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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/X02489X/1
Title: Centre for Robotic Autonomy in Demanding and Long-lasting Environments (CRADLE)
Principal Investigator: Lennox, Professor B
Other Investigators:
Dixon, Professor C Cangelosi, Professor A Groves, Dr KK
Fisher, Professor M Dennis, Dr L Watson, Dr SA
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Jacobs UK Limited
Department: Electrical and Electronic Engineering
Organisation: University of Manchester, The
Scheme: Standard Research
Starts: 01 September 2023 Ends: 31 August 2028 Value (£): 3,682,038
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
15 Nov 2022 Prosperity Partnership Round 5 Full Proposal Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
CRADLE brings together the industrial experience that Jacobs have in applied Robotics and Autonomous Systems (RAS) with the research expertise at the University of Manchester in this field, to create a collaborative research centre that is internationally leading and sustainable in the long-term. Our vision for CRADLE is that it will deliver novel and transformational RAS technology for demanding environments, such as space, nuclear, energy generation and urban infrastructure, allowing the benefits promised by this technology to be realised across wide sectors of UK industry.

Whilst there has been significant progress made in robotic systems in recent years, the step to truly autonomous robotics and smart machines, which will deliver the greatest impact to UK industry, remains a significant barrier, particularly in complex, demanding and heavily regulated environments. Here, incorrect decisions and inappropriate actions can have significant consequences, such as the release of radioactive materials or the loss of high value equipment. We have seen that incremental extensions to RAS components have not been sufficient to surmount this autonomy barrier and believe that a step change is required to:

- create an autonomy-focussed framework that brings together the many independent robotic components that includes sensors, actuators, software and safety systems;

- address key research gaps that exist in the specific components within this framework that affect the reliability, resilience and trustworthiness of the overall autonomous system; and

- clarify, and embed, the wide range of end-user, business and regulatory constraints that must be accommodated within this framework for long-lasting autonomy.

CRADLE has been guided by future industry needs and addresses major research obstacles to RAS development. Furthermore, CRADLE will create a pathway to impact that enables low-TRL RAS technologies to be developed and then translated into safe, reliable and innovative solutions that can be deployed to address long-term industry and societal problems in a range of demanding environments. We will focus on generic technologies that will allow RAS to be deployed across multiple industry sectors, and we will target specific use cases that will enable this technology to be demonstrated in sectors of particular importance to the industrial supply chain. These use cases will be drawn from sectors where Jacobs have existing capability, such as nuclear, space and urban infrastructure, but we will also explore areas of growing interest and opportunity, such as clean energy generation, sustainable transportation, healthcare and security.

Key Findings
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Potential use in non-academic contexts
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Organisation Website: http://www.man.ac.uk