For the past three years researchers from the Centre for Transport and Society, University of the West of England (UWE Bristol), have been involved in the Capri project, looking into the impact of autonomous vehicles. Dr Ian Shergold has given a summary of their recent findings in the post below:
Capri was a practical, evidence-led research project that has broadened the UK’s knowledge of the short, medium and long term impacts of connected and autonomous vehicles (CAV) and helped inform the future direction of CAV development and implementation.
Capri was an industry-led consortium comprising 17 partners, including UWE, partly funded by Innovate UK and the Centre for Connected & Autonomous Vehicles (CCAV). Funding was awarded though a competition to sponsor projects that would deliver technical solutions for CAV that provide real-world benefits to users as well as identifying commercial benefits. It has paved the way for the use of CAV to move people around locations such as airports, hospitals, business parks, shopping and tourist centres.
Capri ran from 2017-2020, and built on successful earlier research studies and live trials of autonomous vehicles involving UWE and the Bristol Robotics Laboratory (BRL), namely the Venturer and Flourish projects.
The UWE team working on Capri was led by Graham Parkhurst, Professor of Sustainable Mobility and Director of the research Centre for Transport & Society (CTS) at the University of the West of England in Bristol. Over the last three years he has been joined by colleagues in CTS, in particular Dr Daniela Paddeu and Dr Ian Shergold to carry out a range of social and behavioural research on CAV.
Over the three years of the study four different kinds of research have been undertaken.
The project began for CTS with focus groups to find out what members of the public think about the possible benefits and difficulties presented by autonomous shuttle pods, leading up to a one-day ‘codesign workshop’. This event brought together over sixty members of the public, alongside technical experts and academics, to explore how systems based on pods might look, how they would operate and where they might be deployed.
The CTS team also undertook surveys of public willingness to use automated shuttles amongst users of two of the types of facility in which the vehicles could be deployed; a university campus and an airport.
The centrepiece of the project were the live demonstration trials in Bristol and London, where pods were safely run in fully autonomous mode. In Bristol the team undertook two experiments which were amongst the first of their kind, exploring how passenger perceptions of trust and comfort were influenced by where they sat in the vehicle, how fast it went, and whether there was a safety steward on board or not.
In London the team undertook observations and surveys with members of the public, not only those experiencing the vehicle, but also people who were interacting with it as pedestrians and cyclists in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.
Most people, throughout the research, showed good levels of trust in the technology, would be willing to use it, thought it could be useful to others as well, and depending on the circumstances, would be willing to pay to use it. We found people willing to share if services would remain convenient and safe.
There was also a wide range of social, environmental and practical concerns that need to be taken seriously, and to which the team do not yet have all the solutions.
However, the experiments showed that people became more favourable following an experience of actually riding in one of the shuttles. And this was particularly true for car drivers, who started off the most cautious of our participants, but became the most positive.
As to direction of face in the vehicle and how fast it went they found that trust in the system was slightly lower at a higher speed and when facing backwards to the direction of travel, so users are sensitive to the design of vehicle and the driving characteristics.
Interestingly though, people who travelled in a shuttle without a steward on board were just as trusting as those who travelled with one. This is an important finding as the whole point of an autonomous vehicle is that it doesn’t need onboard staff.
Although Capri has now finished, CTS and UWE research on autonomous vehicles continues through a project called MultiCAV, which is developing automated public transport vehicles for use on public roads. CTS are also part of a project called ‘Driverless Futures’ which is currently considering how the highway code would work if some road vehicles are driven by computer.
Over the course of the CAPRI project, over 650 members of the public contributed to the research. The team are grateful to them for their time and for sharing their views.
For anyone interested in finding out more about Capri and our work, please visit the online Capri ‘Virtual Museum‘ which has much more on the project and its results.
An innovation developed through the EU funded “Living Architecture” Project, has been selected by the EU as something to be showcased on their Innovation Radar website. The project is between UWE Bristol; University of Newcastle Upon Tyne; the Spanish National Research Council; LIQUIFER Systems Group; Expolora SRL and the University of Trento, Italy. The recognition of the project on this website helps to demonstrate the work UWE have been doing to a global audience and may lead to new opportunities.
