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EPSRC UK-RAS Network Launches Key Whitepaper On State-of-the-Art In Legged Robotics  

UK Festival of Robotics concludes with major report launch, plus announcement of UK-RAS Network Award winners for research excellence and community contribution

London, United Kingdom, July 8th 2022—The UK Festival of Robotics 2022 has concluded with the launch of a major new whitepaper exploring the state-of-the-art in legged robotics – aimed at inspiring future research, promoting collaboration, and engaging stakeholders and policy makers in this rapidly advancing area. The report, “Legged Robotics: Agile and Dynamic Interaction”, was formally launched at the EPSRC UK-RAS Network Committee Event held in Leeds on Friday 1st July, and is available to download and share here: https://www.ukras.org.uk/publications/white-papers/legged-robotics-agile-dynamic-interaction/

This comprehensive whitepaper provides an authoritative technology brief and overview of the international perspective, and outlines the current challenges and strengths of UK legged robot research – highlighting key areas of research excellence, including in oil and gas facility inspection, monitoring nuclear radiation, learning-based motion planning, teleoperation of legged manipulators, and humanoid robots for manipulation and interaction. The paper concludes with a number of key recommendations for future directions and investment, based on an analysis of existing capabilities, with the aim of guiding stakeholders and policy-makers to accelerate innovation.

Commenting on the report launch, EPSRC UK-RAS Network Chair Professor Robert Richardson said: “Until recently, legged robots were imaginations of science fiction or, at best, clumsy demonstrations in research labs. Research in the UK and overseas has developed legged robots to the point where they move smoothly and confidently over rugged real-world terrain to undertake tasks. The potential for legged robots to be the primary form of robot in the future is certainly an exciting possibility, and we hope this white paper will inspire technology advancement and new innovation partnerships, and identify priority areas for future growth in this fascinating area of RAS.”

The event also saw the announcement of this year’s UK-RAS Network Award winners:

  • UK-RAS Rising Star Award: Winner – Fanta Camara

For outstanding achievements in academic research, technology transfer and engagement

  • UK-RAS Early Career Award: Winner – Dimitrios Kanoulas

For exceptional individuals in the early stages of their academic career, who have made an outstanding contribution in robotics and autonomous systems

  • UK-RAS Impact Award: Winner – Danail Stoyanov

For partnership, collaborations, and/or transfers of knowledge or technology between academia and industry

  • UK-RAS Community Award: Winner – Chris Melhuish
    For excellent community-building activities in the RAS community and beyond.

Professor Robert Richardson commented: “The strength of our Network resides in the really extraordinary individuals and teams that make up the UK-RAS community, and we’re delighted to be able to recognise some of these outstanding researchers in this year’s UK-RAS Network Awards. Our warm congratulations to all of this year’s nominees and winners.”

The annual UK Festival of Robotics is hosted by the EPSRC UK Robotics and Autonomous Systems (UK-RAS) Network, which provides academic leadership in robotics and coordinates activities at over 30 partner universities across the UK. The Festival is a national showcase of the very best of UK innovation in robotics, automation and intelligent systems, aimed at engaging, inspiring and informing people of all ages across the UK. This year’s 7-day celebration, which took place from 18th – 24th June 2022, delivered a full programme of online and in-person events, spanning robot lab livestreams, careers discussions, and exclusive public open days – with topics ranging from self-driving cars and driverless trains, to space robots, smart drones, and robotics for extreme environments.

