Will machines soon be thinking for themselves?

Robotics research at Plymouth University

What does the future hold for robotics? How will their relationship with human beings change? 

The University of Plymouth’s Professor Tony Belpaeme will help address the big issues in robotics during Channel 4’s new documentary, The Robot Will See You Now (Tuesday 28 November, 10pm). From infidelity to obesity, it investigates how artificial intelligence can help humans cope with life's challenges.

To coincide with Channel 4's Rise of The Robots season, we look at how our researchers and pioneering academics are turning science fiction into reality.

Exploring how robots can help humanity

Helping children break the language barrier

Robot learning has been at the heart of a number of Professor Tony Belpaeme’s projects, and one of his latest, L2TOR is transplanting that principle to schools and language learning. 

The three-year Horizon 2020 initiative focuses on teaching English to native speakers of Dutch, German and Turkish, but also teaching Dutch and German to children whose first language is Turkish.

“As was the case with ALIZ-E, we are exploring the possibilities and the boundaries of AI and robotics,” says Tony. “It is not a straight line from A–B, but that is part of the challenge and excitement."

For the past decade, our work in robotics has been one of the undisputed research success stories of the University: a relatively small team, successful in bidding for multi-million pound grants, leading some of the biggest collaborations in the field.

Robot home brings together family of research

An interdisciplinary hub where an international team of researchers can study human interaction with the University’s ‘robot family’
Celebrating our research

vBot robotic manipulandum

This device is able to record movement of the handle and also exert forces on the participant’s hand.
Find out more about the vBot

TEDx talk: The power of robots with a face

Professor Tony Belpaeme describes the awesome power of how humans can project personality onto inanimate objects. Tony shows us how by harnessing this aspect of human nature we may be able to do incredible things with the robots of the future.

Tony is Professor in Intelligent and Autonomous Control Systems at the University of Plymouth

More of Tony's research

“Industries are moving into AI and robotics, particularly in areas such as deep learning, which uses deep neural networks,” Professor Angelo Cangelosi says. “We have been working in that field for a number of years already so this gives us a significant advantage. Indeed, we have undoubtedly contributed to this growth.”

Professor Angelo Cangelosi

The people who make our robots more human

Women in robotics

Within the School of Computing, Electronics and Mathematics there has been a historic and consistent commitment to promote and encourage women in to robotics.

We are striving to eliminate the gender imbalance that exists nationally in the engineering sector.

Find out more about some of our women in robotic engineering

Left to right: Rithika Venkatesan, Chiara Rivetti, Jane Sheard, Katherine Page-Bailey

Vasileios Chatzimarkos – BEng (Hons) Robotics

I believe that Plymouth University prepared me very well for the challenges that I will face in my career because I learnt how to deal with taught coursework, how to manage my time, how to work in a team and how to be a leader.

Vasileios talks about how the University prepared him for his future career

Read his story

Daniel Gregory-Turner – MEng (Hons) Robotics

My favourite memory studying at Plymouth has to be project showcase day. There are such a wide range of possibilities with this course it was great to see each individual’s interests and skills developed into a large project.

Daniel tells us about his experience studying robotics and the skills he developed on the course

Read more from Daniel

Study robotics with us

MSc Robotics.
Centre for Robotics and Neural Systems
<p>Robot handshake</p>