Living Architecture is conceived as a next-generation selectively-programmable bioreactor technology and integral component of human dwelling, capable of extracting valuable resources from waste water and air, generation of oxygen and production of proteins and fiber by manipulating consortia performance. The project’s final demonstrator is a modular bioreactor-wall, which is based on the operational principles of UWE’s microbial fuel cell technology and synthetic ‘consortia’ of microbes. Its operational principles are grounded in distributed sensing, decentralised autonomous information processing, high-degree of fault-tolerance and distributed actuation and reconfiguration.
Project lead for UWE Bristol Yannis Ieropoulos commented: “We are really excited that our project has been selected to be showcased by the European Commission’s Innovation Radar. This is testament to the scientific excellence of this collective effort, which empirically demonstrates the positive impact that any building can have on our environment and the real value it can add to society.”
Details of the team’s innovation are now available here.
Future Space resident Mass Spec Analytical, announced today that it has received additional funding from Innovate UK to pursue its Plasma Ion Source Development work.
Mass Spec Analytical (MSA) received the award through the Analysis for Innovators Competition where the aim is to help companies overcome intractable product, manufacturing or process performance problems through advanced measurement and analytical technologies.
Mass Spec Analytical specialises in the development of versatile direct-analysis ion sources for substance identification using mass spectrometry.
MSA was awarded a further grant under the COVID-19: Continuity Grants initiative to provide additional support to the project, ensuring that the challenges presented by the current pandemic and lock down of key facilities would have as little impact as possible.
Lance Hiley, MSA Managing Director commented: “The Analysis for Innovators (A4I) programme has provided our business with access to experts and equipment in laboratories recognised worldwide for analysis and measurement”
“That is invaluable to a company like ours developing innovative products. Our project had just got underway when the Covid-19 Lockdown was announced, and our plans delayed. The Covid-19 Continuity Grant has provided us with additional funds to develop workarounds with our Innovate measurement partner and implement alternative approaches to the workplan. The structure of the grant also ensures that the additional funds will pay for a legacy in our business in the years to come.”
Future Space is part of the University Enterprise Zone. They connect entrepreneurs and tech innovators with scientists, researchers and graduate talent – to spark collaboration, innovation and growth. Find out more here.
UWE Bristol Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) team have secured a new KTP with Harris Evolution, increasing the KTP portfolio to 13 live projects. The project will see Harris Evolution work with the UWE Bristol Business School (BBS).
The application, led by Ellen Parkes from UWE Bristol, was funded under Innovate UKs Management Knowledge Transfer Partnership (MKTP) scheme, which was announced in 2019 following a £25m pledge in funding over the next three years from BEIS (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy).
Based in Kingswood, Bristol, Harris Evolution is a commercial refurbishment company, specialising in quick turnaround projects carried out whilst the buildings are still in occupation. Harris’ work is targeted within three main sectors; Education, Healthcare and Hotel/Leisure.
The 24-month KTP project aims to implement transformational innovation through an Advanced Services approach to contract development and development of leadership capacity and will be led by Dr Kyle Alves , Dr Mel Smith and Professor Gareth Edwards (BBS). Through the collaboration with UWE, Harris will move from a standardised service offer to implementing outcome-based service contracts, tailored around individual customer value.
This partnership received financial support from the Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTP) programme. KTP aims to help businesses to improve their competitiveness and productivity through the better use of knowledge, technology and skills that reside within the UK knowledge base. This successful Knowledge Transfer Partnership project, funded by UK Research and Innovation through Innovate UK, is part of the government’s Industrial Strategy.
As a result of their expertise in Public Health, Emergency Medical Care, Knowledge Mobilisation, Maths and Computer Modelling, and other such related areas, a number of UWE researchers have been approached or volunteered in assisting with the country’s efforts to tackle Covid-19. A selection of these researchers can be found below. This is by no means an exhaustive list.
