Sensing Technologies

Academic Contact: Pete Culmer
Academic staff: Dr Ali Alazmani, Professor Pietro Valdastri, Dr Pete Culmer, Dr Andrew Jackson, Dr Andrew Kemp, Dr Des McLernon, Dr Nutapong Somjit, Dr Syed Ali Raza Zaidi, Dr Zhiqiang Zhang, Professor Andrew Bayly, Professor Ian Robertson, Professor Megan Povey, Professor Shane Xie, Tim Amsdon
Clinical Collaborators: Venkat Subramanian, David Russell, Heidi Siddle, Matthew Gardiner

Sensing technology is a key part of developing and advancing state-of-the-art robotic systems. At Leeds, we have expertise in developing a range of sensing modalities including sensors developed for biomedical applications (supporting our medical robotics theme), applied ultra-sound systems, distributed sensor networks and multi-modal sensor processing.

We develop and apply these technologies through world-leading research facilities, links with key industry partners and close clinical collaboration with Leeds Teaching Hospitals.

The main research themes in Sensing Technologies at Leeds are (1) Soft Sensors, (2) Millimetre-Wave Sensing Systems (3) Distributed sensor networks (4) Ultrasonics

Soft Sensors

In this research we are developing soft, low-cost, robust sensors which can be used to interrogate the force response of highly compliant materials (i.e. biological tissues). The research combines experimental and computational strands; we are developing novel physical sensing platforms using soft robotic techniques and optimising their configuration for a variety of applications using inverse-model based computational techniques, made publically available through our ‘soft sensing toolkit’.

We are currently developing sensors based on magnetic, optical, inductive and electrochemical transducer techniques and applying these systems to address healthcare challenges, for example assessment of diabetic foot ulcers and hand rehabilitation.

Sensor Fundamentals

The School of Electronic & Electrical Engineering at Leeds has an extensive range of relevant expertise in sensors that is being applied to new challenges in robotics and autonomous systems. As an underpinning technology, our expertise is being applied in all the key application areas of Robotics at Leeds. Our research includes microwave and millimetre-wave sensing, Internet of Things networks, distributed sensing, through the wall and drone-based radar, wearable sensors and body sensor networks (BSNs) for cyberphysical systems. Many robotics applications need knowledge of sensor position and in many cases specific networked solutions that are reliable, low power and efficient. Our research includes wireless sensor networks (WSNs), positioning systems, the analysis and improvement of localization techniques, energy efficiency and QoS in WSNs using optimal routing algorithms and protocols, and sensors integrated into clothing for applications in transport, the creative industries and Industry 4.0.

Ultrasonic Spectroscopy

Development of low power (< 10 W m− 2) ultrasound spectroscopy is being undertaken as an enabling technology for food science at Leeds (e.g. for the characterisation of food colloids with respect to particle size distribution, adiabatic compressibility, particle solvation and dissolution). These methods also have broader application within robotics, particularly in supporting the development of innovative robotic systems for healthcare (tissue assessment) and field robotics (through in situ material analysis).

Case Studies

The development of soft sensing systems is an ongoing theme in the Surgical Technologies Research Group to enable us to address healthcare challenges with innovative soft robotic technology.