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Revolutionary Research: Tracking Robots at The Institute for Safe Autonomy

Updated: Feb 16

Yorkshire is home to some of the UK’s most advanced institutions, and at the University of York, The Institute for Safe Autonomy (ISA) is at the forefront of cutting edge research.

Image of the lab and a ground robot

Within newly built specialised laboratories, The ISA is performing research in the field of robotics and autonomous systems. This is focused on how we can ensure the safe use of robotics, artificial intelligence and autonomous systems, currently in use and in development across multiple industries. As part of this research, Dr James Hilder, Senior Technical Team Manager, got in contact with Target3D.


In contacting Target3D, Dr Hilder was seeking to increase the size of an OptiTrack camera system

Paul installing a camera on a rail
Due to this being an upgrade, it was important to make sure that the new cameras would fit seamlessly into the current system

already in operation. The team’s research currently focuses on how they can effectively replicate a GPS system in order to track ground, aerial and water based robots.

This is not an unusual request, but variable environments require special consideration to ensure accurate configuration.

As well as this, multiple robots need to be tracked as their research requires them to be observed not only on their own but in large groups, adding a layer of complexity.

Finally, as part of the research necessitates an ability to view and record data from a central hub, the solution needed to include accessibility by any number of researchers with the option to export data in multiple formats.


Target3D’s Business Development Manager Ricardo Sidoli was the first point of contact for the upgrade project. In increasing the camera number, an initial site visit was performed to determine the best setup for the requirements. Ric and the installation team agreed that the system could be upgraded by installing a rail around the room, upon which 18 OptiTrack PrimeX 22 cameras were successfully mounted. Along with the specifications of the cameras, the lab’s 6-metre high walls provide a field of view that allows both ground and aerial objects to be accurately tracked. Switches were also installed to integrate the new cameras into the system already in use.

Furthermore, with OptiTrack’s Motive software, researchers can access data without being physically present in the lab. Remote operation and data exporting is essential for testing, as researchers need to continually evaluate how well the robots are performing.


Paul Roberts, Samuel Malady and Tom Sands from Target3D’s installation team successfully completed the project, concluding with additional training on using the system. The ISA team is ready to commence their research, with important topics like safety for automated vehicles, AI and cybersecurity currently in progress at the institute. As research continues, there is also the possibility of expanding the system once again, into an additional space within the lab.

If you’re interested in the groundbreaking research currently underway at The Institute for Safe Autonomy, click here to stay up to date.


[Working with Target3D] was a pleasure from start to finish. We set a very challenging date because we had an end of year financial deadline. We left it quite late to initialise the discussions with them, but they assured us they would get the goods here and installed by the end of the financial year, and they were bang on.
For us, this OptiTrack system is crucial. It offers a consistent level of accuracy that is pivotal to the quality of our research. We’re looking forward to seeing where it takes us.

- Dr James Hilder

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