Signal transmitting neuron or nerve cell in the brain
Centre for Robotics and Neural Systems (CRNS) builds on the world-leading and international excellence performance in the field of computer science, cognitive robotics and neural computation.
Staff coordinate large UK and FP7/H2020 projects (e.g. COGNOVO, APRIL, L2TOR) and collaborate with the major international centres in cognitive robotics and computational neuroscience.
The Centre is part of the Faculty of Science and Engineering’s priority area on Robotics and Autonomous Systems, together with the Autonomous Marine Systems Research Group.
Given the Centre’s highly interdisciplinary approach, it collaborates with researchers in the School of Psychology and the Marine Institute.

Research at the CRNS strategically focuses on the following research areas, aligned to international and UK priorities

  • The application of mathematical and computational modelling, computational neuroscience and cognitive modelling in robotics and autonomous systems.
  • Computational neuroscience and developmental and learning models of biological and artificial systems.
  • The investigation and understanding of the interaction between humans and robots, with an emphasis on language and non-verbal communication and social learning.
  • The application of computational models into real-world robotic and interactive systems such as robot companions for hospitalised children and for elderly care, robots in education, personal robotics, future intelligent systems and autonomous systems.
CRNS includes an international group of academics, postdoc and research students from a wide range of disciplines.


Research node
Dr Amir Aly, a lecturer in AI and robotics has set up a research node with the Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche, Istituto di Scienze e Tecnologie della Cognizione (CNR-ISTC) in Italy. This node will cover different research areas in cognitive and developmental robotics and cognitive science with 10 PhD students from 2022 over 3 years. 
Plymouth Robotics Research in the BBC
Research on cognitive robotics and on human-robot interaction carried out at the University of Plymouth has been featured in two BBC documentaries. 
Work on language and number learning with the iCub robot featured in the second episode of the BBC Four documentary 'Hyper Evolution: Rise of the Robots', shown in August 2017. 
And the work with the Pepper robot was shown in the BBC Two documentary 'Six Robots & Us'.
PhD student participation in the European Robotics Week Hackathon 
A team, including PhD student Ricardo de Azambuja, competed in European Robotics Week held in Brussels in November 2016. Read more about Ricardo's project.

New projects

DeCIFER (Honda Research Institute)
This project, funded by Honda Research Institute (Offenbach, Germany) aims at advancing the scientific understanding of trust and intention compliant support in the interaction of humans and machines. It is advanced by means of the design of a robot learning architecture, based on the developmental robotics approach (Cangelosi and Schlesinger 2015, Goerick et al 2009), for collaborative intelligence between humans and robots engaged in joint tasks. In particular it will investigate how a robot can learn to use redundant, multi-modal information (eye-gaze, gestures, motion, speech) to dynamically infer the intention of the human partner and to communicate its own intention and shared goal. The projects funds a PhD student (Samuele Vinanzi), who is co-supervised by professor Angelo Cangelosi and by our Visiting Professor Goerick from Homda HRI.

Agriculture Robotics (ERDF)
The project Agri-tech in Cornwall is funded by the European Regional Development Fund, and includes a line of research in robotic harvesting. This is led by Dr Martin Stoelen, the designer of the well know GummiArm. In addition, Martin is the PI of a Royal Society Newton Fund grant on Robot Harvest, in collaboration with Professor Mick Fuller.
MoveCare: Multiple-actors Virtual Empathic Cargiver for the Elder
Award of new H2020 grant 'MoveCare: Multiple-actors Virtual Empathic Cargiver for the Elder' (Euro 440k to PU), which will combine robot companions and games to support the independent living of the elderly. The grant is led by Professor Angelo Cangelosi (SoCEM/CRNS) as PI, with Professor Ray Jones of the Institutes of Health and Community as co-investigator. This grant is in collaboration with Oxford University, Milan University (coordinator) and other academic and user partners in Europe.
L2TOR: Second language tutoring using social robots
L2TOR (pronounced ‘el tutor’) is a scientific research project on second language tutoring using social robots funded by the Horizon 2020 programme of the European Commission. The project aims to design a child-friendly tutor robot that can be used to support teaching preschool children a second language (L2) by interacting with children in their social and referential world. The project is led by the University of Plymouth, with Professor Tony Belpaeme as coordinator.
Three new Sklodowska Marie Curie ITN grants awarded in the Spring of 2015: APRIL EID, SECURE ETN and DCOMM ETN
The APRIL European Industrial Doctorate, led by Cangelosi, Belpaeme and Dahl, will look at personal robotics applications through interaction and learning. This is in collaboration with Aldebaran Robotics. 
Angelo Cangelosi and Jeremy Goslin will be supervising tow ESR PhD students in the new H2020 SECURE ETN to look at the role of language, non-verbal behaviour and affordances in human-robot interaction. 
Cangelosi will also lead the CRNS partnership of the DCOMM ETN on Deictic Communications.
Reynolds Building

Contact the Centre for Robotics and Neural Systems

Centre for Robotics and Neural Systems University of Plymouth, Reynolds Building, PL4 8AA, Plymouth, Devon, United Kingdom