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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/S003797/1
Title: MOLE
Principal Investigator: FUENTES, Dr R
Other Investigators:
Boyle, Dr JH
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
BT Kier Services University of Birmingham
University of Sydney
Department: Civil Engineering
Organisation: University of Leeds
Scheme: EPSRC Fellowship
Starts: 01 February 2019 Ends: 31 January 2024 Value (£): 1,247,855
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Ground Engineering Robotics & Autonomy
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Construction
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
03 Sep 2018 Eng Fellowship Interviews Sept 2018 Announced
13 Jun 2018 Engineering Prioritisation Panel Meeting 13 and 14 June 2018 Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
This Fellowship vision is to develop the fundamental science that will bring a step-change in the design and development of burrowing robotics that are in perfect synchrony and harmony with the surrounding ground. This will enable much more efficient burrowing robots, and will allow:

(1) improving exponentially autonomy through precision sensing of the robot-ground interaction, combined, for the first time, with modelling that provides full sensor feedback to allow for effective control and operation of the robot in response to ground conditions;

(2) quantifying the effects of robots on the ground and other structures within it to minimise disruption;

(3) develop the first autonomous robot capable of burrowing autonomously distances of tens of metres.

The potential applications are numerous and all transformational in their respective fields. Imagine applications such as sensor deployment (e.g. radiation sensors, porewater pressures), ground characterisation, space exploration, agriculture (e.g. ground conditioning and fertilisation) or mine and disaster rescue, to name but a few, and the impact automation would have.

As a demonstrator, MOLE will focus on fibre optic cable laying as it offers a step change on current capabilities with transformative impact like, minimising disruption to the public (streetworks currently cost £4.7Bn per year to the UK economy), reducing the times for installation (i.e. providing better internet access to many faster), and cost reductions (hundreds of millions potentially - BT is heavily supporting this with a strong letter of support). However, besides the focus on this application, all the fundamental work carried out in MOLE is necessary to achieve all of the above applications.
Key Findings
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Potential use in non-academic contexts
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Impacts
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Summary
Date Materialised
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Project URL:  
Further Information:  
Organisation Website: http://www.leeds.ac.uk