UKRI Trustworthy Autonomous Systems Programme - Town Hall meeting

Increasingly, engineered systems will make decisions, and take actions, autonomously. The common feature of autonomous systems, such as self-driving cars, drones, robots, and a variety of ‘smart’ systems, is that they can make key decisions, and often take decisive actions, without direct human intervention.  Autonomous systems are already being developed and deployed across industrial sectors in controlled conditions, and they have the potential to address many of the challenges that society faces and to drive economic growth. However, their wider adoption will ultimately be limited if people (be they engineers, regulators, or users) do not trust that their operation will be safe, reliable, resilient, unbiased and ethical. Put simply, if people do not trust autonomous systems they will not engage with or use them. 

To ensure that autonomous systems are trustworthy and can be adopted and used, fundamental and highly multidisciplinary research is needed into their design, development, curation, verification and validation. Research will need to tackle key technical, social, regulatory, legal, and design challenges to ensure that autonomous systems can be developed to be safe, reliable, resilient, ethical, trustworthy and ultimately deployable, to support the long-term development of autonomous system technologies for the long-term benefit of society.

In this context, UKRI is planning to invest up to £33m in a multi-disciplinary research programme focussed on Trustworthy Autonomous Systems (TAS). It is anticipated that the TAS programme will be composed of a central Hub that will provide coordination and leadership, and several research focused nodes, each led by a multidisciplinary team and with a responsibility to undertake in-depth fundamental research into a key challenge within trustworthy autonomous systems.

Ahead of this significant strategic activity, UKRI is holding a one day Town Hall meeting on 18 October at the De Vere Grand Connaught Rooms in London, WC2B 5DA, between 10:00 and 15:30 approximately.

At the Town Hall meeting UKRI aims to inform the community of the details of this activity, explain the planned approach to investment and bring together stakeholders from a broad range of disciplinary backgrounds to build new connections and generate new ideas.

UKRI anticipates that this area and event is likely to be very popular, and hence we are unlikely to be able to accommodate everyone who will want to attend. We wish to be clear that attendance at this Town Hall meeting will not be a pre-requisite to apply for funding, nor will attendance guarantee subsequent funding. All attendees will be expected to share the information from the Town Hall meeting with colleagues in their institutions and broader networks to ensure that broadest possible engagement with this investment across stakeholders and disciplines. Presentations used at the Town Hall meeting will be published alongside the call documents.

To register your interest in attending this Town Hall meeting please complete the online expression of interest form below, fully answering all the questions within the form. The deadline for applications is 16:00 on 3 October 20019. The information provided through the form will be used by an internal UKRI panel and used to select the attendees for the workshop, ensuring balanced representation across all research communities, institutions and sectors and based on the following assessment criteria:

  • Relevant expertise
  • The ability to work collaboratively and as part of a group
  • The ability to work at the interface between disciplines
  • The ability to approach fundamental research creatively
  • Ability and willingness to disseminate the information gained at the Town Meeting

Read more about Strategic Priorities Fund projects on the UKRI Strategic Priorities Fund webpage.

De Vere Grand Connaught Rooms, London WC2B 5DA

The following documents: Presentation Slides, Nodes Brief, Frequently Asked Questions and Summary of Discussions were added on 29 October 2019: