Autonomous Systems

The passion driving our autonomous systems research is to reveal and understand the science that underlies the perception, cognition and physical embodiment required to design and build viable real-world systems.  However, this passion is matched by the desire to make a real impact upon society, either economically or via social interaction, through the practical application of the systems and technologies we develop.

As new computing technology continues to be adopted throughout every facet of society, algorithms and devices exhibiting various degrees of autonomy are becoming commonplace. However, removing humans from the decision-making process for anything but the most routine automation tasks presents new challenges, especially in healthcare and aerial robotics applications. To ensure safety, performance and social acceptance of autonomous systems many research questions remain to be investigated.

Our perception and actuation-related research programmes include 2D & 3D computer vision, smart chemical sensors, touch-sensitive robot “skin”, novel transduction technologies (CENSYS), robotic manipulators and precision optical system pointing, tracking, image processing & stabilisation.  ASystems RT

Cognition research is spread across engineering, computing science and psychology and covers research areas as diverse as swarm and neurocontrol of autonomous spacecraft & UAVs (drones), application of formal methods to cognitive programs and operations research. Psychological factors of human interaction with autonomous systems forms the basis for our research in Social Robotics. This exciting new field brings together psychologists, computer scientists, human geographers and engineers in a number of current UK and EU funded research projects.

Computing science researchers are investigating use of advanced AI techniques and neural network models to allow robotic systems to learn to recognise objects, understand situations and learn to control their actions to respond to situations or complete tasks. We are also combining these robotics methodologies to tackle close human-robot integration with the goal of developing prosthetic devices that can be controlled as effortlessly and dexterously as any limb.

In support of autonomous systems research we have developed several state-of-the-art facilities. Simulation plays a key role and many bespoke models have become available, MAVERIC for example, has been designed to support complete end-to-end simulation of multiple autonomous systems in real-world scenarios. World-class experimental facilities include: the James Watt Nanofabrication Centre supporting sensor manufacture, upgraded wind tunnels - now part of the National Wind Tunnel Facility, and drone design, fabrication and flight-testing in the Micro Aerial Systems Technology laboratory.

Our robotic clothing manipulation research is supported with a dual-arm Motoman robot laboratory and research on social robotics currently employs a number of human-like and human friendly robots including the Nao. A Baxter research robot provides both undergraduates and postgraduates with a safe and accessible platform for hands-on robot research.



Key Projects

S4 (Science of Sensor Systems Software):  

S4 (Science of Sensor Systems Software) is a key research activity in the areas of Sensor Systems led by Professor Muffy Calder in collaboration with St Andrews and Liverpool Universities and Imperial College - 

This programme grant funded by EPSRC will deliver new principles and techniques for the development and deployment of verifiable, reliable, autonomous sensor systems that operate in uncertain, multiple and multi-scale environments. 


Programmable 'Digital' Synthesis for Discovery & Scale-up of Molecules, Clusters & Nanomaterials:

Very recently we have started to explore the development of configurable chemical-robotic platforms for the discovery, optimisation, scale-up and control of syntheses using a range of approaches including flow systems, 3D printing and hybrid robotic platforms. While a number of leading groups internationally and in the UK are aiming to develop new approaches to the optimisation of chemical synthesis, we wish to take the idea a stage further and develop an integrated platform for the discovery of molecular entities (initially focussing on inorganics) and then assess their 'fitness' according to user needs to construct a new library of programmable chemical building blocks leading to new systems that can be rapidly manufactured and tested in a range of application areas. 

This programme grant from EPSRC aims to develop a new synthetic chemistry and engineering platform for the discovery of molecules, clusters and nanomaterials using an integrated hybrid chemo-robotic system integrating wetware (chemical reagents), hardware (reactors and sensors) and software (intelligent algorithms).

Research Flyers


Discover more about the Modelling of Autonomous Vehicles using Robust, Intelligent Computing.


Micro Air Systems Technology Lab

Learn about our MAST lab, the type of research we do here and how this will impact the future of the field. 


Radar Detection & Classification of Small UAVs & Microdrones

Explore the potential problems created by wide-spread availability of UAVs & Microdrones and what is being done to combat these issues.


Aerospace Science & Engineering

Find out more about the University of Glasgow's Aerospace Science & Engineering research.


Aerospace Facilities

Our Aerospace Facilities are some of the best in the country.