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building a brighter future for all

We're exploring how new technologies can improve our ever-complex world

Led by Professor Adrian Hopgood, Professor of Intelligent Systems, our Future and Emerging Technologies research is helping make the world a better place.

We're making significant breakthroughs and developing new technologies. We're finding sustainable, cost-effective ways to transform our knowledge into action.

Explore the groups within the Future and Emerging Technologies theme

Robot hand at University of Portsmouth

Expertise in Artificial Intelligence (AI) at the University of Portsmouth

The University of Portsmouth’s Artificial Intelligence and its Practical Applications (AIPA) Cluster brings together diverse areas of expertise in the development and use of AI from across the University. 

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has long been an active and exciting branch of research. Now more than ever, AI is in the spotlight as a technology that is about to make a significant impact on all aspects of life.

AI’s practical applications touch us all on a daily basis, and its effects spread across a whole range of societal and industrial sectors. From health and wellbeing to entertainment, from business and logistics to manufacturing and engineering, recent and ongoing advancements in the field mean that businesses and industries are increasingly looking at the ways that AI research can be used to innovate the workplace and society in general.

Strategic alignment

The launching of the Cluster has come at an exciting time for AI and its development and application. The UK Government’s Industrial Strategy sets out four grand challenges (aimed at putting the UK at the forefront of the industries of the future), the first of which places the UK firmly in the vanguard of the AI and data revolution.

The work carried out at the University of Portsmouth on AI fundamentals lends itself well to the Government’s strategy, but there is also scope for the development and application of AI to transform business models across a variety of sectors and industries.

The Industrial Strategy’s three other grand challenges (tackling the prospect of an ageing population, the desire for UK industry to shift towards clean growth, and the future of mobility) are all likely to be increasingly influenced by the developments in AI. This means that the AIPA Cluster is strategically well-placed to support cross-disciplinary collaboration, as well as encouraging external projects and partnerships, thereby stimulating economic growth within the wider community.


The AIPA Cluster aims to consolidate capability in the development and use of AI across the University of Portsmouth. It brings together dispersed colleagues with expertise in AI techniques or an interest in the application of AI in their own disciplines.

“Expertise in AI at the University is dispersed among areas where it can make a positive impact, from business to health and from engineering to the arts. I am excited about the AIPA cluster as it brings together those practical perspectives and our fundamental AI research specialisms in a coordinated manner. AIPA comprises more than 50 academics across the disciplines. The diffuse nature of the University’s expertise could have been a weakness, but AIPA turns it into a strength.” – Professor Adrian Hopgood, Theme Director, Future & Emerging Technologies

By bringing together such a spectrum of experience and expertise in the development and use of AI, the Cluster helps to provide coherence and coordination to the University’s research and innovation objectives. It helps to build cross-disciplinary linkages, facilitate external partnerships, and attract AI-related funding.


The AIPA Cluster has been set up with two key aims in mind: the development of tools and the development of applications.

Development of AI tools:

  • knowledge-based intelligence
  • computational intelligence
  • machine learning
  • big data
  • agents
  • hybrids

Development of AI applications for: 

  • health and wellbeing, incl. the ageing population
  • sustainability and the environment, incl. transport and logistics
  • security and risk, incl. ethical considerations
  • democratic citizenship, incl. education, governance, and management
  • future and emerging technologies, incl. physics & cosmology

Gosport ferry port. Portsmouth


The cross-faculty Intelligent Transport Cluster unites innovators and users with academics across the faculties of the University, to address the challenges of business and society and promote long-term competitiveness in Land, Air and Marine transport systems.

The cluster builds on more than 10 years of collaboration with the Connected Places Catapult (and its precursors). As well as developing and promoting emerging intelligent techniques to drive the UK's Intelligent Mobility market, the cluster aims to develop world-leading innovative technologies and solutions to build smart, safe, sustainable and efficient transport systems fit for the cities of the future.

Industrial strategy: Grand challenge on the future of mobility

The cluster will contribute to the Industrial Strategy and the Future of Mobility Grand challenge to improve the way we move people, goods and services around towns, cities and countryside. For example, the UK’s road and rail network could dramatically reduce carbon emissions and other pollutants. Congestion could be reduced through higher-density use of road space enabled by automated vehicles. Mobility could be available when we want it, where we want it and how we want it.

