Thursday, 27 October 2011

Shaping the Future

We have just launched Shaping the Future, a publication which showcases over 30 University of Hertfordshire research activities.

Read about KASPAR, a robot that helps children with autism to communicate, solutions for teenage obesity and the first carbon neutral home that goes a long way to addressing the UK's housing issues.

Let us know what you think and if you would like a paper copy.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Dark Sky Discovery sites

Astronomers at the University of Hertfordshire are taking part in Dark Sky Discovery – a pioneering new national and regional partnership of astronomy and environmental organisations led by the Science and Technology Facilities Council, which is being launched this week (24 October).

The Hertfordshire team is working with Exmoor National Park to set up a camera to monitor the sky at Exmoor, which has recently been designated Europe’s first International Dark Sky Reserve. The camera will join a network that includes identical cameras on the Isle of Wight, Guernsey and at the University of Hertfordshire. These cameras can discover anything that changes in the night sky. For example, they are poised to catch a supernova event and Exmoor represents an excellent dark site to do this from. Together the cameras regularly detect meteors and with views from different locations have the potential to find the path of an incoming meteor and help in the recovery of meteorites.

In the Eastern region, University of Hertfordshire astronomers are also considering a number of Dark Sky Discovery sites.

Professor Hugh Jones from the University of Hertfordshire says “An excellent example of an early partnership that we have established is with Lee Valley Regional Park Authority. The park provides a range of locations with access to dark skies along with good public transport links and other amenities.”

Coverage of the story can be found here

And here

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Goal to Build 30 More KASPARs to Help Children with Autism

Our researchers have a goal to build over 30 more KASPAR robots to help children with autism.

Professor Kerstin Dautenhahn and her team first designed KASPAR (short for Kinesics and Synchronisation in Personal Assistant Robotics) in 2005, as part of a study for the European Union (EU) Robotcub project. Realising the robot’s potential as a therapeutic tool for children with autism, the team developed the prototype further.

So far, KASPAR has been trialled with 50 children across the autistic spectrum. As a social mediator, the robot has produced remarkable results for some children.

So what next for KASPAR?

“Field results are over and above what we expected. We are hugely encouraged by this progress and by the interest from autism experts, as well as teachers and parents. The fact that KASPAR is one of the three key platforms in the EU Roboskin project, suggests a bright future for KASPAR in this and other application areas. As intellectual property holders of this technology, we’re now looking to extend the project’s scope in the hope of moving it closer to commercialisation, which is a necessary step towards making the robot widely available. Our next goal is to build many more KASPARs, ideally over 30, and to undertake a five-year, larger-scale evaluation study, working with around 200 children,” explains Professor Dautenhahn.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Research into New Technique to Stop Steel Corroding

According to Dr Andreas Chrysanthou in the School of Engineering and Technology, applying electromagnetic fields to steel can protect against corrosion and make savings of  50 percent.

This is good news for the automotive, defence, construction and aerospace industries.

Dr Chrysanthou has now been awarded a further €278,680 for a two-year FP7 Marie Curie International Incoming Fellowship (IIF) project to investigate the effect of applying these electromagnetic fields on the properties of structural metals.

“Our previous work has shown that using electromagnetic treatment as a post-processing routine increases corrosion resistance in steel by about 50 percent,” said Dr Chrysanthou. “Now we need to understand the microstructural effects that take place when the field acts on the steel.”

Read more about Dr Chrysanthou's research in this field