factors or conditions (i.e. cycling infrastructure, weather, traffic volume, etc…) impact real or perceived safety of e-scooters for users and for non-users?

The study will be informed by a diverse set of data sources including qualitative and quantitative consumer survey data and on-street AI and IoT sensor data of e-scooter interactions with pedestrians, cyclists and cars captured by Vivacity Lab’s sensors that are installed in the city. The researchers will also have access to anonymised e-scooter movement data (GPS).

Vivacity’s roadside sensors employ machine learning algorithms to detect near-miss incidents and are able to analyse movement patterns of vulnerable road-users such as cyclists and pedestrians, as well as non-connected vehicles. Such data will be invaluable to assess why near-misses may happen and what could be possibly done to minimise them. All data shared by the sensors is anonymised with video feeds discarded at source, enabling safer roads without intruding on privacy.

The research may include outputs such as a mapping of “safe routes” based on riding patterns and user feedback, and recommendations on how local authorities and operators could encourage riders towards a safer use of e-scooters. Recommendations may also include infrastructure improvements or other policy changes to enhance roadway safety for all users.

Find out more about WMG’s Human Factors research here.

 


New engineering partnership to develop digital marketplace to improve manufacturing supply chain

A research team, including WMG at the University of Warwick, led by Swansea University College of Engineering, are developing a pilot online marketplace designed to optimise manufacturing supply chain networks and create a new industry-wide business model.

This new platform will seek to better connect manufacturers and suppliers, enabling a streamlined product/process sourcing and selection service tailored to industry needs, with the support of the Institute for Innovative Materials, Processing and Numerical Technologies (IMPACT).

The project will initially focus on supporting Welsh manufacturing companies with the aim to create an innovative digital supply chain marketplace (DSCM) template that can be replicated nationally and globally. One of the first companies to trial the new platform will be Swansea-based company MyMaskFit. Their aim is to produce custom fit reusable PPE masks for use during and beyond the COVID-19 pandemic. Customers will send a scanned image of their face to the company via an app designed to record the dimensions needed to create the bespoke product.

A challenge for many companies, like MyMaskFit, is often creating a new supply chain and sourcing the many products and services required to bring regulated products to market.

Unifying shared expertise with industry experts and researchers from WMG, University of Warwick and the Manufacturing Technology Centre, this new partnership will offer companies, like MyMaskFit, access to a more open and dynamic market, with increased opportunity for UK SMEs, and by making markets more efficient and flexible, should raise productivity and open new value chains through wider reach.

Professor Jan GodsellJan Godsell, Professor of Operations and Supply Chain Strategy, WMG, University of Warwick, comments: “Major disruptions such as COVID-19 have challenged the conventional and static design of supply chains. Market places have an important role to play in connecting UK manufacturers with the emerging demand for new products and services. They support the development of new types of business models and dynamic supply chain designs, that will underpin the future of UK manufacturing. Self-assessment tools, roadmaps and blue prints will be made available through the ISCF Supply Chain Innovation Hub, so that these opportunities can be exploited by firms across the UK”.

“The challenge of existing marketplaces is that the relevance and quality of data is subjected to manual scrutiny and intervention,” comments project lead, Professor Johann Sienz, Deputy Executive Dean, Faculty of Science and Engineering and IMPACT Director. “This marketplace will be designed to provide visibility and access to supply chain processes and will deliver live validated and relevant data to make decisions. It will be valuable to the supplier through creation of ‘one supplier-to-many customers’ with the additional benefits of reducing administrating expenses, and maximises volume leverage, with less IT integration requirement.”

“This ‘Made Smarter’ testbed will act as a template for other digital supply chain marketplaces to be created to serve other sectors, geographies and verticals, for instance exclusive communities for highly regulated industries, where trust in the access, integrity, and security of information is critical.”

Driven by industry feedback, this new DSCM will offer much-needed features such as accuracy and precision for parts; pricing accuracy; reduced supplier response times from weeks to hours; and provide options with dynamic lead times and quality, cost, certainty – resulting in a quicker and more efficient supply chain process.

Valerie Bednar, MyMaskFit Director, comments: “MyMaskFit is pleased to deliver a programme to the Manufacturing Made Smarter Testbed where we hope to prove the success of sourcing in the regulated digital supply chain marketplace for components of our Reusable and Custom fitted medical grade mask.

As part of this 6-month project, a rapid scale-up of manufacturing operations is planned involving manufacturing partners – including cloud collaboration tools from design and manufacturing software company Autodesk.

Asif Moghal, Senior Industry Manager, Design and Manufacturing at Autodesk comments: “This is another great example of how the industry is coming together and rising to a new challenge. Protecting our key workers is essential and we have an opportunity to bring about new learnings from this rapid development project featuring personalised masks. We are confident this will be a transformative step for the industry, with the potential to scale globally and pass learnings onto other industries.”

The project is funded by the ISCF Manufacturing Made Smarter programme and will conclude in May 2021. Industrial partners also include Plyable, Amplyfi, AI Idea Factory, PXL ICE, Carapace, Cadarn and Industry Wales.

