Research at IAS - Our Mission


The primary mission of IAS is to work out the underpinning mechanisms required to create robot systems which behave intelligently without human supervision, that is, act autonomously. Of course, this assumes that we really understand what intelligence is, what autonomy is and what, for that matter, a robot is. We all use these terms but if we reflect on it each of these categories of, intelligence, autonomy and robot ends up being very difficult to exactly ‘pin-down’ - there seem to be exceptions - ‘yes - but what about so-and-so is that still a robot - and each question leads to more questions - for example; does a system have to have intelligence to act intelligently? Is energetic and computational independence enough for a system to be considered autonomous? Do robots have to be made from discrete mechatronic units or can they employ different exotic materials - perhaps biologically derived materials?

Currently research to answer some of the above questions is carried out in 8 broad areas;

• Learning
• Chemical controllers
• Energy Autonomy and new energy sources
• Space Robotics
• Implementing Neurophysiology in silicon
• Collective Systems
• Ant based intelligence
• Control theory

This demands a multi disciplinary approach and the lab members include computer scientists, roboticists, microbiologists, biologists, electronic and mechanical engineers.

IAS is situated in a large building with a powered floor arena and a flying arena. Our work is supported by three full time technical support engineers and is sponsored by industries including BAE Systems, Shell UK, SEA, SCISYS, Hewlett Packard, British Telecom and agencies such as EPSRC.

Professor Chris Melhuish,

Director of Intelligent Autonomous Systems Laboratory