UWE Researchers and the Clinical Commissioning Groups
As part of UWE’s response to Covid-19,
researchers from UWE have been working with the local Clinical Commissioning
Groups (CCG) to provide evidence to support rapid decision making. The CCG are the people charged with making healthcare
decisions locally and they are currently grappling with things such as: what do
we need to do? where do we need to pool our resources? what types of treatment
are needed? how do we need to respond? The local CCG includes healthcare providers in Bristol, North Somerset and South
Within the local CCG ‘cells’ have been established, acting as working
groups purely in
response to the impact that Covid-19 is having on current healthcare. Many
issues have come up including: home monitoring of symptoms, impact on mental
health and impact of healthcare workers’ absenteeism. These issues have come up
as people look to manage problems most effectively and efficiently. The Research
and Evidence Team at the CCG, along with Professor Nicki Walsh who works across
UWE, the CCG and the Applied Research Collaborative (ARC-West) are working with
the local commissioners to manage these requests. These important questions are
then fed to the Applied Research Collaborative West team, who co-ordinate
researchers from UWE and the University of Bristol, creating a rapid response
team to retrieve and synthesise evidence, or provide other advice to support evaluation,
healthcare modelling, statistics and economics.
The emphasis of this approach is the
rapid turnaround system. Most requests are processed within 48 hours from the point
of the CCG submitting a question, to the academic providing that support and
reporting back to the CCG. Nicki
is the overall co-ordinator
at UWE for all this because of her work across the different partner
In place, there is now a
good pool of UWE and UoB researchers ready to respond to calls for assistance
as and when they come in. Nicki says the response from academics has been excellent
and hugely encouraging:
“This service requires academics to work in
such a different way. Because it’s quick and by necessity not as in depth as
traditional evidence reviews. Traditionally things can often progress quite
slowly, but it’s been a totally different response and things are getting
turned around quickly”.
Nicki explained in more
detail how resources were best pooled:
“All academics involved have suggested what
their skill set is so we have a really good idea who can do what. If it’s
something incredibly specific like health economics for example, there may only
be quite a small pool of people who can contribute to that. But for things like
evidence synthesis most academics are able respond to these requests. The
emphasis at the minute is ensuring that we’re able to provide good enough
evidence to help with decision making in a rapid responsive way.”
Nicki also suggested how
the work could benefit future collaborative research opportunities:
“I think it’s really innovative and supportive
to our NHS colleagues. It also potentially creates further questions that could
be researched later.”
The evidence syntheses are being regularly updated and are openly available here.
Professor Julie Mytton
Julie Mytton is a Professor of Child Health and a member
of HAS’s Centre for Health and Clinical Research. She has specialised in public
health research since 2006, with a particular interest in injuries and injury
prevention. She is also a qualified medic.
Julie is one of many other UWE academics working with the
Centre for Public Health and Wellbeing who are receiving calls for work from
the CCG (via Nicki Walsh). She has also been in contact with University
Hospitals Bristol NHS trust, and as a medic has joined their bank staff, providing
clinical care support as and when needed.
Julie also noted that there is a Public Health Registrar,
Alasdair Wood, based at UWE to offer further support.
Professor Jonathan Benger
Jonathan Benger, a Professor in Emergency Care
and a Consultant in Emergency
Medicine at the University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust, has
been released from his current clinical and academic duties, at the request of
the National Medical Director, to assist in leading the national response to
Coronavirus in his role as interim Chief Medical Officer at NHS Digital.
Professor Jo Michell
Jo Michell is an Associate Professor in Economics. His
current research interests include macroeconomics, money and banking and income
distribution. As soon as the nationwide lockdown was announced, Jo co-wrote a paper
for the journal Autonomy outlining
orderto cope with the increasingly severe reduction in economic activity in
the UK, guaranteeing the incomes of all those who are eligible for in-work or
out-of-work benefits is rapidly becoming a necessary policy lever.”
This idea was picked up by
John McDonnell (the then Shadow Chancellor), and it’s possible it may have played
a role in influencing Rishi Sunak’s (the Chancellor) subsequent announcements. A
follow up letter by Jo and 97 other economists was penned to The Times, and published on Monday 23rd
March, “insisting that the government goes
significantly further in its economic response to the Covid-19 crisis.”
