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Explore: Advanced Manufacturing

Explore is a series of webinars which has been created to provide a platform for organisations to hear from leading researchers at the University of Edinburgh. The series will see multi-disciplinary academics share their expertise, discuss the latest advances and present cutting-edge innovations relevant to your organisation.


Explore: Advanced Manufacturing

The first webinars in the Explore series took on the theme of Advanced Manufacturing. The Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in a significant fall in production and sales across UK manufacturing, with more than 35% of firms[1] believing it will take a year or more to return to normal trading conditions. Advanced manufacturing has the potential to help businesses recover from this crisis and protect them from future risk by transforming productivity, agility and resilience.

You can access the webinars in the Explore: Advanced Manufacturing series to find out how:

  • the latest science and technology research at the University of Edinburgh can enable efficient, intelligent production and effective organisation within manufacturing
  • manufacturers are using innovations such as the fabrication of new materials, additive manufacturing via 3D printing, robotics, micro-manufacturing and clean room production to increase competitiveness

[1] Make UK  Covid-19 Manufacturing Monitor – 15 May 2020

Past Webinars

Autonomous Robot Helpers in a Post-Covid-19 world

Speaker: Prof Ram Ramamoorthy

Recent years have seen numerous robots go from research prototypes to deployed products, typically powered by the latest advances in sensing, AI, and materials. The Post-COVID19 world presents many new challenges which robotics may be able to address. In this webinar, we will take a glimpse at a few of these. We will talk about:

  • How advances in automated mobility present new opportunities
  • How robot helpers in our hospitals and labs can play a crucial role, not only in the present circumstances of social distancing, but also longer term.
  • How similar autonomous robots can play a crucial assistive role by amplifying the reach of our workforce

PROF RAM RAMAMOORTHY is a Professor and Personal Chair in Robot Learning and Autonomy, within the School of Informatics, University of Edinburgh. He is an Executive Committee Member for the Edinburgh Centre for Robotics and Turing Fellow at the Alan Turing Institute. He received his PhD in Electrical and Computer Engineering from The University of Texas at Austin in 2007. He has been an elected Member of the Young Academy of Scotland at the Royal Society of Edinburgh, and Visiting Professor at Stanford University and the University of Rome ‘La Sapienza’. His research focus is on robot learning and decision-making under uncertainty, with particular emphasis on achieving safe and robust autonomy in human-centered environments. He has attracted funding as PI or Co-I from organisations including UKRI, EU (via H2020 and FP7), Royal Academy of Engineering, Royal Society and DARPA. His current projects include a Turing Institute sponsored project on safe AI and control for surgical assistance, a Cancer Research UK funded project Mammobot: A flexible robot for early breast cancer diagnosis, and the ISCF funded ORCA HUB through which he works on explainable robot control and planning in extreme environments.

He serves as Vice President – Prediction and Planning at FiveAI, a UK-based startup company focused on developing a technology stack for autonomous vehicles.

Remote design research 

Speaker: Dr Dave Murray-Rust

How do we get important information about product design, while maintaining social distancing? In this talk, Dave will cover work from the Chatty Factories EPSRC funded project, focusing on understanding how users interact with products by using live sensor data alongside traditional design ethnography. You will see how smart, connected devices can help us find key moments to talk to people and develop a rich picture of the way that the use digital devices. The session will also look at some of the ways that data can support the design process, generating innovation as well as optimisation.

DR DAVE MURRAY-RUST is a Senior Lecturer in Design Informatics at the University of Edinburgh. He has a MEng in Information Systems (Cambridge), MSc in Informatics (Edinburgh) and a PhD in Artificial Intelligence and Music (Edinburgh). His work is concerned with ways that people, data and things interact. He is researching questions such as: How can we understand the “social machines” – large-scale human-computer collective systems – that are a manifestation of the algorithmic society that we are heading towards? How can we ensure that there is space for people within computational systems, preserving privacy, choice, identity and humanity while making use of possibilities of computational coordination and personal data? How can we work with things that have an increasing sense of agency, from sensing to responding to shaping the world around them? In practice, this relates to: IoT, personal data, human data interaction, physical computing and manifesting data.

21st century cottage industries: lessons from crowdsourced face shield production

Speaker: Dr Katherine Dunn

The Covid-19 pandemic created huge demand for equipment such as face shields. To address the shortages, volunteers started producing these items in improvised factories (and sometimes their living rooms). A distributed manufacturing network emerged. In this talk, Katherine will discuss how the phenomenon of crowdsourcing face shield production could inspire new approaches for manufacturing. If it is possible to establish cottage industries for the production of something as critical as face shields for workers in health and social care, what else could we make in this way if we put our minds to it?

DR KATHERINE DUNN is a lecturer in the School of Engineering at the University of Edinburgh. Katherine’s background is interdisciplinary; she has particular expertise in bioengineering and physics, teaches mechanical engineering students and is a member of the academic steering committee of the Precision Medicine Doctoral Training Programme. Her research group focuses on the development of new technologies to solve real-world problems in medicine and energy, often using bionanotechnology. Katherine initiated and is leading the programme ‘Edinburgh Engineering Against Coronavirus’, as part of which over 11,000 face shields have been made and donated. She was also involved in a study demonstrating that face coverings can reduce the Covid-19 transmission risk and she is working on the development of a pipeline that will allow bespoke hardware to be made rapidly to meet emerging healthcare and wellbeing needs. Twitter: @kdunnresearch