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Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering

Drone in a blue sky

Autonomous systems

We develop innovative scientific methods that lead to technologies requiring minimal human intervention.

Autonomous systems are used for a variety of purposes including performing remote tasks in hazardous environments and remote sensing.

They need to interact with an unknown, unstructured environment and need to sense and decide upon unexpected events that they encounter while performing their planned tasks.

Research focus

We are experts in this field and cover all aspects related to autonomous systems in a range of environments.

Some specific areas we focus on are:

  • Unmanned aerial vehicles icon
  • Unmanned underwater vehicles icon
  • Unmanned ground vehicles icon

Research highlights

Our researchers

Common issues for autonomous systems include propulsion, control and sensing, supporting hardware and software designs, and autonomy algorithms and cognitive processes. Higher level strategies for surveillance, mapping and exploration are also important, as are techniques that combine data from a variety of sensors to enable a detailed description of an environment or phenomenon to be constructed. This research is about creating supporting technologies for the above types of vehicles.

Our researchers develop autonomous systems for real-world industrial applications. We work with unmanned vehicles that operate in all the above three domains. We explore new sensing technologies, novel vehicle platforms, new control strategies, new cognitive algorithms, power management and optimisation, and methods and tools for perception, abstraction, path-planning and decision making.

Research partnerships have been established with BAE Systems, National Nuclear Laboratory, North West Aerospace Alliance, Rolls-Royce, and Roke Manor Research. Achievements include intelligent agent-based energy-management and autonomous mission re-planning and autonomous robots being developed for nuclear decommissioning applications through the £20m Dalton Cumbrian Facility, which is now a National Nuclear User Facility.

Watch some of our robotic demos: