Robotics: A Very Short Introduction

Cover image: Swarm Intelligence

Cover Image: Swarm Robotics








Alan FT Winfield
Professor of Electronic Engineering, UWE Bristol
Visiting Professor, Department of Electronics, University of York
Director of the UWE Science Communication Unit

Faculty of Environment and Technology
University of the West of England, Bristol
Coldharbour Lane, Bristol BS16 1QY
Phone: +44 117 328 2644
Email:  Alan.Winfield (at)
Skype: alanftwinfield

Welcome to my home page. I'm an engineer and academic at UWE Bristol, and I conduct research in cognitive robotics within the Bristol Robotics Lab.

I am deeply interested in mobile robots for two reasons: (1), they are complex and potentially useful machines that embody just about every design challenge and discipline there is and (2), robots allow us to address some deep questions about life, emergence, culture and intelligence in a radically new way, that is by building models. Thus, robotics is for me both engineering and experimental philosophy.

I'm committed to the widest possible dissemination of research and ideas in science, engineering and technology and I believe that robots provide us with a wonderful vehicle for public engagement. Actually I would go a stage further and argue that intelligent robots will become ubiquitous in the near future and we therefore need to start a dialogue now about the ethical and moral questions that will arise.

Blog + Twitter
  Short Biography
  Press and Media
  LinkedIn profile
Current Projects:
Verifiable Autonomy blog posts
  euRathlon blog posts

Recent Projects:
  Symbrion blog posts
Artificial Culture blog posts
  Robotic Visions blog posts
  Walking with Robots blog posts
  on ResearchGate
  on the UWE Repository

Research students
Recent stuff:
Talk at the World Economic Forum 2016, Davos, Could we make a moral machine? Blog post.

Guest panelist in BBC R4 The Infinite Monkey Cage, hosted by Brian Cox and Robin Ince, broadcast 18 January 2016.
Talks Coming Up:

Keynote, Artificial Life and Intelligent Agents Symposium​ (ALIA 2016), 15 June 2015, University of Birmingham.​

Panel debate, Robotics: Future technology today, 22 June 2016, London.

Public Lecture, The Ethical Roboticist,​​ 27 June 2016, University of Liverpool.

Panel debate, Robots: faithful servants or existential threat?, 29 June 2016, RAEng, London.

Keynote, Conference on Social Robotics and AI, 15 September 2016, Oxford.

Talk for Cirencester Science and Technology Society, 12 October 2016.

Selected recent papers:

Castello E, Yamamoto T, Liu W, Winfield AF, Nakamura Y and Ishiguro H. (2016) Adaptive foraging for simulated and real robotic swarms: The dynamical response threshold approach. Swarm Intelligence, 10 (1). pp. 1-31. Download final draft (pdf).

Erbas MD, Bull L and Winfield AFT (2015), On the Evolution of Behaviors through Embodied Evolution, Artificial Life, 21 (2), 2015. Download final draft (pdf).

Winfield AFT, Blum C and Liu W (2014), Towards an Ethical Robot: Internal Models, Consequences and Ethical Action Selection, pp 85-96 in Advances in Autonomous Robotics Systems, LNCS 8717, Eds. Mistry M, Leonardis A, Witkowski M and Melhuish C, Springer, 2014. Download final draft (pdf).

O'Dowd P, Studley M and Winfield AFT (2014) The distributed co-evolution of an on-board simulator and controller for swarm robot behaviours. Evolutionary Intelligence, 7 (2). pp. 95-106. Download final draft (pdf).

Erbas MD, Winfield AFT and Bull L (2014), Embodied Imitation-Enhanced Reinforcement Learning in Multi-Agent Systems, Adaptive Behavior, 22 (1), 2014. Download final draft (pdf).
Updated 17 May 2016