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Goodbye and a million thanks to Jackie Withey

At the end of September, Jackie Withey takes a well earned retirement. Students and Staff in the School of Computer Science will all miss you so much Jackie. Thanks a million for everything you have done. Please keep in touch with us!

At the graduation ceremony we held a little thank you ceremony.


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Graduation 2014 – Prizewinners

Well done to all graduates in the Class of 2014!!! We hope you enjoyed your day at the Cathedral.

After the ceremony we also gave out awards to our prize winners:


The Longhurst Prize (best project)

John McDonagh  (BSc Games Computing Level 3)

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Best Graduate in the School of Computer Science

Level 3 Daniel Lowe (BSc Computer Science)

Level 4 Thomas Glenn (MComp Computer Science)

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School Prize for Excellence in Project Work (two winners)

Keiran Hicks (BSc Computer Games Production Level 3)

Arne Ubelhor (BSc Games Computing Level 3)


Outstanding Contribution to the School of Computer Science

Ian Hansford (BSc Computer Information Systems Level 3)


Well done to everyone!

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Graduation 2014

Congratulations to every one of our graduates in the Class of 2014!

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‘Honeybee’ robots replicate swarm behaviour

Computer scientists have created a low-cost, autonomous micro-robot which in large numbers can replicate the behaviour of swarming honeybees.

Colias – named after a genus of butterfly – is an open-platform system that can be used to investigate collective behaviours and be applied to swarm applications.

Robotic swarms that take inspiration from nature have become a topic of fascination for robotics researchers, whose aim is to study the autonomous behaviour of large numbers of simple robots in order to find technological solutions to common complex tasks.

Due to the hardware complexities and cost of creating robot hardware platforms, current research in swarm robotics is mostly performed by simulation software. However, the simulation of large numbers of these robots in robotic swarm software applications is often inaccurate due to the poor modelling of external conditions.

Colias was created by a team of scientists led by the University of Lincoln, UK, with Tsinghua University in China. It has been proven to be feasible as an autonomous platform – effectively replicating a honeybee swarm. Its small size (4cm diameter) and fast motion (35cm/s) means it can be used in fast-paced swarm scenarios over large areas.

In comparison to other mobile robots which are utilized in swarm robotic research, Colias is a low-cost platform, costing around £25, making the replication of swarm behaviour in large numbers of robots more feasible and economical for researchers.

Farshad Arvin, from the School of Computer Science, University of Lincoln, was part of the research team which developed Colias.

He said: “The platform must be able to imitate swarm behaviours found in nature, such as insects, birds and fish. Colias has been designed as a complete platform with supporting software development tools for robotics education and research. This concept allows for the coordination of simple physical robots in order to cooperatively perform tasks. The decentralised control of robotic swarms can be achieved by providing well-defined interaction rules for each individual robot. Colias has been used in a bio-inspired scenario, showing that it is extremely responsive to being used to investigate collective behaviours. Our aim was to imitate the bio-inspired mechanisms of swarm robots and to enable all research groups, even with limited funding, to perform such research with real robots.”

Long-range infrared proximity sensors allow the robot to communicate with its direct neighbours at a range of 0.5cm to 2m. A combination of three short-range sensors and an independent processor enables the individual robots to detect obstacles.

A similar but more complex mechanism has been found in locust vision, where a specific neuron called the ‘lobula giant movement detector’ reacts to objects approaching the insects’ eyes.

Co-author Professor Shigang Yue, also from Lincoln’s School of Computer Science, previously created a computerised system which supports the autonomous navigation of mobile robots based on the locust’s unique visual system.

This earlier research, published in the International Journal of Advanced Mechatronic Systems (2013), could provide the blueprint for the development of highly accurate vehicle collision sensors, surveillance technology and even aid video game programming.

The next step for the Colias research team is to work on an extension of the vision module using a faster computer processor to implement bio-inspired vision mechanisms.

Full details of their research have been published in the International Journal of Advanced Robotic Systems.