Strategic alignment

The cluster will make an outstanding contribution in driving research and innovation excellence in transport at the University. It falls under the thematic areas of ‘Sustainability and the Environment’ and ‘Future and Emerging Technologies’. It will contribute to the implementation of the University's strategic priorities and its aspirations in raising its profile and reputation. It builds on more than 10 years of collaboration with the Connected Places Catapult (and its precursors) to develop and promote emerging modelling techniques to drive and promote the Intelligent Mobility market in the UK.

Meeting the market need

The central South-Coast region is home to the UK’s largest marine & maritime sectors The Solent area alone generates over 10% of the sector’s UK GDP. The marine sector represents one of the most important commercial, research and innovation clusters in the world, worth an annual £3.5 billion. The sector currently accounts for 20.5% of the gross value added with the region providing 48,000 jobs locally and supporting over 3,000 businesses. Over the next 12 years this sector is projected to grow by 5% in the region, driven in part by key assets such as the ports of Portsmouth and Southampton, Portsmouth Naval Base and the South Coast Marine Cluster.

Our research covers the following topics:

  • Logistics and freight transport
  • Maritime Logistics
  • Railway transport
  • Air transport
  • Sustainable transport
  • Passenger mobility
  • Travel behaviour and human factors
  • Autonomous systems
  • Economics modelling
  • Cyber-security

Case studies

AntsOnDeck: Route Optimisation for Autonomous Vessels

AntsOnDeck (AOD) is a tool that navigates an unmanned autonomous surface vessel using a meta-heuristic, known as Ant Colony Optimisation (ACO). ACO rapidly generates viable routes considering a wide variety of environmental factors; generates optimal autonomous routes in dynamic and complex environments with balanced optimisation across multiple user driven parameters – fuel efficiency, risk, time windows, etc.; real-time rerouting for collision avoidance or environmental conditions (wind, current, sea state).

Intelligent Gatelines

Intelligent Gatelines is a project funded by Rail Safety and Standards Board (RSSB) in collaboration with Cubic Transportation Systems (Lead Partner), Transport for London(TfL), Arriva UK Ltd and Connected Places Catapult(CPC). The intelligent gateline project developed and operationally demonstrated an intelligent gateline controller that is capable of automatically self-reconfiguring to maximise peak throughout while preventing station overcrowding.

The proposed intelligent gateline controller implements the following tasks: (1) Identify flow of people within the station environment, and learn to predict the crowds before they arrive at the gateline; (2) reconfigure the direction of individual walkways in a safe and controlled manner, freeing the staff at the gates to engage and support customers. It informs and aids staff to make operational decisions on gate configuration or temporary station closure, which if sub-optimal, adversely affect network capacity, safety and customer experience.

Windfarm Autonomous Surface Project (WASP)

WASP is a joint industry project set to explore the technical, regulatory and societal issues of using autonomous surface vessels, integrated with existing manned shipping operations, to support offshore wind farm operations and maintenance. The goal of the project is to develop a timeline for the phased introduction of autonomous vessels. The project is part funded by Innovate UK and led by L3Harris and in partnership with the Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult, SeaRoc Group, Houlder and University of Portsmouth.

As part of the project, L3Harris have developed the autonomous control system to tackle the challenges presented by the operation of autonomous vessels in the constrained environment of a wind farm. ORE Catapult have developed the use cases and validation of the cost savings created by the project. SeaRoc Group have extended the SeaPlanner software to assist with the monitoring and operation of autonomous vehicles and the introduction of cargo planning systems. Whilst the University of Portsmouth have developed the logistics management analytics, route planning of the autonomous vessels and the health monitoring system.  Houlder have developed the vessel concept design and an innovative handling system to enable autonomous cargo transfer.

