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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/R004757/1
Title: Thales-Bristol Partnership in Hybrid Autonomous Systems Engineering (T-B PHASE)
Principal Investigator: Bullock, Professor S
Other Investigators:
Lawry, Professor J Richards, Dr A Wilson, Professor RE
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Thales Ltd
Department: Computer Science
Organisation: University of Bristol
Scheme: Standard Research
Starts: 01 October 2017 Ends: 30 September 2022 Value (£): 2,050,757
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Artificial Intelligence Human-Computer Interactions
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Manufacturing
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
24 May 2017 Prosperity Partnerships Interviews Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
Hybrid autonomous systems are those where groups of people are in direct, ongoing interaction with groups of autonomous robots or autonomous software.

One prominent current example involves rush-hour traffic made up of a mixture of cars driven by people and cars driven by smart algorithms. However, emerging technologies in robotics, AI and ICT mean that hybrid autonomous systems of this kind will become increasingly common in a much wider set of situations:

Emerging technologies in robotics, AI and ICT mean that hybrid autonomous systems of this kind will become increasingly common in a much wider set of situations:

- a mixture of autonomous and human-operated drones making deliveries or monitoring public spaces;

- a mixture of human traders and autonomous trading agents buying and selling stocks;

- a mixture of autonomous and human-operated trains and trams providing efficient, integrated public transport;

- autonomous systems assisting with search and rescue missions in disaster areas that are difficult or dangerous to access;

- robot carers assisting care workers with the provision of social care in the home

In each of these cases smooth, reliable, safe interaction amongst machines and people will be key to success. But how can we guarantee that self-driving cars won't cause a crash or gridlock? How can we understand how autonomous systems will respond to new situations (both acute shocks and long-term gradual changes in their environment), or changes in the way that people interact with them? Consequently, as we enter this new design space, a crucial challenge for the engineers of hybrid autonomous systems across all of these settings is ensuring that the system behaviour is Robust and Resilient and that it meets Regulatory demands: the R3 Challenge.

T-B PHASE directly addresses this R3 Challenge for Hybrid Autonomous Systems Engineering, by bringing together expertise in robotics, AI, and systems engineering at the University of Bristol and Thales in a five-year project that targets fundamental autonomous system design problems in the context of three real-world Thales use cases: Hybrid Low-Level Flight, Hybrid Rail Systems, and Hybrid Search & Rescue.

Bristol and Thales have a long-standing track record of research collaboration, and by jointly pursuing fundamental research questions in the context of highly practical design problems, alongside a programme of engagement with industry, the public and regulatory bodies, T-B PHASE will significantly advance our capability to operate confidently in one of the most important emerging areas for modern engineering.

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Organisation Website: http://www.bris.ac.uk