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The Institute for Safe Autonomy (ISA) is located on the University of York's Campus East.

This £15m purpose-built facility combines a range of experimental laboratories in robotics, advanced communications and quantum technologies, providing indoor and outdoor research and test spaces for autonomous systems operating on the ground, underwater and in the air.

The ISA building is designed to enable testing to move in phases from a highly controlled laboratory setting, to shared indoor office environments, and eventually to semi-controlled and open outdoor spaces. This ‘living lab’ has automated doors, wide corridors and a high-capacity lift to enable robots and autonomous vehicles to move freely throughout the building. There is also WiFi and networked internet access, including separate networks for robotic and autonomous systems.

Contact us

If you would like to discuss hiring our facilities or working collaboratively with ISA, please contact us.
+44 (0)1904 324766

Exterior of the Institute building from the air

Campus setting 

In addition to the open-air testing facilities we have on-site (such as our Outdoor Test Space and Rooftop Lab), ISA also benefits from our unique setting on the University of York’s 116 hectare Campus East. The campus allows for semi-controlled testing of air, land and water-based systems, enabling development work to progress gradually to more challenging environments. ISA also has preferential access to remote testing sites, including those suitable for large unmanned aircraft systems (drones).

A 193 kWp solar farm is currently being built alongside the ISA building, which will be combined with Internet of Things technology to allow ISA to achieve net zero for energy by 2025. The photovoltaic arrays will form part of ISA’s ‘living lab’ for the development of new robots and AI technologies for array inspection and maintenance.

Collaborative working

The ISA building was designed to facilitate collaborative working with our partners in academia, government, industry and the nonprofit sector, and offers bespoke meeting and events spaces such as:

  • Flexible office and collaboration spaces for over 100 researchers
  • Meeting rooms with a capacity of two to ten delegates (equipped with docking stations and AV systems for hybrid meetings)
  • Seminar room for 45 delegates with multi-camera Poly video-conferencing system and 86 inch touchscreen display
  • Events space ideal for exhibitions and industry roadshows, which can comfortably welcome 100 guests.

Laboratories and test spaces

ISA’s purpose-built facilities include a six-metre high indoor test space, a quantum communications research centre, rooftop labs and an 18,000-litre water tank.

Find out more about our laboratories and test spaces

Robots and autonomous systems

ISA and our partners have access to a wide range of Robots and Autonomous Systems, including:  

  • Humanoid robots such as Pepper and Nao
  • Robotic arms and collaborative robots from Universal Robots and Rethink Robotics, along with a wide selection of end effectors and sensors
  • Unmanned aerial systems, such as the DJI Matrice 300 RTK (with various payloads, including thermal camera), Mavic 3T (with thermal camera), Phantom 4 (multispectral), and several smaller drones.
cabling, trunking and lighting in a laboratory ceiling

Technical equipment and resources

Technical equipment and specialist resources available within ISA include: 

  • Fabrication Lab for additive manufacturing, including Ultimaker S5 FDM printers, a Formlabs Form 3L SLS resin printer, large bed laser cutter, a 3D-scanning system and a wide-format printer
  • Technical Workshop with soldering and surface mount assembly, electronics bench equipment, microscopes, fire-safe lithium battery charging and storage 
  • AV and environmental sensing equipment including thermal cameras, near field infrared cameras, indoor and outdoor LIDAR sensors, gimbal systems, microphones and backdrops
  • Large portable screens
  • Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality headsets and computers.

Our laboratories, test spaces, specialist equipment and resources are maintained by the highly-qualified ISA technical team, who are available to support all research and industry projects.