Loughborough University
Leicestershire, UK
LE11 3TU
+44 (0)1509 222222
Loughborough University

Aeronautical and Automotive Engineering

Research

Researcher using a flight simulator

Control and Reliability Research Group

The Control and Reliability Research Group focuses on the use and development of advanced dynamics and control techniques, risk and reliability analysis in the areas of automotive and aerospace engineering, in close collaboration with industry.

Research activity in this Research Group are mainly conducted through three subgroups or research teams:

  • Autonomous Systems Laboratory
  • Reliability and Risk Analysis Group
  • Caterpillar Innovation and Research Centre

Main foci include:

  • Automotive powertrain control
  • Vehicle dynamics and control
  • Autonomous systems
  • System safety reliability
  • Availability and maintainability analysis methods
  • Decision making in uncertain and dynamic environments
  • Integration for complex systems
  • Fault diagnostics and health monitoring

The group has specific strength in unmanned aircraft systems supported by long term collaborations with BAE Systems and other companies. It is also a part of new EPSRC/Dstl University Defence Research Centre in Signal Processing. As a successful international collaboration, this group jointly hosts the Caterpillar Innovation and Research Centre in Powertrain Control. The research in this Research Group is supported by first class research facilities and equipment including powertrain lab with fully instrumented engines, the four poster active vehicle suspension test rig, the Vicon Indoor flight test environments, and a number of small scale unmanned aircraft systems (both fixed wing and rotary aircraft).

SADMU - Situational Awareness and Decision Making under Uncertainty

It is anticipated that unmanned vehicles will be widely used within military and civilian operations and have a profound influence in our daily life in near future. Before fully realising the potential that unmanned vehicles bring, it is reasonably expected that to make unmanned vehicles accepted by users, the public and regulatory authorities, they shall achieve a similar level of safety as human operated systems. Among many others, a fundamental requirement for an unmanned vehicle is the capability to respond to internal and external changes in a safe, timely and appropriate manner. Therefore, situation awareness and decision making are two of the most important enabling technologies for safe operation of unmanned vehicles. To a large extent, they determine the level of autonomy and intelligence of an unmanned vehicle. Compared with a human driver or pilot residing in the vehicle, a major safety concern is the inevitable reduction in situation awareness of the unmanned vehicle operator remotely located in a control station.

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EPSRC/Dstl University Defence Research Collaboration on Signal Processing for Networked Battlespace

University Defence Research Collaboration (UDRC) in Signal Processing is a five year research programme funded by EPSRC and Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) from 1st of April, 2013 with a total budget of £8M pounds. The aim of the UDRC is to develop unprecedented research in signal processing with application to the defence industry and share knowledge, promote communications, guidance and training. Loughborough leads one of the two consortia with partner universities of Surrey, Cardiff, and Strathclyde. The formation of consortia will bring together researchers from across the different aspects of signal processing to address the research challenges of operating in a networked battlespace. Prof Wen-Hua Chen provides a leading role in Work Package 2 which aims to significantly improve signal processing performance and reduce uncertainties by using all available information in a networked environment. The developed algorithms and methods will be applied to improve situational awareness of battlespace and wide area persistent surveillance with a group of unmanned/manned aircraft and group vehicles. The Autonomous Systems Laboratory will also carry out data collection, algorithm tests and finally demonstrations for all the other work packages in the consortium.

Grid Friendly Inverter Technology for Electric Vehicles (Smart-Inverter)

Battery electric vehicles are beginning to enter the mass market in significant numbers. The impact this may have on the electricity grid should not be underestimated: it will need to provide more power, and the power maybe requested during the already busy evening period. But there is also an opportunity in electric vehicles: they can store electricity, and with proper control charge at a time when electricity is abundant. This is especially useful when increasing amounts of renewable electricity are used, which cannot be scheduled or controlled. Smart power electronics and inverter control can optimise the power flow in and out of the grid; thus supporting it and charging the car without sacrificing power quality. The possibilities of such a system are many: it can be used in parallel with generators or in parallel with other inverters like itself, allowing seamless power flow for local grid or energy store applications as well.

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Automotive Powertrains Laboratory

The powertrains laboratory comprises eight engine test cells and with a chassis dynamometer each. It includes various optical engines and optical diagnostics equipment, a new transient engine dynamometer, CVS sampling capability and HORIBA emissions analysis equipment. The laboratory is run jointly with the Wolfson School of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering.

Power Electronics Laboratory

The power electronics laboratory addresses a number of research challenges for electric vehicles and increasing electrification of conventional vehicles. It contains an electric generator set with field oriented control, a 3 phase grid simulator, a battery testing facility, sophisticated DAQ and rapid prototyping equipment, as well as an EV conversion vehicle and a prototype autonomous electric two wheel vehicle.

LUCAS

LUCAS is a multi-disciplinary research centre bridging the fields of aeronautics with control and robotics. Based in Holywell Park at Loughborough University, the centre has access to versatile facilities, allowing for both indoor and outdoor flight testing. For outdoor testing, LUCAS has a number of small-scale UAVs, including both fixed-wing and rotary-wing aircraft. These UAVs are equipped with onboard autopilot and high-bandwidth telemetry to be able to implement and validate newly developed autonomous functions.

Vicon Motion Capture

For indoor testing, LUCAS uses a Vicon motion capture system that provides a high resolution 3D tracking function for real-time control of autonomous vehicles. In conjunction with in-house rapid prototyping environment, this enables quick and efficient testing of multi-layered autonomous control algorithms and procedures. 

 

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