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The University of Southampton

Southampton engineering students celebrate success with inaugural Shell Innovation Award

Published: 2 July 2019
Image of award winners
Members of the Robot Localisation team with Carl Henrickson (Shell).

A group of talented engineering students at the University of Southampton have won the inaugural Shell Innovation Award for their unique design of a localisation system to aid the positioning accuracy of autonomous robots.

The successful Group Design Project showcased the talents of five Mechanical Engineering students – Justin Godden, Oliver Heilmann, Caroline Layzell, Michael Leat and Alice Loneragan – who have all just completed their degrees and will graduate this summer. Their project was supervised by Professor Paul White and Professor Martyn Hill.

Alice Loneragan said: “Our project was designed to help the University’s standing in the global Eurobot competition where we’ve always competed pretty well but we wanted to push that even further with our design. We’re really proud as a team and we’re really grateful to Shell for sponsoring this award and for recognising the work we have put in this year. We’re really happy to have won and it is a great way to round off our time at the University!”

Localisation is the understanding of a person or object’s position relative to their environment. This project proposes the design of a localisation system for autonomous robots featuring an innovative combination of gyroscopic, optical and ultrasonic sensors to determine their position within an accuracy of 20mm.

The test method has been validated to measure the position trajectory of a robot with an accuracy of 3mm. The system has been designed to improve performance of robots participating in the Eurobot competition and has wider applications ranging from automotive vehicles to domestic robotics.

Carl Henrickson, General Manager, Shipping & Maritime Technology, Innovation & Digitalisation at Shell International Trading and Shipping Company, whose team led the judging panel for the Award, praised the students for their ingenuity and the focus on sustainability they integrated into the project.

“I’m pleased to present the inaugural Shell Innovation Award to this group of students. They are worthy winners.” Henrickson said.

“It’s a privilege to come to the University of Southampton and see the incredible Boldrewood Innovation Campus. Having this kind of facility, with the support of the Faculty and staff, gives students the space and time to be innovative and to think about more sustainable solutions to challenges.

“It’s great for us, at Shell, to be able to work with our very capable colleagues at Southampton. We know they have a unique skillset and will put their hearts and souls into innovating.”

Professor David Richards, Head of Southampton’s School of Engineering within the Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences, added: “My congratulations to these students for winning the first-ever Shell Innovation Award, awarded during our fifth annual Design Show. This award and the relationship with Shell Shipping & Maritime is the culmination of research and collaboration over a number of years.

“My reaction to projects like this is always one of immense pride,” Professor Richards continued. “The design briefs set by our academics in collaboration with industry are really challenging and the skills that industry really like are for students to have that much greater appreciation for design as a process – the testing, the experimental process and prototyping – and the development and refinement of ideas all informed by sound engineering science principles. That’s what the Group Design Project is all about.”

The University of Southampton’s fifth annual Design Show showcased Group Design Projects completed by undergraduate engineering students across a range of disciplines including Aeronautics and Astronautics, Acoustics, Civil and Mechanical Engineering and Ship Science. The Group Design Project is the capstone in the final MEng year of these programmes.

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