Cutting-edge research into mobile autonomy

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In 2010, Professor Paul Newman, at the University of Oxford, became an EPSRC Leadership Fellow. Paul leads the Oxford Mobile Robotics Group (MRG), which is at the cutting-edge of UK research into driverless technology. The fellowship gave him the opportunity to take projects forward on a number of levels from establishing essential industrial links with partners such as BAE Systems and Nissan to setting up a spin out company Oxbotica. It also gave Paul the chance to contribute to the Department for Transport's review on driverless vehicle technology.

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Professor Paul Newman - University of Oxford

How can you have a vehicle, a robot, a driverless car, go out into the world and operate for a long period of time without needing any help from humans?  I wanted to build something quite substantive in terms of a research presence here in the United Kingdom.  I took a sabbatical to write the grant, wrote it and won it, and it changed everything after that.

It allowed me to engage in something that was way beyond what I would have been able to do if I’d been having a normal academic life.  In that we built the United Kingdom’s first driverless car and stuck it on the roads back in 2012 and since then it’s been a rocket ride.  From that we’ve got three sites now, we’re exporting that technology around the world and it’s not just the cars.  This is really interesting, we’re running it in mines, we’re running it in quarries, we’re running it in ports, we’re running it in fields and we’re running it in warehouses.  We’re doing personal mobility and even have it on Mars.

It’s been a really extraordinary thing, in the way that I went from the fundamental research and the time spend in doing that, starting a company and then, in the university, have now started to grow the Oxford Robotics Institute, so that story continues from that foundational period. 

If you are considering going for a Future Leaders Fellowship, do.  Do it!  It is going to change people’s lives. It’s going to be quite extraordinary, the opportunity that this technology will bring us.