University of Birmingham
BSc in Artificial Intelligence and Computer Science, PhD in Artificial Intelligence
B&Q cashier, school cleaner, post-doc, academic
Associate Professor of Engineering Science (Robotics)
University of Oxford and Pembroke College
Favourite thing to do in research: Take messy, complex problems apart to find the structure lurking within
I'm an Associate Professor working in the Oxford Robotics Institute, part of the Department of Engineering Science. I work on AI for robot behaviour.
I live just north of Oxford with my wife, two daughters, two chickens, two rabbits, and, thankfully, only one dog. We moved to Oxford in 2017 after a very long time in Birmingham. When I’m not researching AI or chasing robots around I enjoy all things musical (playing drums, recording, going to see bands), science (fiction), and video games.
I work on AI methods to allow robots to plan and execute behaviour for missions that last from minutes to months.
In my research I study two main topics. The first looks at how robots can create internal models (like memories in a computer) of the world around them and how that world behaves. These models may contain information about the space a robot lives in (like a map), what kinds of things the robot can do where (e.g. that it needs to drive to a particular place to open a door or find a person), how how well it can do these things (e.g. how long it takes to drive between two locations, or how reliably it can open a door). The second strand of my research looks at how algorithms (a list of instructions in a computer) can take these models and work out the best thing for a robot to do to achieve a particular goal (e.g. delivering a drink to someone). I also study how a robot can get better at doing things over long periods of time.
Sometimes I give lectures to students. They look a bit like this.
And sometimes I give talks to the general public like this.
My Typical Day
Smoothie, train, coffee, email, meetings with amazing students, try to find time to code/read, train, family, bed.
What I'd do with the money
Use it to support Anna's idea!
I am one of Anna‘s supervisors, so I’d rather she won the money! So, if you vote for me I’ll help her run the engagement events she describes.
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
optimistic, clumsy, enthuiastic
What's the best thing you've done as a researcher?
Doing this job every day is pretty much the "best thing".
What or who inspired you to become a researcher?
No one in particular, I just found it was something I enjoyed doing.
What was your favourite subject at school?
Physics (I think), it was a long time ago.
What did you want to be after you left school?
When I was young I wanted to be a marine biologist.
Were you ever in trouble at school?
If you weren't a researcher, what would you be?
Who is your favourite singer or band?
It's impossible to pick just one.
What's your favourite food?
Pizza, sushi, burritos, noodles, bao, bread, cake, .... pretty much everything
If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!
More time, more happiness,
Tell us a joke.
Q: What is R2D2 short for? A: Because he has little legs.