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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/S024050/1
Title: EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Autonomous Intelligent Machines and Systems
Principal Investigator: Osborne, Dr MA
Other Investigators:
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
AECOM Limited (UK) Continental Automotive GmbH DeepMind
EDF Huawei Group MathWorks
NASA FDL nVIDIA Ordnance Survey
Oxbotica Ltd QinetiQ Rail Safety & Standards Board
Rhodes House Robert Bosch GmbH Samsung R&D Institute UK
Satellite Applications Catapult Schlumberger Toshiba
Department: Engineering Science
Organisation: University of Oxford
Scheme: Centre for Doctoral Training
Starts: 01 October 2019 Ends: 31 March 2028 Value (£): 5,532,026
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Artificial Intelligence Control Engineering
Image & Vision Computing Robotics & Autonomy
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Aerospace, Defence and Marine Healthcare
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
07 Nov 2018 EPSRC Centres for Doctoral Training Interview Panel A – November 2018 Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
A growing consensus identifies autonomous systems as core to future UK prosperity, but only if the present skills shortage is addressed. The AIMS CDT was founded in 2014 to address the training of future leaders in autonomous systems, and has established a strong track record in attracting excellent applicants, building cohorts of research students and taking Oxford's world-leading research on autonomy to achieve industrial impact. We seek the renewal of the CDT to cement its successes in sustainable urban development (including transport and finance), and to extend to applications in extreme and challenging environments and smart health, while strengthening training on the ethical and societal impacts of autonomy.

Need for Training: Autonomous systems have been the subject of a recent report from the Royal Society, and an independent review from Professor Dame Wendy Hall and Jérôme Pesenti. Both reports emphatically underline the economic importance of AI to the UK, estimating that "AI could add an additional USD $814 billion (£630bn) to the UK economy by 2035". Both reports also highlight the urgency of training many more skilled experts in autonomy: the summary of the Royal Society's report states "further support is needed to build advanced skills in machine learning. There is already high demand for people with advanced skills, and additional resources to increase this talent pool are critically needed."

In contrast with pure Artificial Intelligence CDTs, AIMS places emphasis on the challenges of building end-to-end autonomous systems: such systems require not just Machine Learning, but the disciplines of Robotics and Vision, Cyber-Physical Systems, Control and Verification. Through this cross-disciplinary training, the AIMS CDT is in a unique position to provide positive economic and societal impacts for autonomous systems by 1) growing its existing strengths in sustainable urban development, including autonomous vehicles and quantitative finance, and 2) expanding its scope to the two new application pillars of extreme and challenging environments and smart health.

AIMS itself provides evidence for the strong and increasing demand for training in these areas, with an increase in application numbers from 49 to 190 over the last five years. The increase in applications is mirrored by the increase in interest from industrial partners, which has more than doubled since 2014. Our partners span all application areas of AIMS and their contributions, which include training, internships and co-supervision opportunities, will immerse our students in a variety of research challenges linked with real-world problems.

Training programme: AIMS has and will provide broad cohort training in autonomous intelligent systems; theoretical foundations, systems research, industry-initiated projects and transferable skills. It covers a comprehensive range of topics centered around a hub of courses in Machine Learning; subsequent spokes provide training in Robotics and Vision, Control and Verification, and Cyber-Physical Systems. The cohort-focused training program will equip our students with both core technical skills via weekly courses, research skills via mini and long projects, as well as transferable skills, opportunities for public engagement, and training on entrepreneurship and IP. The growing societal impacts of autonomous systems demand that future AIMS students receive explicit training in responsible and ethical research and innovation, which will be provided by ORBIT. Additionally, courses on AI ethics, safety, governance and economic impacts will be delivered by Oxford's world-leading Future of Humanity Institute, Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics and Oxford Martin Programme on Technology and Employment.

Key Findings
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Potential use in non-academic contexts
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Date Materialised
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Organisation Website: http://www.ox.ac.uk