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. These systems have varying levels of decision-making autonomy and will be part of our response to encourage national prosperity. This includes the development of more effective interventions in health and social care; safe and efficient transport on land, sea and air; productive manufacturing; and secure energy through a well-maintained and resilient infrastructure.

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.

Therefore, this priority area covers the engineering elements in the design and testing of robotics and autonomy. This may include novel research in control engineering or new materials for such a system, artificial intelligence, image and vision computing, human computer interaction, natural language processing and real time communications networking. 

EPSRC has 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 who will lead in the area of Robotics and Autonomous Systems. Through our fellowship support EPSRC will mobilise talent and stimulate career progression along the career path across the Post-doctoral, 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, to engage with the public to better inform about the topic and counter hype, 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 Responsible Innovation framework and integrate appropriate working approaches into their fellowship application.

It is recommended that those wishing to apply for a RAS Fellowship contact the Robotics portfolio manager to confirm that your project idea is within remit.