Four universities team up to develop smart sensor systems

The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) is funding a project to develop sensor systems for use in smart cities, the Internet of Things (IoT), big data and driverless cars.

The Science of Sensor Systems Software (S4) project involves researchers from the Universities of Liverpool, Glasgow, St. Andrews and Imperial College London, who will share their expertise in the fields of computing, engineering and mathematics with experts from the private and public sector.

Among the companies and scientific organisations participating in the project are ABB, the British Geological Survey, CENSIS, Freescale, Rolls-Royce, Thales and Transport Scotland.

According to the University of Liverpool, S4 aims to develop new principles and techniques for sensor system software that will allow scientists and policymakers to ask deeper questions and be confident in obtaining reliable answers from the ever-expanding networks of sensors.

The research could, for example, lead to more robust water networks, more responsive air quality monitoring, reliable autonomous vehicles and precision manufacturing.

Professor Muffy Calder, head of the College of Science and Engineering at the University of Glasgow and Professor of Formal Methods in Computing Science, will lead the project, working with Professor Simon Dobson at St. Andrews, Professor Michael Fisher at Liverpool and Professor Julie McCann at Imperial College.

The EPSRC has provided a grant of almost £4.2m to support the project, which will run until 2021.

Professor Calder said: We’re pleased and proud to have won the backing of EPSRC through their Programme Grant scheme for this very exciting project.

Although sensors are becoming ever more commonplace in all kinds of devices around us and in our everyday lives, sensors themselves and the environments in which they operate are very uncertain: we don’t have a unifying science to ensure that the systems and the information they provide is resilient, responsive, reliable and robust.

By the end of the project the team will have answered a number of fundamental questions about how to design, deploy and reason about sensor based systems, developing new principles, techniques and tools, alongside simulations and physical sensor testbeds for experimentation. They will also demonstrate the applicability and effectiveness of the new techniques across a range of applications.

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