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Loughborough academic leads team that secures prestigious defence research funding

Pictured left to right: Dr Liam Blackwell EPSRC, Matthew Lodge EPSRC, Professor David Parish, Dean of School of Electronic, Electrical and Systems Engineering, Professor Robert Allison, Vice-Chancellor Loughborough University, Professor Jonathon Chambers Director LSSC Consortium, Professor Andrew Baird Dstl and Robert Elsley Dstl.

A Loughborough University academic and his team have secured a prestigious £4.4 million grant for a project focusing on improving and developing signal processing in a military environment.

Jonathon Chambers FREng, Professor of Communications and Signal Processing in the School of Electronic, Electrical and Systems Engineering, has thereby ensured the University will play a significant role in this key research area.

The funding was provided by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and the Ministry of Defence, through the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl), as part of the University Defence Research Collaboration in Signal Processing (UDRC).

The five year project builds upon the achievements of the first phase of the UDRC which ran from 2009-2013, and is entitled ‘Signal Processing Solutions for the Networked Battlespace’.

Professor Chambers is leading the LSSC Consortium, comprising Loughborough, Surrey, Strathclyde and Cardiff Universities, which will work in partnership with the other consortium led by Edinburgh University.

The LSSC Consortium will also be supported by six companies – QinetiQ, Thales, Selex ES, Texas Instruments, Steepest Ascent and Prism Technology – who will bring their industry expertise to the project.

Describing the collaboration, Professor Chambers, who has been working in signal processing for over 20 years, said:

“I am delighted that we were successful in being selected as one of the consortia to take this research programme forward.

“The team we have assembled contains some of the leading experts in the field of signal processing across the UK, which contributes significantly to the strength of our consortium.”

The LSSC Consortium will focus on five key areas of signal processing, including detecting anomalies and unusual behaviour in the ‘networked battlespace’; handling uncertainty and exploiting domain knowledge; and signal separation and beamforming.

It is hoped that the application of the research ensures that decision making and information exploitation is greatly enhanced.  Professor Chambers explains:

“The ability to process data and exploit information is a very high priority for defence strategies, so primarily the research is to aid in decision making. But in order to make those decisions effectively all information sources must be considered.

“In a battlespace environment there is generally a wide range of operational units, such as aircraft, ships, land vehicles and troops on the ground, all of which benefit from networked communications.

“A very large amount of data and information has therefore to be gathered and then condensed and in a form that is presentable to an individual in order to make a decision. Retaining data integrity together with extracting the relevant information is key in helping the decision making process.

“By doing this, service personnel will be able to operate more effectively, as the research will help enable them to be better informed.”

Dr Liam Blackwell, ICT Theme Lead for the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, said:

“We are pleased to have funded two consortia as part of the University Defence Research Collaboration (UDRC) in conjunction with our funding partners Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl).

“The LSSC Consortium proposes to tackle some highly important and significant research problems in the digital signal processing area which when realised will benefit not only the defence sector but other areas of national importance such as healthcare and security.

“We look forward to working with Dstl and both consortia in the UDRC to produce research that adds value to the UK through defence innovation and beyond.”

Professor Andrew Baird, UDRC Technical Lead for the Defence Science & Technology Laboratory, said:

“Signal processing is a core technology for defence underpinning sensing, information management and military decision making for space, air, land and maritime environments. Together with our colleagues in EPSRC, we are very pleased to support both of the consortia in the UDRC.

“This is so that the Ministry of Defence can continue to benefit from the latest technical developments in the form of new and innovative solutions to current and future defence challenges.

“With its unique blend of academic, industrial and continuing government participation, the UDRC offers a new and exciting model for early stage development.”

Professor Chambers will be a guest speaker at the Sensor Signal Processing for Defence 2013 Conference, being held in London on Wednesday 4 December.

Full details of the LSSC Consortium research programme can be found at:
http://www.eng.ed.ac.uk/drupal/udrc/research/lssc-consortium/

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