In this article we shine the spotlight on Konstantin Vikhorev, Senior Project Engineer at The Virtual Engineering Centre (VEC).
I’m a Senior Project Engineer and Simulation Team Leader at The Virtual Engineering Centre (VEC), managing a team of six people, I am the tech lead for simulation and data analytics projects. In addition to this, I am also researching new technologies.
VEC is a leading digital impact centre established in 2010 by the University of Liverpool, supported by EU funding and in partnership with BAE Systems and the National Nuclear Laboratory. We are cross-sector, focusing on areas such as digital transformation, design and engineering, deploying emerging research and intelligent digital technologies to improve and advance clients business capabilities.
I have a Dipl.-Ing degree in Control Engineering, which I studied in Moscow, at the Bauman State Technical University, a MSc degree in Mechatronics, from De Montfort University in Leicester, and a PhD in Computer Science from the University of Nottingham.
I was always interested in the aerospace sector. As a child I was fascinated with airplanes and space. My Grandma used to work at the local space museum, so I spent my childhood there, looking at the space capsules and rockets which impressed me even at five years of age! Later on I did a few piloting courses, and then I moved onto aerospace and developed an interest in Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) and automated control, very new and popular at that time. This led to my PhD in computer science where I focused on autonomous aircraft and systems.
I guess the variety of things I do, every time it is something new and it is never the same. At VEC my team run multiple projects across aerospace, automotive, energy, and FMCG, where we research new technologies and applications from IoT, to digital twins and Industry 4.0. We are also leading LCR4.0, a big project focused on transforming Liverpool city region businesses in the manufacturing space through digital innovation, which has proved very popular. I quite enjoy solving difficult tasks that have never been attempted before. Every time someone approaches us with a new problem, you just have to find a way to solve it - this is the most interesting aspect of my role that I enjoy. It’s never mundane or boring.
Previously I worked in research, undertaking a project with Volvo and Toyota based out of the UK, travelling to Sweden. This was where I was working on optimising their production facilities, taking into account energy consumption, and reducing their CO2 footprint to make them more sustainable. I joined VEC in March 2013, and have now been with them for six and a half years.
Technically it’s going to be at a high level. Autonomous systems are going to permeate our lives fast, and it will eventually become completely normal to have such systems in our lives. Its most likely going to be trains first, because it’s an obvious application for an autonomous system due to being on a moving, fixed path. This will be followed by ships, and autonomous cars. It might be down the line, but it will happen at some point.
There will also be closer integration of vehicles and traffic systems so they will become one big, automated system. We’re already seeing this in our homes, with automation of lights, heating, electrical appliances, etc. but it will be on a much larger scale. The city and its traffic will become integrated as one big system, especially with new goals to reduce emissions, this the only viable way to make this happen.
It would be a multi-tool for basic survival, as it needs to be something practical that I can use to survive and live. The next would be a GPS so I can find things on the map. The last choice would probably be my books and music and movies on some sort of device, for my entertainment!.