Tony Prescott – Keynote Speaker

Keynote Title: "Biomimetic robot companions for entertainment and education."


Biomimetics is the approach of abstracting principles from nature to assist in the design of novel technologies.  At Sheffield Robotics we are using a biomimetic approach to develop robots with brain-like control systems and we are applying this approach to both humanoids, such as the European iCub and the expressive robot Zeno, and to new animal-like robots.  This talk will describe our approach to biomimetics which we have evolved by building the mammal-like robots ScratchBot and Shrewbot, and that we are now applying to create a commercial robot for education and entertainment. 
The MiRo robot, developed with the British industrial designer Sebastian Conran, is a part-works robot that will be available commercially frtonyrobotom early 2016.  MiRo builds on our past research by incorporating a brain-like layered control architecture, built around three separate processors.  Designed to be assembled in stages, each stage will provide a fully functioning robot with some interesting behavioural capability.  Though primarily
a platform for entertainment, and for education about robotics and biology, MiRo will also be available to research groups wishing to explore the advantages and potential of biomimetic brain-based control.


Tony Prescott develops biomimetic robots that resemble animals, including humans. His goal is both to advance the understanding of biological life, and to create useful new technologies such as assistive, educational and entertainment robots. Tony is the co-founder and current Director of Sheffield Robotics a cross-institutional robotics research institute with over one hundred active researchers.  As a researcher he has published more than 150 international conference and journal papers in fields as diverse as robotics, AI, behavioural neuroscience and neuropsychology. With his collaborators he has developed the whiskered robots Scratchbot and Shrewbot and the companion robot pet MiRo. He is currently working to develop brain-like control systems for the iCub humanoid robot that will provide the robot with a “sense of self”. As the co-founder of the British start-up company Consequential Robotics he is also engaged in commercial projects to develop assistive robots that will enhance the experience of life as we age. His research has been covered by the major news media including the BBC, CNN, Sky TV, Discovery Channel, Science Magazine and New Scientist, he also regularly speaks on ethical and societal issues related to robotics and advanced AI technologies.