The work is supported by the European Union’s FP7 project EYE2E, which aims to build international capacity and cooperation in the field of biologically inspired visual neural systems.

A video showing the swarming behaviour of Colias robots can be found at:

Farshad Arvin, John Murray, Chun Zang, Shigang Yue ‘Colias: An autonomous micro robot for swarm robotic applications’ International Journal of Advanced Robotic Systems
DOI: 10.5772/58730

Shigang Yue, F. Claire Rind ‘Visually Stimulated Motor Control for a Robot with a Pair of LGMD Visual Neural Networks’International Journal of Advanced Mechatronic Systems
DOI: 10.1504/IJAMECHS.2012.052219

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Science festival attracts prominent academics

Leading researchers in cancer treatment, retinal disease and the health benefits provided by companion animals will be speaking at a science, arts and heritage festival celebrating the area’s close connection with Sir Isaac Newton.

The Gravity Fields Festival, which takes place in Grantham, Lincolnshire, from 24-28th September 2014, pays homage to the world’s most influential physicist and mathematician, who was born and made many of his most important findings at nearby Woolsthorpe Manor.

Taking part in the packed five-day programme of events is Professor Nigel Allinson MBE, Distinguished Professor of Image Engineering at the University of Lincoln, UK, who leads a pioneering research consortium into proton beam therapy as a more effective radiotherapy treatment for thousands of cancer sufferers.

He fronts the ground-breaking PRaVDA (Proton Radiotherapy Verification and Dosimetry Applications) project, which aims to create one of the most advanced medical imaging systems ever imagined.

The patent-pending technology would enable clinicians to see in real time and in 3D how particles interact with a tumour during proton beam therapy – considered the Holy Grail of radiotherapy. It has the potential to make proton therapy safer and more effective.

The PRaVDA project is funded with a £1.6m grant from the Wellcome Trust and involves a multinational team of clinicians, physicists, engineers and computer scientists.

Professor Allinson’s talk, ‘Treating and Seeing Cancer with Protons’, will take place at 10.30am at the Angel and Royal Hotel in Grantham on Saturday 27th September 2014.

He said: “Reducing the uncertainty of where the proton dose is delivered from several centimetres to a few millimetres will allow difficult tumours to be treated and greatly reduce any dose to healthy tissue.”

The University is also staging an interactive display relating to the talk and technology as part of the festival’s science fair in The George Centre.

On Wednesday 24th September members of the public will have the chance to question leading science experts from around the UK as they debate the issues that will dominate our future.

Chaired by Justin Webb from BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, panellists include Professor Andrew Hunter (Computer Vision and Artificial Intelligence, and Pro Vice Chancellor University of Lincoln), Professor John Burn (Clinical Genetics, Newcastle), Professor Valerie Gibson (High Energy Physics, Cambridge and CERN), and Dr Melody Clark (British Antarctic Survey). Science Futures will take place at St Wulfram’s Church from 7.45pm.

On Thursday 25th September Professor Daniel Mills, from the University’s School of Life Sciences, will be delivering a lecture ‘Companion Animals and our Multispecies Society’ at Grantham Guildhall from 2.45pm.

He said: “Companion animals have enormous potential economic, health and social values to society, but the domestic environment is becoming an increasingly difficult area for them to peacefully co-exist with us. At the University of Lincoln we have been examining both the benefits and problems that arise to develop innovative solutions, discussed in this talk.”

Dr Anna Marie Roos, historian of science and medicine, from the University’s College of Arts, will be examining what drugs were prescribed by apothecaries in the 17th Century, how they were made, and the professional standing of apothecaries and physicians.

Her talk ‘Newton and the Apothecary’ will take place from 3.45pm at the Angel and Royal Hotel on Thursday 25th September.

Gravity Fields Festival now has three high profile patrons, Professor Valerie Gibson, Grantham born and now one of the UK’s top women scientists, TV presenter Dallas Campbell and Rob Iliffe, a world authority on Sir Isaac Newton.

For more on Gravity Fields festival go to

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