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State-of-the-art robotic sensing hub to launch this autumn

Work is set to begin on a new £2.5 million cutting edge Robotically-Enabled Sensing (RES) hub at the University of Strathclyde.

The Centre for Ultrasonic Engineering (CUE), which is one of the largest research groups of its kind world-wide, will run the innovative purpose built facility in the historic Royal College. The ‘heart of the campus’ laboratory will also allow collaborative working on applied robotics.

The hub brings together next generation robotics with sensing technology to inspect high value components like aeroplane wings at the point of manufacture and throughout their life to make them quicker, easier and cheaper to build.

CUE boasts one of the world’s biggest automated inspection teams. The group carries out non-destructive testing using ultrasound and other sensors to assess components for structural faults or damage and to ensure they are built correctly.

The new cutting edge facility will house 11 robots capable of handling components up to six metres projects to drive research, innovation and training and will support research for nine of the University’s Chancellor’s Fellows.

It will build on established industrial partnerships, including with Prestwick-based global manufacturer of aerostructures Spirit AeroSystems and collaborations with the National Physical Laboratory (NPL) and KUKA Robotics, one of the world’s leading industrial robotics innovators.

Professor Gareth Pierce, from Electronic and Electrical Engineering, said: "We are creating a go-to facility for automation and sensor integration. The work will ensure that components are built and maintained safely and more quickly, as well as more cheaply and of higher quality.

“The hub will enable us to expand our customer base into new sectors and also help build Strathclyde’s international reputation in robotics research capability, bringing advanced robotics and sensing technology to the largest possible audience.”

“It will also ensure that our graduates will be the next generation of advanced robotic engineers, providing novel solutions to challenges across sectors from manufacturing and healthcare to civil construction and nuclear decommissioning.”

Geoff Pinner, Head of Wing Engineering and AIC, Spirit AeroSystems, said: “Partnerships between industry and academia, such as the relationship with Strathclyde, are essential for Spirit. The RES lab will play a key part in the development and integration of new industry leading technologies, enabling us to remain at the forefront of the ever evolving aerospace market.”

CUE also carries out work at Strathclyde’s high-tech manufacturing centre the Advanced Forming Research Centre and the Technology and Innovation Centre, the research and innovation hub of the Glasgow City Innovation District.

The new facility will also help combat a ‘bottleneck’ in manufacturing inspections due to a lack of specialists.

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