Our Research

We take a fresh approach to the challenges facing society by bringing together world-class experts from art and design, human factors, engineering, computer systems and business studies into one focussed Institute. Our work covers automotive, aerospace, maritime and rail transport modes and allows us to take the lead in cross cutting research developing new forms of transport, new forms of manufacturing and new forms of information provision and security.

We have a unique position in UK universities – with over 140 research staff and 120 PhD research students in the Institute capitalising on our links with Coventry City and its status as a European Living Lab for transport and our close collaboration and joint initiatives with major stakeholders such as Unipart, FEV and Horiba MIRA.

We are working in exciting times with major challenges being presented by the move towards increased automation, the increasing age and urbanisation of our population, new materials and manufacturing processes and by the need to move towards sustainable non-polluting transport as quickly as possible. Current hot topics for us include developing new materials for wearable technology, driverless unmanned and vertical take-off vehicles, mobility as a service, systems security and new business models for the future supply chain.

To address these challenges, we have taken three major initiatives in 2017. In May, we opened the new National Transport Design Centre that provides state of the art design tools and studios for developing future vehicles and provides a fantastic opportunity to work directly with commercial companies taking concepts through to real products. In June, we opened a new joint initiative with Horiba MIRA called the Centre for Connected and Autonomous Automotive Research (CCAAR) that puts us at the forefront of research into the changing nature of highly automated and intelligent vehicles. In November we opened the Centre for Advanced Low Carbon Propulsion Systems C-ALPS.

These new developments complement the existing research facilities within the Institute (e.g. driving and aircraft simulators, control engineering laboratories, electric motor test beds, fuel cell thermodynamics) and our real-world environments and vehicles.

The Institute also includes our multi-award winning Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering Institute (AME). Partnered with Industry, and set up in 2013, we have a proven track record of 100% employment for our industry-ready manufacturing graduates, and commercialisation of several new technologies for lightweight and low/zero carbon powertrain applications.

We encourage you to browse our projects, news, events and academic profiles. Please check back to our site area that we will be updating on a regular basis.

OUR RESEARCH THEMES AND GROUPS

We have 13 research groups, which are:

Our groups are divided into six key themes.

Design

Coventry University can trace a direct line of design heritage from the formation of a Design Institute in the city in 1843. Strong links to the automotive industry led to the development over 40 years ago of automotive specific design courses and we now deliver the largest undergraduate transport design course in the world, with alumni in every major manufacturer and design house. The Institute builds on that background to bring together experts in design, biomechanics, human system integration, ergonomics, big data, artificial intelligence and machine learning to research and develop future systems.

Design Groups

Materials and Structures

Our materials research lies at the lower end of the Technology Readiness Level (TRL) scale (1 – 4) and focuses on Safety-critical applications. These include Improvements in safety, development of novel analytical methods, full component analysis, nano-scale mechanical properties, fundamental mechanistic understanding and methods for improvement in lifetime. By understanding in-service material behaviour and fatigue, we can support businesses in gaining competitive advantage and producing superior and more cost-effective products with longer lifespans. 

Our largest research area is Structural Integrity, where we model the properties of materials under different stresses typical of applications such as airframes or nuclear reactors, apply novel treatments such as laser shock peening to make materials less prone to cracking, and use advanced instrumentation to test the properties of materials. 

The Functional Materials group works on applying novel materials in engineering applications and also looks at changing the properties of materials using chemical treatments. They can, for instance, make fibres in clothing fabrics conductive, allowing sensors to be built into the clothes we wear.

The Materials Mechanics Measurement group researches techniques for measuring material properties from nano-indentation and atomic force microscopy, opening up the possibilities of non-destructive measurement of materials properties, and the generation of nano-engineered materials.

Materials and Structures Groups

Systems

This is a major activity in the Institute bringing together multi-disciplinary teams in large scale projects that have very strong links to industry.

Systems Groups

Manufacturing

Our manufacturing research lies at the higher end of the TRL scale (5 - 8) and comprises three themes. Specific Manufacturing Processes includes Plating & Coatings, Welding & Joining, Laser Processing and Metal Forming. Enabling Manufacturing Technologiesinclude Robotics and Automation together with Metrology and Quality. Future Manufacturing Technologies includes Industry 4.0, IoT, Big Data and Digital Process Control Systems.

The Laser Manufacturing and Engineering team sits between the materials science and the manufacturing process research; it studies the laser processes needed to carry out laser shock peening, conducts research into changing the properties of thin materials and the surfaces of bulk materials, and looks at the processes required to optimise laser welding. The latter crosses over into research in Welding, Joining and Additive Manufacturing which not only provides the knowledge required to join new or thinner materials but also models joining processes so that understanding the influence of changes in a multitude of joining parameters can be fully understood.

The Future Manufacturing researchers have a successful record of applying novel techniques such as fuzzy logic in the modelling of activity flows in manufacturing processes and of optimising industrial collaboration and accessing services such as energy usage monitoring by effective use of the internet. Our reseachers are now bringing together expertise from around the University to conduct research in modelling all aspects of manufacturing processes and applying a range of sensors to physical processes so that the performance of process against model can be continuously monitored and machines can become more autonomous. These are the cyber-physical systems that constitute what has been branded the 4th Industrial revolution, bringing in demands for processing big data, determining data integrity and ensuring cyber security.

Manufacturing Groups

Supply Chain

Our supply Chain theme includes staff from both Engineering and Business disciplines, delivering world class research with impact, as well as undergraduate and postgraduate teaching. The Supply Chain and Logistics sector is changing fast, with new innovative business models frequently disrupting the established norm, in many cases driven by technological advances. In particular the use and availability of large quantities of data provide opportunities to tailor solutions and create new business models. Our centre aims to identify future trends and opportunities, and lead the way in implementation of new solutions, improving services and reducing environmental impact of logistics, as new smart city models emerge. We take a holistic view, considering whole life impact of products and services, to strive for an integrated and responsible circular economy, to create what is future competitive on a global basis.

Supply Chain Groups

Business Environment

Lying at the heart of the UK’s automotive design, manufacturing and racing heritage and alongside major global brands, the university has a long association with the motor industry. Research staff from the Centre for Business in Society (CBIS). Twenty academics including core CBIS staff, associates and research students form an automotive interest group who are adjunct members of the Institute and provide business expertise in our large cross disciplinary projects.

Our strategic drivers for disruptive innovation and change for future transport and cities include:

  • New business models and the changing landscape
  • Innovative and lean supply chain management
  • The adoption of autonomy and electrification
  • Consumer resistance to new technologies and managing consumer behaviours
  • The impact on society of innovation in transport
  • The automotive renaissance in the economy
  • The transport R&D landscape and success factors
  • Motorsport research and manufacturing excellence
  • The sustainability agenda and implications for the ttransport industry
  • Transport policy, regulation and societal impact.
Business via the Centre for Business in Society