Autonomous systems

Traditional methods of remotely controlling systems via manual operation become inadequate as the complexity of systems and the required tasks increase, particularly in changing and challenging environments. In recent times, we have seen an exponential increase in the demand for technologies that operate with minimal human intervention.
The Group is one of the lead partners in a multi-disciplinary theme at The University of Manchester that is exploring the use of autonomous vehicles in a diverse range of industries, including aerospace, nuclear and agriculture. The focus of our research is in developing low-level control systems that are robust to uncertainty and path planning algorithms that can autonomously guide a vehicle through an partially known environment.

World-class research facilities

  • Growing Autonomous System Mission Management Applications (GAMMA), an £8.8M project on Unmanned Aerial Vehicles and Autonomous Systems funded 50% by the Regional Growth Fund, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, UK and 50% by the consortium. The project is in collaboration with North West Aerospace Alliance, BAe Systems, National Nuclear Laboratory and the Universities of Liverpool, Salford, Lancaster and Central Lancaster with The University of Manchester's share in this project being £1.5M.
  • Within EEE, the Rolls-Royce University Technology Centre (UTC) in Electrical Systems hosting the Systems Engineering for Autonomous Systems Defence Technology Centre (SEAS DTC)’s Integrated Electrical Power Networks Evaluation Facility (IEPNEF), a 100kVA experimental platform for UAV electrical systems tests.
  • Centre for Interdisciplinary Computational and Dynamical Analysis (CICADA), a £2M EPSRC funded centre of excellence to explore new mathematical and computational methods for analysing hybrid and asynchronous systems and for developing associated adaptive control methods.
  • Autopilot hardware-in-the-Loop testing facilities
  • Embedded Electronics
  • Image Processing and Analysis


Vehicles and platforms include:

  • air vehicles optimised for payloads between 1g and 10Kg.
  • ground and underwater vehicles.
  • specialised aero-actuators for flight control.

Autonomy and control algorithms

  • advanced automation and filtering algorithm.
  • safety and fault tolerance.
  • guidance, navigation, command and control.
  • intelligent systems (e.g. sense and avoid, sense and follow).

Power optimisation:

  • energy storage and management for vehicle platforms.
  • jet engine and electrical load emulation.

Sensing technologies:

  • object detection and recognition.
  • hyper/multi-spectral imaging and signal processing.

Application domains: 

  • autonomous underwater vehicle measurements sub-sea and surface.
  • autonomous aerial vehicle measurements at very high altitudes.
  • autonomous vehicles for different infrastructure inspections.


For more details please visit The Autonomous Systems Research Theme within The Faculty of Electrical and Physical Sciences at The University of Manchester:

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