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Robotics and autonomy

Creating humanoid robots and autonomous systems which use computer vision and AI to interact with the world.

Surrey’s Centre for Vision, Speech and Signal Processing (CVSSP) and Space Technology for Autonomous systems and Robotics (STAR LAB)  which is part of Surrey Space Centre are focused on developing novel autonomous systems which can not only see, but also learn and understand.

In CVSSP’s robotics lab academics are working on creating humanoid robots which use computer vision and AI to interact with the world. Just as human babies learn by exploring the relationship between what they perceive and their actions, machines follow a similar method of learning. Using the lab’s ‘Baxter’ robot, researchers are currently working with a major retailer to explore how the online shopping process could be optimised if robots were used in fulfilment centres to pick and bag products.

The Centre’s robot lab also houses the Surrey Autonomous Testbed, based on a Renault Twizy: a road legal, fully sensor-enabled car with autonomous control and on-board processing. This testbed is enabling researchers to design and validate a novel intelligent control platform enabling autonomous vehicles that not only drive but also think safely for themselves in complex and uncertain driving scenarios.

One of the FAIR-SPACE’s areas of specialism is developing reliable robotic rovers with visual perception, navigation and reconfigurable autonomy capabilities.

The University’s Surrey Space Centre has been at the forefront of small satellite engineering since it kick-started the industry in the 1980s, and is now playing an instrumental role in exploiting the potential of AI in this sphere. Professor Sir Martin Sweeting leads the UK’s Future AI and Robotics for Space (FAIR-SPACE) Hub, which brings together over 30 international partners to solve key challenges in space robotics and autonomous systems, including enabling the advanced on-board software required for next generation missions. One of the STAR lab’s areas of specialism is developing reliable robotic rovers with visual perception, navigation and reconfigurable autonomy capabilities. These rovers are designed not only to operate in space, but also in other extreme environments where human intervention is problematic, such as nuclear plants.

Surrey Space Centre is also capitalising on the rapid increase in the volume of data which can be captured using AI and unique access to satellite data from industry and government partners. The Centre’s Remote Sensing Applications group is developing feature extraction and change detection algorithms which are being used in remote sensor applications for disaster management, surveillance and security, and agriculture.  Examples of successful deployment include post-earthquake damage assessment, flood mapping and crop classification.

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