Engineering theme led: Robotics and autonomous systems (Postdoctoral, Early and Established Career stages)

Robotic and autonomous systems (RAS) are interactive, cognitive and interconnected tools that perform useful tasks in the real world where we live and work. These decision-making systems with varying level of autonomy will be part of our response to national challenges: an ageing population, safer transport, efficient healthcare, productive manufacturing, and secure energy. EPSRC wishes to support fellows working on the demonstration of RAS technologies in real situations and the basic research that will underpin advancements across the field.

This priority area covers the engineering elements in the design and testing of robotics, automation and autonomy, using new materials and incorporating sensory feedback and control and systems engineering. Including, as they contribute strongly to the aforementioned, robot control, artificial intelligence, image and vision computing, human computer interaction, natural language processing and real time communications networking. It covers fundamental underpinning RAS research and RAS designed for a specific application.

EPSRC has recently made substantial investments in this area, with capital and doctoral student funding across the UK to support and strengthen research. This fellowship priority area recognizes the critical importance of complementing this and other investments by building the UK’s capabilities through support for talented people. Through our fellowship support EPSRC will mobilise talent and stimulate career progression along the career path from the post graduate, early and established career stages.

In the case of applicants at the Post-doctoral career stage, exceptional candidates with independent research ideas, and the potential to lead, inspire and influence are sought. For Post-doctoral and Early Career Fellowships, EPSRC would like to encourage an element of research training as well as active research. This could be explored through the use of secondments from the host university to other research centers of excellence both within and beyond the UK in the chosen specialty.

Critical to this will be support for leading academics to push the RAS agenda forward, to make new collaborations, to source wider research expertise, to overcome technical and regulatory barriers, and to engage with industry partners who will utilise these technologies.

All RAS fellows must show consideration of the following points in their application:

  • consider the impact of their research and address possible barriers to market adoption and implementation.
  • create public awareness and engagement in the issues surrounding RAS deployment. Reflect on EPSRC’s recently published Responsible Innovation framework and integrate appropriate working approaches into their fellowship application.