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Notes to editors:
About the UK-RAS Network Award Winners 2022

Fanta Camara – Rising Star
Fanta Camara recently completed her PhD at the Institute for Transport Studies (ITS), University of Leeds, and is now a Post-Doctoral Researcher in the School of Computer Science, University of Lincoln. During her time in Leeds, she founded and chaired the Robotics at Leeds Post-Graduate Researchers’ Network from Nov 2017 to May 2022. Prior to that, she obtained her Diploma in Robotics Engineering (Master’s level) from Sorbonne University (ex- Université Pierre et Marie Curie, UPMC), Paris, France, and was an exchange student at National Taiwan University, Taipei, Taiwan. Fanta has also had several industry work experiences as a robotics developer. Fanta published over 15+ refereed journal, conference and workshop papers and was selected for Robotics: Science and Systems (RSS) Pioneers 2022, a “cohort of the world’s top early-career researchers” in robotics. Her current research interests include self-driving cars, human-robot interaction, game theory, computer vision, AI and virtual reality. 

Dimitrios Kanoulas – Early Career
Dimitrios Kanoulas is UKRI Future Leaders Fellow and Lecturer in Robotics and Computation at the University College London (UCL) Department of Computer Science. He is leading the Robot Perception and Learning (RPL) lab (https://rpl-as-ucl.github.io), working on perception and learning for legged robots or robots with limbs. The main focus of research is how to endow legged robots with perceptual environment understanding to navigate safely, robustly, and meaningfully in uncertain, rough environments.

Danail Stoyanov – Impact
Dan Stoyanov is a Professor of Robot Vision in the Department of Computer Science at University College London, Director of the Wellcome/EPSRC Centre for Interventional and Surgical Sciences (WEISS), Royal Academy of Engineering Chair in Emerging Technologies and a Fellow of the Institution of Engineering and Technology. Dan is also Head Scientist at Digital Surgery, Medtronic, and Co-Founder of Odin Medical, both companies specialising in developing AI products for interventional healthcare. Dan first studied Computer Systems and Electronics at King's College London before completing a PhD in Computer Science at Imperial College London where he specialised in medical image computing. He works on vision problems in minimally invasive surgery especially related to non-rigid structure from motion, scene flow and photometric and geometric camera calibration. His work is applied towards developing image guidance, computational biophotonic imaging modalities and quantitative measurements during robotic assisted minimally invasive procedures

Chris Melhuish – Community
Chris Melhuish, BSc, MSc, PhD, CEng, FIET, FBCS is the founding member and ex-Director of the Bristol Robotics Laboratory (BRL), a collaborative partnership between the University of the West of England and the University of Bristol, and home to the UK’s largest academic centre for multi-disciplinary robotics research. In this role Chris held professorial chairs at both Universities. Chris has been a driving force in the establishment of the TIMR and TAROS UK robotics conferences. His research interests include safe human-robot interaction, energetically autonomous robots, haptics and swarm systems. He has published over 250 peer reviewed papers and led numerous UK and EU research projects. He has acted as an advisor to the UK Government and been a member of the European Commission’s Future Emerging Technologies and ISTAAG committees and working groups. He has briefed UK ministers and EU Ministers on Robotics at the European Parliament, and served as an expert at planning meetings for the EU Future Emerging Technology (FET) programme and EU Public Private Partnership in Robotics. Chris was a leading voice in getting robotics included in the Governments ‘8 Great Technologies. He was an Executive Board Member of the Robot Companions Flagship Coordinated Action and is a lead partner in the EU funded Echord++ initiative, which addresses research translation between Universities and industry. Chris currently served on the Robotics and Autonomous Systems advisory committee (RAS-SIG) under Innovate UK, and contributed extensively to the recently published UK robotics strategy.

About the EPSRC UK-RAS Network (https://www.ukras.org.uk)
The EPSRC UK Robotics and Autonomous Systems Network (UK-RAS Network) is dedicated to robotics innovation across the UK, with a mission to provide academic leadership in Robotics and Autonomous Systems (RAS), expand collaboration with industry, and integrate and coordinate activities at eight Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)-funded RAS capital facilities and Centres for Doctoral Training (CDTs) across the country.

PRESS CONTACT:
Nicky Denovan
EvokedSet
Email: nicky[@]evokedset[dot]com
Phone: +44 (0) 118 328 2782

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