Mafic, an innovative information company based at the Surrey Technology Centre near Guildford, has won a grant from the national SPRINT (SPace Research and Innovation Network for Technology) programme. Mafic will work with SPRINT partner, the University of Southampton on a major project to develop new machine learning solutions for heavy industries such as shipbuilding, rail, and oil and gas construction.
This technology will enable the real-time communication and analysis of data from remote locations to improve the productivity and industrial health of workforces.
The £4.8 million SPRINT programme provides unprecedented access to university space expertise and facilities to help businesses develop new commercial products for space and other key sectors.
Mafic will work with the University of Southampton to exploit established space-based technology for data collection and transmission, as well as developing new machine learning architectures that demand lower computational power and narrower bandwidths. This will allow the technology to be more readily deployed into field devices (Internet of Things) through satellite communication technology and become less dependent on terrestrial forms of communication.
Mafic’s technology will be incorporated into wearable devices worn by the workforce as well as positioned on vehicles and materials. From the machine learning architecture positioned on these devices, it will be possible to understand the location and activity of each member of a large workforce/fleet of vehicles/materials at all times and for this data to be used to make better decisions by site management, leading to a more efficient production line and healthier workforce.
Will Woodhead, Managing Director at Mafic Limited said: “As a start-up, we’d pushed the technology as far as we could but needed to effectively prove the technology to take it to customers. The company is part of the SetSquared infrastructure and after previously engaging with another SPRINT partner, the University of Surrey, we came to hear about the SPRINT programme and what it could offer.
“Getting investment was difficult so SPRINT funding was ideal and will allow us to work with the University of Southampton to help us to improve the machine learning and architecture elements of the project.”
“The SPRINT project will enable us to increase the accuracy of our machine learning architecture to reach 90 per cent plus, allowing us to confidently take the product to market. We will build an advanced machine learning architecture to fit onto devices with 5G chips to facilitate real-time, satellite-driven communications.”
Dr Long Tran-Thanh, from the Computer Science department at the University of Southampton added: “The Mafic project is ideally aligned with one of the University’s core research offers – using Artificial Intelligence to help to improve people’s lives. The first steps are to look at analysing the data, testing our technical knowledge before moving on to exploratory research that will help Mafic to enable its software to detect activities in an industrial environment. This level of proven data analysis and research from the University is a real differentiator between working with an industry or academic partner.”