About Us

Co-Chairs

David Lane

Entrepreneur and founding director of Edinburgh Centre for Robotics

Professor and Founding Director in the Edinburgh Centre for Robotics, a £120M joint venture between Heriot-Watt and Edinburgh Universities training 100 PhDs in the EPSRC ROBOTARIUM national equipment facility. Previously he established Heriot-Watt’s Ocean Systems Laboratory with an international reputation in marine robotics, publishing nearly 300 cited publications with international funding from the UK, EU, US and Japan.  
Alongside being a ‘serial entrepreneur’ David sits on a range of advisory boards and has been elected fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering, Royal Society of Edinburgh, Institution of Engineering and Technology, Society of Underwater Technology and Royal Geographical Society. He was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire for services to Engineering in the 2016 Queen’s New Year Honours list.

Paul Clarke

Independent Advisor to Government, Industry and Start-ups

In November 2020, Paul Clarke stepped down as Chief Technology Officer at Ocado, having joined the business in 2006 and led the sharp end of Ocado’s innovation factory since early 2012. Paul is passionate about the recipes for successful invention, innovation and disruption, which in his experience are all about embracing non-linearity, mess, uncertainty, intersectional thinking, unconventionality, intuition and leaps of faith. He believes building a successful innovation factory is all about the people, culture, creativity, leadership and vision rather than the underlying technologies, and he has spent much of his career being a piece of disruptive grit in a number of different oysters, trying to help people see what they can’t see and trying to inspire teams to do things they never dreamed possible. His particular areas of focus are the opportunities created by the alchemical blend of data, AI, synthetic environments/ digital twins, smart machines and living labs at a national and potentially planetary scale. He sits on a number of government and industry advisory boards including the AI Council, Robotics Growth Partnership (co-chair), Innovation Expert Group, ISCF Future Flight, ISCF RAI Extreme Environments and the National Food Strategy, whilst at the same time advising a number of exciting start-ups.

Members

David Bisset

Robotics consultant

Career roboticist, Chair of KTN’s RAI SIG Advisory Board since 2015. Co-author of 2014 RAS strategy. Formerly head of mobile robotics research at the University of Kent. With Dyson 1998-2002 before setting up as a consultant in robotics and embedded systems, assistive technology and technology transfer. Regular speaker and leader of European robotics programmes (EUROP, Horizon 2020, SPARC, RockEU and RockEU2). Co-author of authoritative 2018 RAS Foresight report for Lloyds Register Foundation.

Rob Buckingham

RACE, UKAEA

Director of the UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) and the first Head of RACE, the centre for Remote Applications in Challenging Environments. Before re-joining the UKAEA, Rob co-founded OC Robotics which developed and commercialised snake-arm™ robots. He is a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering and a Fellow of the Institute of Engineering and Technology. He received an OBE for services to robotics engineering in the 2021 New Year Honours.

Sabine Hauert


Bristol Robotics Laboratory, University of Bristol, Robohub

Associate Professor of Swarm Engineering at University of Bristol, specialising in swarm engineering across scales, from nanomedicine to treat cancer to robot swarms for intralogistics or environmental monitoring. Founder of Robohub not-for-profit international robotics collaboration network and Hauert lab on swarm engineering. Her work has featured in BBC, CNN, Guardian, Economist, TEDx, Wired and New Scientist.
Previously worked in the USA at MIT and Carnegie Mellon and at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in Switzerland.

James Kell

Rolls Royce

Robotics innovator, tech specialist and industrial end user. James’ expertise spans across technology applications, advocating and developing new technologies for real world application. He is a regular collaborator across academia and business community, including with the National Robotics Network, and recently leading a collaboration with Nottingham University and other parties to rethink maintenance solutions and developed remote repair tools, swarm technologies and snake robots.

Samia Nefti-Meziani

Salford University and National Robotics Network

Professor of Artificial intelligence and Robotics and Cofounder of the National Robotics Network. Founder and Director of the Centre for Autonomous Systems and Advanced Robotics at Salford and led the newly £13M North of England Robotics Innovation Centre, co-funded by EU and Research England, to develop the UK’s cross-sector intelligent automation and robotics industry. She is currently the Co-Director of the EPSRC Hub in Robotics and Future AI for Space Technology (FAIR-SPACE). She has a well-established track record and has published extensively in top impact factor journals in soft/hard robotics and Artificial Intelligence. Through the large UK and European research programmes, she has developed wider practical cross-sectorial technologies and has pioneered their use in many sectors including Food, Agriculture, Nuclear, Transport, Aerospace and Healthcare. She regularly appears on TV and radio and she is cofounder of the National Robotics Network.

Paul Newman

Oxford Robotics Institute – Oxbotica Ltd

Academic, technologist and entrepreneur. Director of the Oxford Robotics Institute, Founder of Oxbotica and BP Professor of Information Engineering at Oxford University. Leading thinker in robotic spatial awareness. Published over 200 papers and continues to extend the reach and endurance of mobile robotics. Oxbotica is a fast growing autonomy company based in the UK which raised £14m in 2018 that supplies autonomy software to vehicle manufactures around the world.

Rob Richardson

Leeds University – Head of RAS Network

Academic and network owner. Director of Institute of Design, Robotics and Optimisation and Director of £4m Leeds University robotics facility. Current focus on surgical, wellbeing, safety and security applications. Former UK MOD Grand Challenge finalist 2008 and won prizes for use of robotic technology in Great Pyramid discover in Giza in 2011. Took over as head of RAS Network in 2019.
Professor of Robotics and a Fellow of the Institute of Mechanical Engineers.

Julia Sutcliffe

BAE Systems

Chief Technologist with accountability for a broad portfolio of technology development and partnerships. PhD in Physics and industrial background in the development of autonomy and robotics, from large scale unmanned aircraft systems to unmanned ground vehicles, swarming agents and the underpinning systems architectures, decision-making protocols, trust, safety and security considerations. Honorary Professor in the School of Computer Science at Manchester University, Chartered Engineer and Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society. Member of multiple advisory councils and an advocate of D&I and STEM.

Rebecca Weston

Sellafield

Technology developer and end user. COO of Sellafield, responsible for overall delivery and performance one of the world’s most complex nuclear and industrial sites, employing over 10,000 staff. Role includes all aspects of retrieval and legacy clean-up, spent fuel and special nuclear material management, as well as nuclear waste management, decommissioning and remediation. She has leadership experience across large and small manufacturing. Chartered Physicist and Engineer, MBA and non-executive and volunteer roles across a range of economic development and learning orgs, including the Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership.

Elaine Whyte

PA Consulting

Driven to accelerate technology advancements that impact positively on society, Elaine is a thought leader in RAS application for business and is focused on rapidly pulling technology from R&D through into the users hands. Having served for 20 years in the Royal Air Force as an aerospace engineer, Elaine began her journey with RAS by taking drones to business and identifying how aerial collected data could support them in making better decisions. Now a consultant with PA Consulting where the purpose, bringing ingenuity to life to build a positive human future, is at the heart of what Elaine aspires to deliver.    

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