Three new academic research partners in RAIN

We have added three new institutions to the RAIN Hub. They are tasked with carrying out projects that are complimentary to work already ongoing in the hub, in areas we wanted to draw in additional expertise. It is great to welcome them to the team!

Dr Jordan Boyle is a Lecturer in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Leeds and the Operational Director of the EPSRC National Facility for Innovative Robotic Systems. Most of his research relates to developing robust robotic systems capable of operating independently in complex and challenging environments. He has a particular interest in biologically-inspired solutions and has previously worked on modelling neural locomotion control in the nematode C. elegans and applying this understanding to the control of snake-like robots. His current work includes developing miniature robots for inspecting utility pipes and burrowing robots for installing underground cables. His project within the RAIN hub aims to develop an agile pipe-inspection platform capable of operating in a range of diameters down to 2 inches. This will draw on his previous research experience developing miniature mobile robots for use in the human colon.


Professor Nick Wright is based at the University of Newcastle, where a wide range of robotics technologies are under development. There is a particular focus on underwater robotics that draws on expertise in marine technology, electronics and materials. In 2019, a Newcastle team competed for the global X-prize competition in ocean exploration and won the highly prestigious Moonshot prize. Other research activities include specialist ROV design, underwater sensors and underwater computer vision with associated machine learning techniques. Within the RAIN Hub, the IMROVAIT project will develop new technologies to improve significantly the operation of Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs) in nuclear environments.


Dr Peter Scarfe joins us from the University of Reading. The Vision and Haptics Laboratory conducts research at the interface of Perceptual Psychology, Engineering and Robotics. The overall goal of the lab is to apply knowledge of how the human sensory system processes and integrates multi-sensory information to improve the design and use of systems which utilise 3D visualisation, virtual reality and haptic robotics. As such, we have close collaborations with industrial partners such as Remote Applications in Challenging Environments (RACE) and the NHS (Christie hospital Manchester) and have worked on data visualisation with members of the European Space Agency’s Rosetta mission. We collaborate extensively with colleagues in the biomedical Engineering group here at the University of Reading. The research project they are undertaking as part of the RAIN Hub will examine the way in which altered sensorimotor mappings impact performance in a VR-haptic telerobotic environment. This information can provide guidelines as to how best to optimise the use of existing systems and how to build better systems in the future.