Sensing a good weld: new applications in computer vision (2015)

  • Meta Vision Systems equipmentMeta Vision Systems supplies unique sensing and control equipment from its Oxford base to customers around the world, for welding applications that range from rocket nozzles in China to offshore wind towers, earthquake proof beams, and oil pipelines. Now a KTP project with Oxford Brookes University is to develop a new generation of smart inspection systems that will capitalise on Meta’s market leading position and help the company meet growing industry demand. 

    Dr Fabio Cuzzolin

    Dr Fabio Cuzzolin is the Oxford Brookes Reader in Computer Science whose world-recognised research on computer vision and machine learning will help to create the new systems. He will supervise a new recruit, the KTP Associate, who will work with Meta Vision’s R&D team to develop algorithms that can be built into the company’s existing products and give them new capabilities. 

     ‘It’s a really interesting problem’, says Fabio. ‘There are many, many variations in weld quality, and what counts as acceptable can vary from one application to another, and even from one customer to another. We have to build a system with specially developed algorithms that are capable of being tailored to individual needs. What we need in effect is a learning system that will be able to carry out inspections better than a human.’

    Meta Vision Systems was formed in 1984 as a spin-out from an engineering research project at the University of Oxford, which developed and patented laser sensors to guide robot welding. Today, with 40 people in Oxford, Munich and Montreal, Meta works internationally with major companies in sectors as diverse as automotive, aerospace, robotics and general fabrication. Creating the new systems will ensure it stays in tune with customer needs well into the future. 

    The new partnership secured Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTP) funding from Innovate UK, the UK’s innovation agency, to the value of almost £100k. ‘We have high hopes for this project’ says John Corlett, KTP Manager at Oxford Brookes. ‘It’s an ideal combination of a successful company and leading university research, that has the potential to create an innovative product with great commercial value.’

    To find out more about KTP with Oxford Brookes University, contact ktp@brookes.ac.uk or telephone 01865 484204.