Four UK universities have received a £4m grant to develop sensor systems for use in smart cites, Internet of Things (IoT) networks, big data collection and driverless cars.
Imperial College London and the universities of Glasgow, Liverpool and St Andrews will work together on the Science of Sensor Systems Software (S4) project, where they will share expertise in computing, engineering and mathematics.
The universities will also work with a range of public and private sector partners, although who this will be is still to be determined.
The grant has been awarded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and will fund the project until its end in 2021.
The money will be used specifically to develop new principles and techniques for sensor system software so that scientists and policy makers can make better use of data harvested from sensor networks.
S4 also aims to improve the accuracy of answers and data gleaned from expanding networks of sensors by improving the reliability of the systems.
The research could result in improved sensor systems for water networks, air quality monitoring, autonomous driving and precision manufacturing.
Professor Muffy Calder, head of the College of Science and Engineering at the University of Glasgow and professor of formal methods in computing science, will lead the project along with senior academics from the other universities.
Calder emphasised that the project will look for a more unified approach to get the most out of the growing number of networked sensors being deployed.
“Although sensors are becoming ever more commonplace in all kinds of devices around us and in our everyday lives, sensors themselves and the environments in which they operate are very uncertain. We don’t have a unifying science to ensure that the systems and the information they provide are resilient, responsive, reliable and robust,” he said.
“By the end of the project the team will have answered a number of fundamental questions about how to design, deploy and reason about sensor-based systems, developing new principles, techniques and tools, alongside simulations and physical sensor test beds for experimentation.”
Calder added that the project will involve finding a variety of use cases for any new techniques that the project yields.
More unified sensor systems would remove the fragmentation seen in the IoT as it expands, which analyst house Gartner predicts will remain until at least 2018.
Gartner explained that the IoT is important for the enterprise world, providing companies have a clear business strategy before diving in, and that more research projects relating to the IoT will grow in parallel with the prevalent technology trend.
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