Published on 22/11/2021
Autopod
  • Aston University teams up with Aurrigo to develop knowledge transfer partnership
  • The project will develop systems that enable vehicles to better understand the immediate environment and avoid both stationary and moving objects
  • The partnership will run until September 2022

Aston University has teamed up with a Coventry-based global transport technology firm to make the future of driverless vehicles safer through a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP). The partnership with Aurrigo has developed and implemented a sophisticated machine vision solution for autonomous vehicles in the Low-Speed Autonomous Transport Systems (L-SATS) sector, which will ensure that driverless vehicles cars can avoid unexpected obstacles, making their use safer.  

Aurrigo is a division of the Richmond Design and Marketing Group Ltd (RDM), who are leaders in the UK’s L-SATS sector and introduced the first-ever driverless vehicle in 2017. The company now produces driverless pods in four- and 12-seater versions, along with a Unit Load Device (ULD), which is an automated vehicle suited for use in airport baggage handling or warehouse situations.

A Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) is a three-way collaboration between a business, an academic partner, and a highly qualified graduate, called a KTP associate. The UK-wide programme helps businesses improve their competitiveness and productivity through the better use of knowledge, technology and skills. Aston University is the leading KTP provider within the Midlands.

The KTP uses expertise from Aston University’s School of Computer Science and will run until September 2022. The project has so far completed the simulation phase, which is proving that the system works. The next step is to develop the camera-based detection system using machine learning, which will enable the vehicles to operate safely without a human operator present.

Nick Riddler, engineering manager at RDM Group, said:

“The expertise of Aston University’s academics and their specialist labs are key, allowing us to run detection and recognition of obstacle scenarios.

“This data will be used in our decision-making algorithms which will choose the optimal solution based on the environment. This project will allow us to run accurate detection and obstacle recognition scenarios without having to 'field test' our driverless vehicles.”

The topic of self-driving cars is increasingly gathering attention from both the research community and industry, due to its potential to radically change transport and mobility.

This KTP project puts forward the development of intelligent systems with perception and autonomous decision-making capabilities in order to navigate both stationary and moving objects such as road signs, pedestrians and cyclists with a comprehensive understanding of the immediate environment, while following higher-level directions.

George Vogiatzis, senior lecturer in computer science at Aston University and academic supervisor for the project said:

“All the work we do at Aston University in terms of research either has a very strong applied element or leads to a strong application area.

"The nice thing about this KTP project is that it takes this idea to the next level and fits with our understanding of what research is meant to be doing – solving real problems.”

James Heaton, the associate working on the project, said:

“If we weren’t able to use the simulation environment to create synthetic data, we’d have to be driving around the country collecting data.

"I’m really excited that we’ve shown that this can work, and it provides massive savings for the industry.”

You can watch this story come to life in this short KTP film:

This project is co-funded by the UK’s innovation agency, Innovate UK.

Watch our short film for a simple explanation of how KTP works and see more examples of KTP in action.

To find out more about how your business can benefit from working with Aston University, please email rke@aston.ac.uk or call 0121 204 4242

https://ktn-uk.org/

Notes to Editors

About Aston University

Founded in 1895 and a University since 1966, Aston is a long-established university led by its three main beneficiaries – students, business and the professions, and our region and society. Aston University is located in Birmingham and at the heart of a vibrant city and the campus houses all the university’s academic, social and accommodation facilities for our students. Professor Alec Cameron is the Vice-Chancellor & Chief Executive.

Watch our short film to see how it works and visit our website for examples of KTP in action at Aston.

For media inquiries in relation to this release, contact Rebecca Hume, Press & PR Officer,
on 07557 745416 or email
r.hume@aston.ac.uk

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Sue Smith, Head of Press and Communications
    0121 204 3521
    s.p.smith@aston.ac.uk

Sam Cook, Press and Communications Manager
    0121 204 5065
    s.cook2@aston.ac.uk

Rebecca Hume, Press and Communications Manager
    0121 204 5159
    r.hume@aston.ac.uk

Alternatively, email pr@aston.ac.uk

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