BathCamp #27

2nd November 2011, 8:00 PM

Innovation Centre

Robot Bodies and how to Evolve them

Robots have bodies, and bodies must obey the laws of physics. The behaviour of a mobile robot is the result of the physical interaction of the robot’s body and its working environment. In this talk I will introduce mobile robots and show how we design robot bodies. A powerful new approach is called evolutionary robotics. Inspired by Darwinian evolution it is a method for artificially evolving a robot to optimise its design. Illustrated with video clips of robots in action, and some real robots, I’ll explain how roboticists are evolving strange new robot bodies, and how you can do this yourself.

Alan Winfield is Professor of Electronic Engineering and Director of the Science Communication Unit at the University of the West of England, Bristol. He conducts research in swarm robotics in the Bristol Robotics Laboratory and is especially interested in robots as working models of life, evolution, intelligence and culture. Alan is passionate about communicating science and technology. He holds an EPSRC Senior Media Fellowship with the theme Intelligent Robots in Science and Society, and blogs about robots, open science and related topics at

The most dangerous game: Exposing sixth formers to power tools

Imagine back to the time when you were a sixth former: think about all the times when university students came into your school and put power tools in your hands and forced you to build robots? Sound familiar? No? I run a robotics competition for sixth formers that takes place over an academic year and involves building, programming and electronics. Madness you say? A flagrant disregard for health and safety? Maybe, but it’s awesome.

Sam Phippen is a Bristol based student, software engineer and computer scientist – or “student robo-creator-evangelist”. He blogs at

Thinking on Robot Thought

This will be a quick bash through how people thought AI could be solved, how robots proved them wrong, and what people have tried since:

“I’ll also give a quick review of my own efforts for helping programmers to help robots think (or as we like to call it “Systems AI”). My methodology is called “Behaviour Oriented Design”, and our tools are on Sourceforge waiting for cooler hackers that will move them to GitHub.”

Joanna J. Bryson has degrees in Behavioural Science (Chicago), AI (Edinburgh), Psychology (Edinburgh), and Computer Science (MIT). She has also worked in two primate cognitive neuroscience laboratories (Harvard & Edinburgh) and in industry for seven years, including finance (the 80s!! don’t shoot her), Object Oriented Reengineering (mid-90s) and manufacturing (LEGO, doing robots & virtual reality, late-90s).

Since 2002 she’s been “facilitating” AI at the University of Bath (the one on the hill).

RSVP over on Lanyrd