Jan 18 2021

Professor Sara Bernardini, Department of Computer Science, has made a contribution to a new BBC Radio 4 series 39 Ways to Save the Planet. Professor Bernardini appeared in the episode on offshore wind on Friday 8 January. We recently caught up with Professor Bernardini to ask more about the episode and where we could listen to it. 

1. Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your role in the Department of Computer Science?

I am a professor of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the Department of Computer Science. I am also the Director of the MSc in AI and the Diversity and Equality Champion for my department. My research focuses on designing and engineering intelligent and autonomous systems (e.g., drones, robots, underwater vehicles, etc.) for complex, real-world applications and lie at the intersection between different areas: artificial intelligence, advanced robotics and mathematical optimisation. My expertise is on cutting-edge technology for challenging environments. I have worked in several domains, including space mission operations, nuclear decommissioning, mining, underwater operations, surveillance, offshore energy and disaster response.

2. You recently appeared in the BBC Radio 4 series 39 Ways to Save the Planet, can you tell us about the episode you are in?

The episode I participated in is about how AI and robotics can help with generating renewable energy. In particular, I discussed my research in the context of the project MIMRee (https://www.mimreesystem.co.uk/), which aims to develop the world’s first fully autonomous multi-robot system for the inspection, maintenance and repair of offshore wind farms. In the episode, we introduced the listeners to the BladeBUG crawler, which is a legged robot that can walk up and down a turbine’s blade to carry out inspection and maintenance tasks. I also presented the audience with mission planning, which is a set of techniques to coordinate the behaviour of a team of robots that need to cooperate to reach a common goal.

 3. How did you first come to hear of the series?

I was contacted by the program’s producer, Alisdair Cross, who came across the work we are carrying out in the context of the MIMRee project and was enthusiastic about it. The BBC Radio 4 series is about how to save the planet, and he was keen to dedicate an episode to cutting-edge technology that can support renewable energy.

4. Where can people listen to it?

The episode is available at the following page: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m000qywr

and on my webpage: https://www.sara-bernardini.com/media

5. What is your favourite thing about working at Royal Holloway?

The work environment in my department is very friendly and informal. It is always a pleasure to discuss my research and projects with my colleagues and the students and receive their valuable feedback. In addition, I love our wonderful campus. I truly miss working in my office surrounded by nature and artistic buildings. Hopefully, we can go back soon!

6. How are you spending your time outside of work currently? 

I am a very sporty person; I love walking, running, dancing and Pilates. I try to do at least two of those activities every day! I also read a lot of books, mostly classics, and watch indie movies.