UCL News


UCL Business helps 'SnakeGrid' software solve challenges in railway engineering

26 November 2008


Receiving award ucl.ac.uk/iris/browse/profile?upi=JCILI49" target="_self">Dr Jonathan Iliffe
  • UCL Business
  • A local co-oordinates mapping solution developed by UCL's Dr Jonathan Iliffe (UCL Civil, Environmental & Geomatic Engineering) is expanding into new markets following considerable success with Network Rail.

    The software, which was awarded £9,500 in proof of concept (POC) funding from UCL Business, provides an innovative solution to a significant problem in engineering surveying, namely the design of a coordinate system that has minimal scale factor and height distortion even when projects extend for many hundreds of kilometres.

    SnakeGrid was originally conceived in 2005, as a result of a consultancy project between Dr Iliffe and Network Rail in connection with the development of the West Coast mainline. The success of his work has led to further licence agreements to develop SnakeGrids for a number of rail projects.

    Having undergone a number of enhancements over three years, the SnakeGrid technology now has applications that reach well beyond railways.

    Dr Iliffe approached UCL Business to investigate the options available to develop the program further, and to consider the commercial opportunities that might exist for the technology. 

    Dr Iliffe said "I am delighted with the success of SnakeGrid; what started as a challenging consultancy project with Network Rail has developed into a product with real commercial potential. The support provided by UCL Business has been instrumental in helping to develop the software further and explore other markets."

    Stephen Hiscock, Business Development Manager responsible for UCL Civil, Environmental & Geomatic Engineering, provided POC funds to implement changes in design and program structure of SnakeGrid and is actively seeking commercial applications in highways and pipelines.

    Mr Hiscock said "SnakeGrid is an impressive solution to a frustrating problem in surveying. The latest version of the software has already been used in the surveying of the Dublin to Cork railway line in the Republic of Ireland, which is currently being upgraded to permit high speed trains, and negotiations are underway for the use of the software in major infrastructure development projects in the UK and around the world."

    In recognition of Dr Jonathan Iliffe's outstanding contributions to the civil engineering surveying industry and to the science of geospatial engineering, he was awarded The Richard Carter Prize (Geospatial Engineer Award) 2008 from the Institution of Civil Engineering Surveyors at their annual dinner at the House of Commons, October 2008.

    To find out more about Dr Iliffe and UCL Business, use the links at the top of the article. 

    Image: Dr Iliffe receiving his award (pictured right)