Stephen Salter

Born 1938

Stephen Salter

Engineering Achievements

Stephen Salter's long career includes being part of the team that developed Freddy the robot in Artificial Intelligence at the University of Edinburgh – the first intelligent robot with tactile manipulator (as designed and built by Stephen).

Stephen was the inventor of the touch screen (apparently in parallel with others) using a Perspex sheet over a CRT for recognising a pre-verbal child’s reactions to visual stimuli.

He is the inventor and developer of the Edinburgh Duck, commonly known as the Salter Duck wavepower device, inventor and designer of the absorbing wavemaker, needed to test wavepower devices, now used globally. He is co-inventor of Digital Displacement Hydraulics initially needed for the power take-off of wavepower and wind turbines now being applied to all manner of off-road, construction and materials handling machinery.

Stephen is co-inventor of water bag blast attenuation systems for reducing the radius of evacuation during unexploded bomb defusing or disruption.

He is the inventor of autonomous cloud-making ships to increase cloud density and alter the albedo of the planet to reduce global heating.

Stephen Salter has developed plans for the yachts, which would be propelled by 60ft high vertical rotors. Known as Flettner rotors, these interact with the wind to propel the yacht, acting like sails, but with far greater efficiency. The yachts would drag two 3m-diameter turbines that would generate the electricity to spin the Flettner rotors and spray water droplets from their tops. 


Stephen is a teacher and mentor to many of the leading Scottish engineers and Entrepreneurs who have gone on to develop renewable energy devices and systems.

  1. 1938 Year of birth
  2. early career Instrumentation engineer on first hovercraft and on Black Knight - the UK's rocket project
  3. 1967 Research Fellow, University of Edinburgh, working on artificial intelligence in robots
  4. 1973 Lecturer at Edinburgh University begins work on wave energy
  5. 1974 Invents Salter's Duck
  6. 1977 Built first multi-directional wave tank equipped with absorbing wavemakers.
  7. 1984 Appointed to a personal chair in engineering design at Edinburgh
  8. 2004 Awarded MBE for services to engineering
  9. 2009 Joins Aquamarine Power (developer of Oyster wave energy converter) as technical adviser
  10. 2012 Receives Royal Academy of Engineering’s Sustained Achievement Award
  11. 2021 Inducted into the Scottish Engineering Hall of Fame
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