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The University of Southampton
EngineeringOur research

Artificial intelligence, spacecraft autonomy and control

Particular areas of interest include:

Working closely with the Autonomous Vehicle Control Systems lab, recent research has been looking at developing autonomous spacecraft which have, in effect, a 'brain' and the ability to follow commands given in system English rather than computer code.  By being able to think for themselves, the satellites can then react to the environment around them, e.g. avoiding asteroids; and the technology may also, in time, reduce the need for humans to go into space for mere routine tasks.  A lot of this work is also being applied to land and sea-based autonomous vehicles.

Extensive work is also being done in the field of developing novel solutions for complex, multi-agent system operation and control strategies.  Research in this area covers theoretical modelling, simulation and experimental testing using model spacecraft.

Innovative work is being done in the area of biologically inspired devices and solutions, for example, development of search algorithms based on bee swarms, and research into the neural signalling in invertebrates' leg movements.


Industrial partners include EADS Astrium and AeroAstro Inc.  We have also worked closely with the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton (NOCS), the University of Liverpool, Imperial College London and the University of Glasgow. The majority of funding has so far come from EPSRC.


Our research strengths

Space environment

Remote sensing

Spacecraft structures

Space systems engineering

Testing the vehicles abilities to move independently using their own assessment of the environment, research conducted here at the University of Southampton
Testing autonomous vehicles

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