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Welcome to the second issue of the Pipebots newsletter.  We have had a busy few months since our last newsletter in December 2019!  We have almost completed our recruitment and are pleased to welcome the newest member of the team Dr NGUYEN Thanh-Luan who joined Theme 4 last month.  Welcome to Pipebots Luan!  

During the last few months, the research team have continued to meet up regularly and, following on from the challenge specifications reported in the last newsletter, the team recently started working on 4 case studies.  Last week, we kicked off the second Pipebots sprint to build and test the first Pipebots integrated system.  The  research team will work together on this for the next four weeks and report back to the academic team at the end of the month.  The team has also been busy attending a number of conferences and events, locally, nationally and internationally.  Prof Lyudmila Mihaylova gave a plenary talk at the 1st Joint International Conference on Design & Construction of SMART CITY Components  in Cairo Egypt in December 2019 and Pipebots researchers Dr Yicheng Yu and Dr Xudong Nui visited the Institute of Acoustics, Chinese Academy of Sciences (IACAS). 
During the last few months, we have also held a number of meetings with stakeholders and we continue to work with and consult our industry partners.  We very much welcome participation from industry partners in our case studies, meetings and events.  If you are interested in Pipebots activities or events please do not hesitate to contact us
Pipebots Research Update
Case Studies
The Pipebots team has started work on four case studies, which stem from the challenge specifications reported in the previous newsletter.  The case studies are developing a set of more detailed requirements for the Pipebots to meet in the Asset Mapping, Blockage, Leakage and Condition Assessment challenges.  These requirements are split into three categories: Essential - if this is not met the Pipebot would not be viable; Desirable - this would increase the impact and cost-benefit ratio of the Pipebot; Wish List - these would be nice to have, but probably aren't feasible at present. 
Each of the four case studies has a team of researchers who will initially determine the required specifications to meet the requirements, feed these specifications into the design of components and then into integrated robot prototypes as the project progresses.  We are currently setting up a small industrial advisory panel for each of the case studies, it is expected these would meet with the case study team up to twice per year to provide feedback on progress and ensure the Pipebots meet the needs of the water industry.

Pipebots Sprint 2: First Integrated System

Pipebots researchers gathered at Sheffield University’s Integrated Civil and Infrastructure Research Centre (ICAIR) to take part in the project’s second Sprint event. Sprint 2 involves a month long effort by all researchers to design, build and test a proof-of-concept integrated system, capable of autonomously exploring a pipe environment. The team provided an update on research progress thus far, and conducted a survey of available buried pipes at ICAIR. Fruitful discussions centred on desired control, sensing and mapping capability, and subsequent size, power and communication constraints. The team will reconvene again in four weeks to test the new ‘SprintBot’ in a challenging navigation task.
Model based systems engineering
Pipebots is employing model based systems engineering techniques and a system modelling tool to graphically present requirements drawn from Ofwat’s PR19 guidance documentation.  The diagram shows a partial decomposition of the requirements elicited; space restrictions prevent publication of the full picture (a small black square in the top left-hand corner of one of the boxes indicates further decomposition that has not been shown).  The modelling tool, CORE produced by Vitech Corporation, serves, amongst other things, as a repository of data generated by the project and will assist in helping to maximise the impact of Pipebots’ research findings.
Meet the Pipebots Team
Welcome Luan!
We are pleased to welcome Dr NGUYEN Thanh-Luan to the Pipebots team!  Luan will be working in Theme 4: Autonomous Control and will design, analyse, implement, and test control algorithms for swarms of autonomous robots to cooperate in different inspection tasks in active pipes.
Other News
Pipebots in Cairo

Prof Lyudmila Mihaylova gave a plenary talk at the 1st Joint International Conference on Design & Construction of SMART CITY Components 17-19 December, 2019 at the German University in Cairo (GUC), Cairo, Egypt.Prof Mihaylova presented the Pipebots project, showed the video and discussed project aims and objectives and work packages with conference attendees. There was significant of interest in Pipebots. After her talk, Prof Mihaylova had a meeting with academics from Civil Engineering and Computer Science, Robotics. The conference was well attended and there were 2 transport ministers in attendance.  These are pictures from the event.