The IMPACT operation is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund through the Welsh Government and Swansea University.

ENDS

For further information please contact:

Alice Scott
Media Relations Manager - Science
University of Warwick
Tel: +44 (0) 7920 531 221
E-mail: alice.j.scott@warwick.ac.uk

 

Tue 24 Nov 2020, 10:23 | Tags: Supply Chains Partnerships Research

WMG academic helps identify the frameworks for the Government to enrol Autonomous Vehicles

When it comes to Autonomous Vehicles the question on everyone’s lips is when will they be on the roads? However for them to be safely deployed there must be a policy framework.

SiddarthaIn the report, ‘Safe Drive Initiative: SafeDI Scenario-Based AV Policy Framework - an overview for policymakers, published by the World Economic Forum, Dr Siddartha Khastgir from WMG, University of Warwick as part of the Technical Working Group of the Safe Drive Initiative, contributed to the technological aspects of the policy framework building on his UKRI Future Leaders Fellowship research outcomes.

In order to measure driving safely in the AV sector there are many challenges, especially how to evaluate the safety of AVs. In this report, the Forum along with industry, government and academic experts have developed guidance and tools to create a useful, practicable governance approach for safety assurance of AVs, based on how it behaves in the context of its operating environment, known as its Operational Design Domain (ODD).

The Safe Drive Initiative seeks to establish a high-level framework to enable regulators and AV developers to work collaboratively to demonstrate an AV system’s capability to operate without intervention from a driver. The initiative proposes a data-driven, scenario based assessment using a graduated approach to safety assurance. The framework’s approach is vehicle and solution-agnostic and builds upon existing national and international standards, where possible. The approach focusses on assessing AV in the context of its deployment ODD by demonstrating behaviour competence in a range of scenarios and covers using simulation, driving in controlled environments and naturalistic on-road driving for evaluation. This can then be adopted by a regulator or government entities, which are responsible for managing AV development and deployment.

The report has highlighted numerous points of testing that all bodies should follow, including:

1. Prepare - Convene necessary stakeholders to identify interim milestones as a function of the deployment ODD which can be defined using standard taxonomies e.g. BSI PAS 1883

2. Define - Specify qualitative scenarios for the interim milestones as behaviour competencies in each ODD sub-set

3. Measure – Using a scenario database (e.g. SafetyPool, UK’s National CAV Test Scenario Database), select scenarios based on ODD for simulation and corresponding success criteria

4. Execute – Conduct on-road tests and perform on going monitoring to evaluate scenario exposure to refine evaluation

The graduated approach enables defining interim milestones as a function of deployment ODD. After completing all steps of the assessment regulators should have a clear idea of which AV developers are ready to operate commercially in the deployment operational design domain. Ideally, the AV developer should demonstrate the vehicle’s capability to operate without a safety driver, but this depends on back-up on mechanisms such as minimal risk manoeuvres and remote operators to take control should they meet a rare situation it is not designed to handle, for example if an emergency vehicle is approaching.

Dr Siddartha Khastgir, from WMG, University of Warwick comments:

“Although this framework is for all regulators who want to implement an operational safety assessment within their jurisdiction, not one-size will fit all, different towns and cities all over the world will have different concerns based on their respective Operational Design Domains, and therefore each step should be customised for each community. Defining the interim milestones and qualitative scenarios as a function of deployment ODD, enables this framework to be used by wide variety of stakeholders like manufacturers, governments, local-authorities etc.

“We do however hope that this framework will help us see the safe development and deployment of CAVs, so that in the future we can see the benefits of safe, clean and inclusive mobility. WMG are already researching this in many ways, as we are leading the Midlands Future Mobility testbed, which sees autonomous vehicles being tested on real worlds, and have the facilities, such as the 3xD simulator to test AVs before they go on real world tests.”

Tim Dawkins from the World Economic Forum comments:

“By bringing together a multi-stakeholder community of industry, academia, safety organizations and regulators, we’ve developed a pro-active approach which will enables policymakers to structure a safety evaluation for AVs which reflects the challenges of their roads, and expects a common standard of safety across different types of vehicle. Partnering with research institutions like WMG is essential to building the knowledge base to empower regulators for success.”

11 NOVEMBER 2020

NOTES TO EDITORS:

High-res images available at:

- 3xD Simulator: https://warwick.ac.uk/services/communications/medialibrary/images/november_2020/3xd.jpg

- Dr Siddartha Khastgir: https://warwick.ac.uk/services/communications/medialibrary/images/november_2020/sid_42.jpg

Report available to view at: http://www3.weforum.org/docs/WEF_Safe_DI_AV_policy_framework_2020.pdf

More details about Siddartha’s UKRI Future Leadership can be seen at:

- https://warwick.ac.uk/fac/sci/wmg/research/cav/vandv/ukriflf/

- https://youtu.be/sjpL82E-JCQ

A TEDx talk by Siddartha can also be seen at: https://youtu.be/KrOOXE3SW-A

 

Wed 11 Nov 2020, 12:54 | Tags: Intelligent Vehicles Partnerships Research

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