Professor Matthew Jones
Matthew Jones is Associate Professor in Public Health. His research specialises in the contribution that third sector and civil society initiatives make towards promoting public health and wellbeing. Mat and other colleagues in the Centre for Public Health and Wellbeing (CPHWB) have authored a report entitled Apart but not Alone: Neighbour Support and the Covid-10 Lockdown.
Carried out in Bristol and the West Country between 6th-12th April 2020, over 500 respondents reported back on neighbourhood initiatives during lockdown restrictions. A whole range have sprung up in recent weeks: social media support groups, food and medication collections, telephone calls, Zoom chats, leafleting. Interestingly, many neighbourhood groups were already in place before formal local/national efforts had been mobilised.
Of those who responded,
the overwhelming majority felt that neighbours were supporting each other well.
Mat Jones et.al did note however contrasting answers from those based in areas
of high social disadvantage, with an emphasis on such neighbours supporting
people with financial difficulties, those with disabilities or mobility issues,
and people without easy access to outdoor spaces.
Perhaps most noteworthy were the gender in-balance
responses (80% female):“an
important issue is whether the practical and emotional work of supporting
neighbours is falling disproportionately on women.”
Professor Sue Durbin
Sue Durbin is Professor in Human Resource
Management and is a member of the Centre for Employment Studies Research in
FBL. Sue has researched and written on gender and employment, specialising in
women who work in male dominated industries. She is a
co-founder, along with Airbus, the Royal Air Force and the Royal Aeronautical
Society, of the altamentoring scheme, a bespoke industry-wide mentoring
programme designed for women/by women. Mentors and mentees can connect to this mentoring
platform online or in person.
It is within the context of Covid-19 that alta can be seen to play a crucial role,
with existing and new members utilising its online tool. Indeed, the value of
online mentoring has never been so important, as Sue explains:
“It may become a time for mentors and mentees to
take stock of where they are in their careers and where they would like to go.
can therefore best be utilised via the alta platform, at a safe distance but
offering comfort and advice to women who may be feeling especially isolated,
vulnerable or lacking confidence if their roles have been furloughed. Or they
may simply want to reach out and turn the current situation into a more
“During the current pandemic, the restrictions on movement and new ways
of working remotely have resulted in a physical disconnect from family, friends
and colleagues. For those who already have an established mentoring
relationship, this can be a crucial source of support, facilitating an
opportunity for both mentor and mentee to discuss concerns and keep connected
during this unprecedented time.”
In January, the Research Impact team hosted a two day writing retreat for selected academics from UWE Bristol.
The retreat was the last one in a series of away days that have taken place since last June for the different faculties at UWE Bristol.
The two-day retreats allow academics to think about their research case studies away from campus enabling them the opportunity to fine tune and edit their work.
The impact team helps the academics to fine tune their work so that it is in a good position to submit for the Research Excellence Framework 2021.
All four retreats have been extremely well received, with glowing feedback from attendees:
“Very many thanks for organising and initiating for us such a brilliant retreat. It has made a huge difference to me – I would never have made this progress without it!” Participant A
“The experience has been really excellent (and I know others have said the same). The structure, information, advice, hospitality and good humour that the RBI team provided was exceptional. As a result it was possible – in bite-sized chunks – to get tuned into the specifics of what was needed and then review and revise the case study material as well as getting critical feedback on it in near real-time.” Participant B
“I found the structure and flow of activities well-structured and relaxed, which is exactly what was needed to get us talking to each other and working on our case studies. Thank you for not ‘forcing’ us into unnecessary “workshop standard” activities, which usually involve flip-charts, felt-tip pens and post-it notes! This is an element I’m always dreading in mandatory workshops/seminars and not having it, is what made me feel more comfortable and got me concentrating on the task at hand.” Participant C
Read some of UWE Bristol’s Research with Impact Case Studies here
From 20th – 25th January, the driverless
pods were at The Mall, Cribbs Causeway transporting members of the public,
enabling them to experience connected and autonomous vehicles (CAVs) and
understand how they might operate in the future.
Capri is a consortium comprising 17 partners, including lead
organisation AECOM, South Gloucestershire Council and UWE Bristol. The Capri
trial is the first in the UK without this level of supervision, inviting
members of the public to turn up and travel alone in the autonomous pod.