Pipebots visit to the Institute of Acoustics, Chinese Academy of Sciences
In Jan 2020, Pipebots researchers Dr Yicheng Yu and Dr Xudong Nui visited the Institute of Acoustics, Chinese Academy of Sciences (IACAS) in Beijing. They met with Professor Jun Yang, Professor Yan Gao, Professor Hongling Sun and many other researchers and discussed the Pipebots project, current discovery of acoustic sensing techniques for condition monitoring in pipes (especially leakage detection), the follow-up study and further collaboration on this project.
National School Robot Competition Launch
The EPSRC UK Robotics & Autonomous Systems Network (UK-RAS Network) joined forces with online educational publisher Twinkl to deliver the national School Robot Competition, which launched at the National Space Centre in Leicester on 13th February 2020.  Pipebots were there to help to launch competition and talked to groups of students aged 8 to 11 from nearby primary schools about Pipebots.  The launch was well attended with 35 eager school children and their teachers attending and asking lots of questions and making lots of suggestions for Pipebots!

The annual competition invites groups of students aged 8-14 to create virtual robots through the augmented reality (AR) app.  Schools can register their entry by downloading and creating an account through the app via the Apple App Store and Google Play, as well as through the web-based version. Pipebots is very excited to be involved in this completion and looking forward to judging the competition entries!  The competition closes at midnight on Monday 4th May 2020.

Upcoming Events
Robotic Challenge 2020: Robots for Resilient Infrastructure
23 - 24 June 2020, Leeds, UK
This two-day challenge event will demonstrate cutting-edge robots and autonomous systems to create, inspect, repair and maintain our critical infrastructure. Alongside showcasing technical advances, the event will create a space to discuss the benefits and impacts of adopting such technology, and what we need to do to prepare for the future.  The event will bring those with responsibility for infrastructure, contractors, policy makers and city builders together with researchers and innovators in this area, to create a broad vision of the challenges and opportunities for infrastructure robotics.  Organisers are currently inviting submissions for the following:
  • Posters: Share technical research and innovation, and also work related to the benefits and impacts of adopting robotics and autonomous systems for infrastructure. Submit abstracts by 15 March 2020.
  • Showcase stands: Show robotic and autonomous systems for infrastructure that are in development or are already being implemented. Submit stand summaries by 15 March 2020
FREE to enter. Cash prizes for the poster and showcase stand categories total £500.  Full can be found on HERE
MathWorks Minidrone Competition at MATLAB EXPO UK 2020

Demonstrate your skills with MATLAB and Simulink in the MathWorks Minidrone Competition at MATLAB EXPO UK 2020. The competition will be held at Ricoh Arena, Judds Lane, Longford, Coventry, CV6 6AQ, United Kingdom.  The winner of this event will be the team that designs the best minidrone line follower.  More inf o and how to apply can be found HERE

Members of the Pipebots team will be attending the following events:
Twenty 65 Annual Conference, Manchester, UK, 28th - 29th April 2020
Robotic Challenge 2020: Robots for resilient infrastructure, Leeds, UK, 23rd and 24th June 2020
NO-DIG LIVE 2020, East of England Arena & Events Centre, UK, 15th - 17th Sept 2020
ICUD 2020 – International Conference on Urban Drainage, Melbourne, Australia, September 2020
Get Involved
The Pipebots team want to engage with a wide range of stakeholders and welcome participation and involvement from academia, industry, governing bodies and investors.  If you would like to participate in one of the case studies, or are interested in part-funding a PhD student, please get in touch: or complete the Pipebots Engagement Form
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Pipebots · University of Sheffield - Broad Lane Building · Broad Lane · Sheffield, Shf S14BT · United Kingdom

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