Stephen Salter (centre) with Win Rampen and Niall Caldwell before winning the MacRobert Award for Engineering, 2015

Stephen Salter

1938 – 2024

Stephen Salter

pioneer and inventor across many fields of engineering, notably in renewable energy from waves

Engineering Achievements

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

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

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

His Life

  1. 1938 Born on 7th December in Johannesburg, South Africa
  2. early career Instrumentation engineer on first hovercraft and on Black Knight - the UK's rocket project
  3. 1967 Age: 29 Research Fellow, University of Edinburgh, working on artificial intelligence in robots
  4. 1973 Age: 35 Lecturer at University of Edinburgh; begins work on wave energy
  5. 1974 Age: 36 Invented the Edinburgh (commonly known as "Salter's") Duck
  6. 1977 Age: 39 Built first multi-directional wave tank equipped with absorbing wavemakers.
  7. 1984 Age: 46 Appointed to a personal chair in engineering design at University of Edinburgh
  8. 2004 Age: 66 Awarded MBE for services to engineering
  9. 2009 Age: 71 Joined Aquamarine Power (developer of Oyster wave energy converter) as technical adviser
  10. 2012 Age: 74 Received Royal Academy of Engineering’s Sustained Achievement Award
  11. 2015 Age: 77 The Artemis Intelligent Power team of Stephen Salter, Win Rampen, Niall Caldwell, Pierre Joly and Uwe Stein win the MacRobert Award for Engineering for digital displacement hydraulics
  12. 2021 Age: 83 Inducted into the Scottish Engineering Hall of Fame
  13. 2024 Age: 85 Died on 23 February in Edinburgh
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