The research used in this trial will help reduce potential
barriers limiting the uptake of commercially ready autonomous vehicle services.
This also includes overcoming technical challenges, raising public awareness
and ensuring sustainable integration into the wider transport systems. This
pilot will support the local and UK economy by helping regional and national
businesses become more competitive in a growing international market.
[Photo (L-R): David Huson (UWE), Richard Lamb (Innovate UK), Jed Leonard-Hammerman (UWE), Dr Russ Bromley (Knowledge Transfer Network]
UWE Bristol are currently working on a twenty-seven month
Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) with Craven Dunnill Jackfield. Founded in
1872, Craven Dunnill Jackfield (CDJ) has since produced ceramic wall and floor
tiles in the oldest surviving purpose-built tile factory in the world, based in
The KTP will introduce a range of 3D digital fabrication
technologies to innovate the design and modelling process for specialist
ceramic tile production and architectural restorations. We spoke to Jed
Leonard-Hammerman, who is the KTP Associate leading the project:
What attracted you to
the KTP role?
Lots of things, but mostly the opportunity to work with a
university whilst gaining paid experience with a company.
How is the
partnership between UWE and the company working?
Really well! We meet monthly to discuss progress and I spend
most of my time at the Company but visit UWE about once a month to use the
facilities and catch up with my Supervisor. It’s great working alongside and
learning from the experts at both UWE and Craven Dunnill Jackfield.
What are the current
challenges of your role?
Implementing ideas that have never been tested is quite
daunting but also really exciting!
What do you enjoy
most about your job?
I love managing the project, having the freedom to direct it
and plan how my time is spent as well as the budget. I get to visit a lot of
trade shows and exhibitions and enjoy speaking to industry representatives
about applying their technology to the ceramics industry.
What do you think
about the support available from UWE and the Company?
It’s great! My project is split into three elements (3D printing and CAD/ceramics/finance and project management) and I get all the support I need from my Academic Supervisor, the team at CDJ and the KTP Team at UWE. I’ve also had a lot of extra support from the Centre for Fine Print Research at UWE, particularly Walter Guy who has given up his time to show me how to use technical equipment.
To find out more
about the Knowledge Transfer Partnership opportunities at UWE, visit our
Researchers at UWE Bristol are supporting the North Bristol
NHS Trust to develop a device that can diagnose urinary tract infections (UTI)
in a few minutes. The project, funded by
the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR), could avoid instances when
doctors prescribe antibiotics as a precautionary measure while waiting for test
The device, which will be about the size of a domestic
toaster, is to be developed within the University’s Institute of Bio-sensing
Technology. It will work using a cartridge that contains antibodies to common
UTI bacteria, and a protein indicating when an infection is present. A small
volume of the patient’s urine sample is poured into the cartridge, which is
then placed in the new detection device, after which a diagnosis can be made
Professor Richard Luxton, who is co-Founder and Director of
the Institute of Bio-sensing Technology at UWE Bristol said: “As well as
speeding up the diagnostic process, this device is aimed at minimizing
inappropriate prescription of antibiotics and hence supporting the aim of
reducing antimicrobial resistance.
“Currently it can take up to three days to get a result
for a urine sample sent to a microbiology laboratory. If the patient has
ongoing symptoms, the GP will sometimes prescribe antibiotics before the result
is back. This could be harmful to the patient, and also to the community at
Professor Marcus Drake, Consultant Urologist from North
Bristol NHS Trust and project Principle Investigator, said that as well as
being slow, such methods are sometimes unreliable. “The new device will
detect the infecting bacteria directly, giving a reliable indicator of the UTI.
Current dipstick type tests measure chemicals in the urine that suggest
bacteria may be present, but these are not sensitive and may miss an
infection,” he said.
The development of the diagnostic device is in its early
stages and the project duration is scheduled for three years to develop a
prototype, and do a preliminary test with real urine specimens. Over a following
three-year period, researchers will then further develop the diagnostic system
to bring it in line with regulations, with a plan for the device to then be
used in clinical trials.
Following this, the researchers hope to make it available to
the NHS for use in GP surgeries for patients with suspected UTI.