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Lab-based prototype for automated train fluid servicing

Funded by the Department for Transport through Innovate UK, with support from the Rail Safety and Standards Board and Chiltern Railways, this project has built a lab-based RAS demonstrator for train fluid servicing - "Cyberfluids 1".

The project was led by industrial partner TBG Solutions Ltd and was demonstrated to more than 30 senior executives from various rail companies.

Original scope of project:

  • Investigate a proof of concept robotic autonomous system - Determine requirements for hose coupling (on existing trains)
  • Investigate robot types and suitability
  • Robot end effector (gripper) design
  • Carry out mechanical alignment and robustness testing

Expanded project scope:

  • Design and build a laboratory demonstrator with autonomous capability
  • Demonstrate concept to industry/potential funders
  • Provide test-bed for further innovation (e.g. wheel sand delivery system)

The next stage of the Cyberfluids research will be to build a depot-based demonstrator that will more fully show the rail industry the commercial potential of this technology.

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Meet the Principal Investigator(s) for the project

Professor Mark Atherton
Professor Mark Atherton -   Mark is now an Honorary and Emeritus Professor of Mechanical Engineering in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, previously being full Professor of Mechanical Engineering Design. He is a Chartered Engineer and Fellow of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers. He has developed industrial products and manufacturing systems, including dental drill noise reduction (Dental drill noise reduction device), robotic servicing of trains (Lab-based prototype for automated train fluid servicing) and design tools for invention (On-line tool to intelligently interpret design information contained in patents). Mark taught engineering design and design optimisation. Background BSc(Hons) in Mechanical Engineering from Aston University, Birmingham. MSc/DIC in Industrial Robotics and Manufacturing Automation from Imperial College, London. PhD in Mechanical Engineering Design from City University, London. Industrial experience: apprenticeship with Rubery Owen, followed by engineering positions with Driver Southall (GEC), Otis Elevator, and Redland Engineering. Academic posts at London South Bank University and Brunel University London, plus visiting professor at Tokyo University of Science and University of Modena. Chartered Engineer, Fellow of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.

Related Research Group(s)


Design and Manufacturing - Developing products, services and manufacturing processes that will deliver economically and environmentally sustainable solutions, based on design principles derived from an understanding of human capabilities and limitations.

Partnering with confidence

Organisations interested in our research can partner with us with confidence backed by an external and independent benchmark: The Knowledge Exchange Framework. Read more.

Project last modified 17/06/2021