Universities get £3m to bring trust to autonomous systems

An academic consortium dedicated to researching trust in autonomous systems has been announced as part of a £3 million project.

Led by Heriot-Watt University, home to the National Robotarium, the project brings together academic expertise in robotics, cognitive science and psychology from Imperial College London and the University of Manchester.

It is part of the UKRI Trustworthy Autonomous Systems (TAS) programme, funded through the UKRI Strategic Priorities Fund and delivered by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC). The TAS programme supports cross-disciplinary research to ensure that autonomous systems are safe, reliable, resilient, ethical and trusted.

Led by professor Helen Hastie from Heriot-Watt University and the Edinburgh Centre of Robotics, the consortium will explore solutions to manage trust in autonomous systems where there is interaction with humans. Examples include self-driving cars, autonomous wheelchairs or 'cobots' in the workforce.

The group’s work aims to help design the autonomous systems of the future, ensuring they are widely used and accepted in a variety of industry-relevant applications.

Hastie said: “The challenge of managing trust between the human and the system is particularly difficult because there can be a lack of mutual understanding of the task and the environment - the new consortium will perform foundational research on how humans, robots and autonomous systems can work together by building a shared reality through human-robot interaction.”

She added: “By adopting a multi-disciplinary approach, grounded in psychology and cognitive science, systems will learn situations where trust is typically lost unnecessarily, adapting this prediction for specific people and contexts - we will explore how to best establish, maintain and repair trust by incorporating the subjective view of humans towards autonomous systems.

The central aim of the TAS programme is to ensure that autonomous systems are socially beneficial, protect people’s personal freedoms and safeguard physical and mental well-being.

The National Robotarium is a partnership between Heriot-Watt University and the University of Edinburgh, which combines Heriot-Watt’s engineering heritage and strengths in robotics for hazardous environments, manufacturing, healthcare and human-robot interaction with the University of Edinburgh’s expertise in space, construction and humanoid robotics.

    Share Story:

Recent Stories