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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/R026092/1
Title: Future AI and Robotics Hub for Space (FAIR-SPACE)
Principal Investigator: Sweeting, Professor Sir M
Other Investigators:
Fallah, Dr S Merrifield, Dr R R Watson, Professor T
Fisher, Professor M Dixon, Professor C Dennis, Dr L
Lisitsa, Dr A Nefti-Meziani, Prof.OBE S Li, Professor Z
Burdet, Professor E Gao, Professor Y Fernando, Professor T
Yang, Professor G Vijayakumar, Professor S Maple, Professor C
Davis, Dr S
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Airbus Operations Limited BAE Systems China Aerospace Sci and Tech Corp
Chinese Academy of Science European Space Agency (UK) Intel Corporation Ltd
International Space University InTouch Health Italian Institute of Technology
KUKA Robotics UK Limited NASA NEPTEC UK Limited
Network Rail R U Robots Limited Satellite Applications Catapult
Schlumberger STFC Laboratories (Grouped) Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd (SSTL)
Thales Ltd UK Atomic Energy Authority UK Space Agency
Value Chain Lab Ltd Virtual Engineering Centre (VEC)
Department: Surrey Space Centre Academic
Organisation: University of Surrey
Scheme: Standard Research
Starts: 20 November 2017 Ends: 31 March 2022 Value (£): 8,602,141
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Artificial Intelligence Fundamentals of Computing
Human-Computer Interactions Image & Vision Computing
Robotics & Autonomy
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Aerospace, Defence and Marine Environment
Energy Information Technologies
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
18 Sep 2017 ISCF - Robotics and Artificial Intelligence Hub Full Bids Panel Meeting Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
Advances in robotics and autonomous systems are changing the way space is explored in ever more fundamental ways. Both human and scientific exploration missions are impacted by these developments. Where human exploration is concerned, robots act as proxy explorers: deploying infrastructure for human arrival, assisting human crews during in-space operations, and managing assets left behind. As humans extend their reach into space, they will increasingly rely on robots enabled by artificial intelligence to handle many support functions and repetitive tasks, allowing crews to apply themselves to problems that call for human cognition and judgment. Where scientific exploration is concerned, robotic spacecraft will continue to go out into Earth orbit and the far reaches of deep space, venturing to remote and hostile worlds, and returning valuable samples and data for scientific analysis.

The aim of FAIR-SPACE is to go beyond the-state-of-the-art in robotic sensing and perception, mobility and manipulation, on-board and on-ground autonomous capabilities, and human-robot interaction, to enable space robots to perform more complex tasks on long-duration missions with minimal dependence on ground crew. More intelligent and dexterous robots will be more self-sufficient, being able to detect and respond to anomalies on board autonomously and requiring far less teleoperation.

The research will see novel technologies being developed for robotic platforms used in orbit or on planet surfaces, namely: future on-orbit robots tasked with repairing satellites, assembling large space telescopes, manufacturing in space, removal of space junk; and future surface robots, also known as planetary rovers, for surveying, observation, extraction of resources, and deploying infrastructure for human arrival and habitation; a further case study will target human-robot interoperability aboard the International Space Station.

The research will merge the best available off-the-shelf hardware and software solutions with trail-blazing innovations and new standards and frameworks, aiming at the development of a constellation of space robotics prototypes and tools. This aims to accelerate the prototyping of autonomous systems in a scalable way, where the innovations and methodologies developed can be rapidly spun out for wide adoption in the space sector worldwide.

FAIR-SPACE directly addresses two of the priorities in the Industrial Strategy Green Paper: robotics & artificial intelligence and satellite & space technologies. The clear commitment offered by the industrial partners demonstrates the need for establishing a national asset that will help translate academic outputs into innovative products/services. Our impact plan will ensure we can maximise co-working with user organisations, align our work with other programmes (e.g. InnovateUK) and effectively transfer our research outputs and technology to other sectors beyond space such as nuclear, deep mining and offshore energy. FAIR-SPACE will therefore not only help in wealth creation but also help develop a robotics UK community with a leading international profile.
Key Findings
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Organisation Website: http://www.surrey.ac.uk