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The University of Southampton
Autonomous Systems


We welcome industry partners large and small at events such as our Autonomous Systems Showcase. Attendees discover new funding routes, and are more likely to work with the university as a result.

Our customers include the Met Office, the BBC, Kent Police, Rotterdam port Authority, the National Oceanography Centre, British Antarctic Survey

In recent years Southampton University  has attracted nearly £20M in research funding from a variety of funding bodies in the areas of autonomy, robotics and aerial vehicles including a 2014 £3M capital grant to fund unmanned systems facilities.

Our pioneering research into aerial and maritime autonomous systems has a strong track record in producing successful autonomous platforms for scientific and commercial applications. A particular strength of the Southampton team is that, in addition to fundamental research in autonomous systems, it has a track record in developing novel vehicles that are designed to be routinely used to deliver useful results.

Collaborations with partners in our research

Atmospheric scientists face danger working in remote, hostile environments; high altitudes and Polar Regions. It is hard to obtain detailed in situ data from these regions using conventional observing platforms. In 2013 we launched our Massive Atmospheric Volume Instrumentation System (MAVIS), funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, in partnership with the Scottish Marine Institute, and with the support of the British Antarctic Survey, the MetOffice and the National Centre for Atmospheric Science.

Part of the University's Atmospheric Science Through Robotic Aircraft initiative ASTRA , which has pioneered rapid prototyping and low cost technologies in the design of UAS for geoscientific research; MAVIS incorporates a fleet of small, light, bespoke instrumented gliders; released en masse at high altitude from meteorological balloons over the target environment.

During their autopilot-guided descent along paths optimised for sampling efficiency, they collect a wide range of readings for conversion into an accurate map of the quantity, e.g. pollutant concentration;being observed.

Key facts

Contact: Professor James Scanlan

BAS provides a focus for international co-operation and programme co-ordination
World leading support for spin-out companies

Key facts

The University of Southampton is unique in the UK in having two University Technology Centres (UTCs): one with Rolls-Royce and one with Airbus. This gives our students opportunities to benefit from relevant training and experience through internships and placements and enables them to go on to join such companies later.

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