Smart Port Cities

The Smart Port Cities project aims to develop a Smart Port Cities Platform to support a range of applications. Initially, focused on air quality the platform will provide a long-term framework for addressing wider challenges. It will also support decision making agents including city authorities, operators, regulators, the port and surrounding communities with information services and innovative solutions for a wide range of operational, environmental, economic and social challenges. Satellite derived communications and earth observation information, ground data and sensed systems will be combined with the BD processing, analytical capability and presentational tools to support decision-making. The goal is to turn multi source, disparate data sets into actionable intelligence. The infrastructure and service will be based on open, standards-based, flexible, modular systems creating a generic capability that can be used in port cities.


Professor Djamila Ouelhadj, Director of the Intelligent Transport Research Cluster


Aerial view of University of Portsmouth


In October 4th 1957, Sputnik 1 was successfully launched and entered low earth orbit. The first artificial satellite collected and relayed data for 22 days before the batteries were finally drained of power, propelling the world into a new era dominated by rapid technological advances.

More than 60 years later, we have almost 2000 active satellites orbiting the planet enabling many aspects of our daily lives. How we navigate our environment, observe our world and communicate with friends and family has been transformed by space technology.

Satellite technologies play a vital role in a wide-range of industry sectors; transforming businesses in areas as diverse as Healthcare, Media, Education, Construction, Environmental Resource Management, Tourism and Agriculture. The potential opportunities resulting from satellite data and technologies are vast with many companies recognising the value from a range of satellites, including those focused on earth observation, GPS and communication.

Since 2000, coordinated industry and government actions have trebled the size of the space sector, which now supports 14% of UK GDP – approximately £250bn – and is set to grow.

The South Coast Centre Of Excellence In Satellite Applications

The University proudly hosts the South Coast Centre of Excellence in Satellite Applications (SCCoE), one of five regional Centres located across the UK supported by the Satellite Applications Catapult and the UK Space Agency, and created to help businesses and academics explore and exploit satellite technologies to truly realise the ‘possible’.

Supported by a large consortium of academic, industrial, government and third-sector partners, our mission is to promote the continued exploitation of space services in order to allow the South Coast region to gain a competitive advantage in a global market.

Working closely with businesses wanting help and advice to break into the satellite applications industry, we aim to minimise innovation risk for SMEs. We are able to help:

  • develop collaborative projects
  • link expertise
  • identify and attract funding
  • share information
  • provide network opportunities

We're especially keen to embed and grow satellite applications in Transport & Logistics, Autonomous Systems, and Offshore Assets while utilising cutting-edge technological developments in Artificial Intelligence, Earth Observation & Navigation, and Communications. Whatever the challenges or opportunities that lie ahead for your business, we can help.


For further information please contact Louise Butt, Business Development Manager of the South Coast Centre of Excellence in Satellite Applications.

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The University of Portsmouth is proud to host the South East Regional Ambassador for the European Space Agency (ESA) Business Applications Programme. Tom Greenwood is one of a team of 7 UK Ambassadors representing the programme with the goal of ‘bringing space down to earth’.

Space offers many opportunities and solutions for businesses and has the power to improve our everyday lives on Earth. It is the role of the Ambassador Network to support businesses to realise these opportunities and grow new commercial services that harness the power of Space by creating awareness within relevant stakeholder communities and acting as an honest broker between ESA, industry and end-users to stimulate the generation of ideas and submission of proposals.

Programme Description

In ESA Business Applications our aim is to show that space is open for business and has the power to improve our everyday lives on Earth. We do this by helping companies to integrate space data and technology (GPS navigation, Earth Observation and Satellite Communication for example) into commercial services.

Of particular interest are applications that promote the use of space technology to previously ‘untapped’ consumer markets. ESA Business Applications seeks to fund innovative new services developed for these markets, which could provide major benefits to society and the economy. 

Successful applicants receive:

  • Zero-equity funding (from €60k to €2M+ per activity)
  • A personalised ESA consultant
  • Technical & commercial guidance
  • Access to our network of partners
  • Credibility of the ESA brand


If you're a business based in the South East region and would like to know more about this programme or how to apply for funding, please contact Tom by emailing, by calling (0)23 9284 5525.

Research areas

Many of the University's research areas cover the areas of Future and Emerging Technologies, including:

Research features

Explore our features for a snapshot of our recent research work in this research theme.

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