Professor Alan FT Winfield



In 1984, shortly after completing a PhD in Digital Communications Winfield resigned his lectureship at the University of Hull, to found a company on the then newly established Hull University Science Park. Created to commercialise patented research in high performance computer architectures the company also found itself delivering contract research and development in software for safety-critical communication systems, primarily for the public safety sector. Winfield went on to establish the company, APD Communications Ltd, as one of the key UK providers of software for mobile radio data systems, notably leading contracts to design a fault-tolerant radio communications infrastructure for the Channel Tunnel. 


He left the company in 1992 to take up appointment as Associate Dean (Research) and Hewlett-Packard Professor of Electronic Engineering at the University of the West of England, Bristol, but remains a non-executive director of APD. Winfield is a Chartered Engineer and Member of the Institution of Electrical Engineers, the IEEE and the Institute of Directors.


Moving into the field of mobile robotics he co-founded, with Chris Melhuish and Owen Holland, the Intelligent Autonomous Systems (IAS) Laboratory at the University of the West of England in 1993, re-launched in 2005 as the joint UWE, University of Bristol Bristol Robotics Laboratory. Within the BRL Winfield's projects span Swarm Intelligence and Social Intelligence. His work on Swarm Robotics is concerned with algorithms, analysis, modelling and specification for potential high integrity applications. More recent work has been directed toward both social intelligence and evolutionary robotics, with a particular focus on robots with simulation-based internal models. In general Winfield is interested in the nature and limits of robot intelligence.

He is a member of the editorial board of the Journal of Experimental and Theoretical Artificial Intelligence, and an associate editor of Evolutionary Robotics.

Winfield is passionate about communicating research and ideas in science, engineering and technology; he led UK wide EPSRC public engagement project Walking with Robots, awarded the 2010 Royal Academy of Engineering Rooke medal for public promotion of engineering. He is an advocate for robot ethics; he was co-organiser and member of the 2010 EPSRC/AHRC working group that drafted the Principles of Robotics, and is a member of the British Standards Institute working group on robot ethics. Winfield has published over 220 works, including ‘Robotics: A Very Short Introduction’ (Oxford University Press, 2012), and lectures widely on robotics (including robot ethics) presenting to both academic and public audiences.

Winfield is a member (and former director) of UWE's Science Communication Unit.