All posts by Marc Hanheide

Research Seminar 15/02/16 2pm, in MB1020: Dr Michael Mangan

After Dr Cuayahuitl and Dr Baxter, who gave research presentations recently, we are now happy to announce a research seminar by the third colleague to join the Lincoln Centre for Autonomous Systems soon as a Senior Lecturer.

Dr Michael Mangan

On 15/02/16, at 2pm, in room MB1020 (1st floor, Minerva Building), Dr Michael Mangan, currently still at the University of Edinburgh, will be presenting his exciting research. Everybody is invited to join in.




What can self-driving cars learn from the humble desert ant?  And how are those lessons learned?


Desert ants are amongst the most impressive of the animal navigators: expertly piloting through complex environments despite possessing low-resolution eyes and tiny brains. As such they are an ideal model system for bio-roboticists that seek to understand these amazing animals, as well as those seeking novel solutions for engineering goals such as autonomous navigation.  In this talk I shall firstly introduce the animal of interest (the desert ant) describing their amazing navigational capabilities.  I will then briefly describe some recent examples for which our bio-robotic approach has lead to advances in understanding of the biological system and novel applications in autonomous systems (such as self-driving cars).  I shall close by looking ahead to the research I shall be pursuing after joining the University of Lincoln this spring.


SoCS Research Seminar 12/2/16 2pm MB1020: From Autonomous Robots to Autonomous Cars

Dr Frederic Siepmann

Frederic Siepmann, a development specialist at BMW R&D will present in our School of Computer Science research seminar series on 12/02/16 at 2pm. His talk will take place in seminar room MB1020 (1st floor Minerva Building). Frederic will share his journey from being an academic working on autonomous robots to eventually become a developer in car autonomy and assistance, providing some insights into this career path and the latest development in the field at BMW.

BMW 7er
RoboCup Logo

Title: From Autonomous Robots to Autonomous Cars – How My RoboCup Experience helped me build Software for the new BMW 7 Series



Coming from the research area of autonomous robots and now working in the automotive industry, my talk covers some of the technological challenges as well as software engineering challenges when developing highly complex and software-intensive systems.

I will give you a short overview about lessons learned from the development of autonomous robots and how the iterative development process as e.g. performed during the RoboCup@HOME tournament helped me find my way in the automotive industry.

Also, I will show some of the current technologies in driver assistance, point out similarities and differences and dare to give a short glimpse into the future.

SoCS Research Seminar 22/1/16: Autonomous Learning for Interactive Agents

Dr. Heriberto Cuayáhuitl
Dr. Heriberto Cuayáhuitl

Dr. Heriberto Cuayáhuitl, who will be joining the Lincoln School of Computer Science soon as a Senior Lecturer in L-CAS, will be presenting in our research seminar series on Fri 22/1/16, at 1pm. His talk titled “Autonomous Learning for Interactive Agents” will be held in room MB1020. This is a great opportunity for staff and students alike, to meet their colleague and lecturer to-be.


Title: Autonomous Learning for Interactive Agents


Robots that interact with humans are still confined to controlled spaces, such as lab environments, where they conduct highly pre-specified tasks in interaction with recruited and cooperative users. Some of the obstacles that restrict real world applicability (amongst others) are their heavy reliance on domain-specific pre-programming and learning tasks that arise from the real world rather than being contrived for the purpose of robot training. In this talk, I will present a research direction on autonomous learning that aims to alleviate the above problems in order to push interactive robots over the edge of wider usability. The core of my research lies in multi-task reinforcement learning that helps agents to understand and optimise their behaviour by interacting with humans and learning from feedback and examples. I will briefly present three applications of this autonomous learning framework: (1) a situated agent that learns to guide people in indoor environments using a divide-and-conquer approach, (2) a conversational robot that learns to play educational games from interacting with children, and (3) a strategic agent that learns trading negotiations using deep reinforcement learning. I will conclude by discussing directions for future research that further increase the level of autonomy of interactive agents for their application in real world scenarios.


Dr Heriberto Cuayáhuitl is a Research Fellow in the School of Mathematical and Computer Sciences at Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh Campus. He received a PhD from the University of Edinburgh in 2009, and has been a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Bremen and the German Research Centre for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI). His research interest is in machine learning for interactive systems and robots, and he has published 60 research papers in this area. He is lead organiser of the international workshop series on Machine Learning for Interactive Systems (MLIS), and has been guest editor of the journals ACM Transactions on Interactive Interactive Systems and Elsevier Computer Speech and Language.

SoCS Research Seminar Series on 27/11/2015: Prof Nick Taylor (HWU)


The School of Computer Science is pleased to welcome Prof Nick Taylor (from Heriot-Watt University) for a research talk as part of the School’s research seminar series. Prof Taylor will be presenting current research from “The Edinburgh Centre for Robotics”.



Fri 27/11/2015, 10am


David Chiddick Building, Room BL1105 (1st Floor)


The Edinburgh Centre for Robotics harnesses the potential of 30 world leading investigators from 12 cross-disciplinary research groups and institutes across the Schools of Engineering & Physical Sciences and Mathematical & Computer Sciences at Heriot-Watt University and the Schools of Informatics and Engineering at the University of Edinburgh. Our research focuses on the interactions amongst robots, people, environments and autonomous systems, designed and integrated for different applications, scales and modalities. We aim to apply fundamental theoretical methods to real-world problems on real robots solving pressing commercial and societal needs. The Centre offers a 4 year PhD programme through the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Robotics and Autonomous Systems and hosts the Robotarium national UK robotics facility.


Nick Taylor is a Professor of Computer Science at Heriot-Watt University and a Deputy Director of the Edinburgh Centre for Robotics. He was Head of Computer Science from 2008-2014 and leads the Pervasive, Ubiquitous and Mobile Applications (PUMA) Lab which he formed in 2010. He has been involved in robotics and machine learning research for over three decades, most recently with a particular interest in the personalisation of autonomous systems for pervasive environments. Nick took his A-levels at Lincoln Christ’s Hospital School and then studied at Cardiff, London and Nottingham before joining Heriot-Watt University and settling in Midlothian.