Ensuring safety in autonomous systems

Robotics, autonomous systems and artificial intelligence have the potential to transform the way we live, travel and work. From driver-less cars and remotely monitored ships, to virtual assistants and robotic machinery, these technologies increasingly play a defining role within healthcare, transportation, manufacturing and the wider economy.

Many Yorkshire businesses are keen to realise the full potential of these rapidly advancing technologies, but safety needs to be at the centre of how they are used.

  • How do you ensure the safety of systems operating with a high degree of autonomy, particularly those that operate in close proximity to people?
  • How do you have certainty that machine learning algorithms are going to work as we expect them to, even in unusual situations?
  • And if something goes wrong, who is responsible?

The Institute for Safe Autonomy (ISA) at the University of York can help local businesses address these concerns. Launching in spring 2023, ISA will take a safety-first approach to the development of robotics and autonomous systems (RAS). This flagship initiative brings together interdisciplinary expertise from across the University to collaborate with industry, regulators and policymakers, in a purpose-built ‘Living Lab’. The recently completed ISA building combines a range of experimental laboratories and test spaces for autonomous systems operating on the ground, underwater and in the air.

The Assuring Autonomy International Programme (AAIP) is a founding pillar of the Institute. They help businesses assure the safety of RAS. “We recently worked with partners in the region to develop the only robust approach to assuring the safety and security of collaborative robots, or “cobots”, that will benefit many domains, including industrial manufacturing,” says Professor John McDermid, AAIP’s Director. “We work across domains to translate our influential research into technical guidance to help organisations to give confidence to their employees, their regulators and their investors in the safety of RAS.”

“The Institute for Safe Autonomy is a vital resource and partner for businesses, large or small, who are looking for fully equipped testing spaces, expert advice or collaborative funding opportunities,” explained Professor Miles Elsden, Director of the Institute, “With projects spanning transport, green energy and quantum communications, ISA researchers are sector-agnostic safety experts, able to support the entire lifecycle of product or system development; from initial design through to real-world deployment.”

If you’re interested in working with ISA, contact us on 01904 324766 or email isa@york.ac.uk