Common Vision Shared between Sony and University’s Research Centre
The University of Wales, Newport was recently awarded a Prince of Wales Innovation Scholarship (POWIS) by striking an innovative partnership with the University of Wales Global Academy, in cooperation with Sony UK’s Technology Centre.
The POWIS award will fund a dedicated researcher to work at Sony for three years to develop their technological capabilities while, at the same time, studying for a PhD under the academic supervision of the University. It will cover all tuition fees and an annual stipend of £20,000 (3 years) plus a one-off research grant of £5,000.
In forming this faction, both the University’s Cognitive Robotics Research Centre and Sony UK gain access to a high calibre scientist with cutting-edge ideas who will help to drive research and business forward.
Andreas Panakos from Greece, a graduate of Electronic and Computer Engineering from the Technical University of Crete, is the scholar chosen to embark on this particular project – he begins this month.
The research project, initialised by the Sony UK Technology Centre, located in South Wales, aims to develop an automated product inspection system using pioneering vision recognition technology to inspect products by measuring a number of significant features of components - this includes size, colour, pattern, 3-dimension shape and temperature. An essential aspect of the project is to develop an intelligent machine learning algorism to allow extension of the system to other applications to inspect a wide range of products and components.
The so-called Common Vision Platform (CVP) project, if completed successfully, could potentially deliver a number of benefits to manufacturing. For instance, by replacing manual product inspection with an automated system, the accuracy of product inspection is no longer heavily reliant on the performance of individual workers and therefore improves the quality and reliability of the process. Additionally the CVP system carries the capacity to greatly reduce training and labour cost as it makes product inspection much easier thus allowing skilled resources to be redeployed to other value added activities within the manufacturing process.
The Cognitive Robotics Research Centre at the University of Wales, Newport is a highly successful research centre located within Newport Business School, which is coordinated by Dr. Torbjorn Dahl. It studies different aspects of intelligence and intelligent behaviour with an emphasis on intelligence in robots and automated systems.
Sony is a leading global manufacturer of audio, video, communications and information technology products. It established a Welsh manufacturing plant (Sony UK Technology Centre) at Pencoed in 1992, officially opened by Her Majesty the Queen. Sony UK Technology Centre manufactures high technology broadcast, professional cameras and camera systems for the world-wide market. In addition, it repairs a range of high street and professional products. In the past few years, Sony UK Technology Centre has been collaborating with a number of high-tech companies to develop and manufacture new products, by providing product design, procurement, circuit board manufacture, product assembly, product testing, logistics and after sales service.
The University of Wales Global Academy has specifically designed POWIS to bring the private sector together with bright graduates from around the world and academic expertise from both within Wales and around the globe. Launched in 2009 by HRH The Prince of Wales, the POWIS scheme, which is part funded by the European Regional Development Fund, and investment from the University of Wales itself, has an £11.4M budget with which to encourage Welsh companies to undertake collaborative R&D innovation projects.
Sony UK Technology Centre General Manager, Gerald Kelly, spoke of his enthusiasm for the project:
“Here at Sony, we’ve always believed in long-term business partnerships, particularly with academia. Having a POWIS scholar on board is a fantastic opportunity to get support from academia over a period of 3 years, which we are confident, will help us achieve our goals for this project. I wholeheartedly support the POWIS project and look forward to a long and fruitful collaboration.”
Professor Marc Clement, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Wales, added:
“We are delighted to be working with Sony and with Newport’s Cognitive Robotics Research Centre on this pioneering project. This collaboration underlines the critical importance of the work we are undertaking with Welsh industry through POWIS, which is designed to benefit not only individual students and companies, but the Welsh economy as a whole.”