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The University of Southampton

Cutting-edge autonomous robots to be showcased at Artificial Life conference

Published: 1 August 2008

Roke Manor Research Ltd is sponsoring a demonstration of robot technology at next week's International Conference on Artificial Life (ALIFE XI).

ALIFE XI, hosted by the University of Southampton's School of Electronics and Computer Science, is being held at the University of Winchester's West Downs Campus from 5 to 8 August.

The Roke Robot Demonstration will take place on Wednesday 6 August at 5.30pm (with a press preview at 4.30pm). As well as sponsoring the event, Roke Manor Research Ltd, (a Siemens company; will also present some of their own latest technology, including DORA.

Robots at the Roke Robot Demonstration will be:

* Roke's robot DORA (demonstration of robot autonomy) - explores dull dark and dangerous environments. DORA represents a synthesis of Roke's expertise in autonomous systems, AI, sensor exploitation, vision systems, tracking and navigation and SLAM (Simultaneous location and mapping). Exploring potentially dangerous indoor environments is one of the most dangerous activities undertaken by military and emergency services personnel and Roke's research is leading the field. Exploiting Roke's feature-based structure-from-motion techniques, DORA builds up 3D information about objects and obstacles in its way. The current experimental system is entirely based on vision processing.

* A team of the world's cheapest swarm robots developed and built by a group of undergraduate students at the University of Southampton's School of Electronics and Computer Science (ECS). These robots can be produced for as little as £24 each and swarms of up to 500 robots are envisaged, which could have long-term applications in earthquake or disaster scenarios as well as space exploration.

* The 14-inch long Miuro robot from Tokyo-based venture ZMP Inc. twists and rolls to music from an iPod in an intricate dance based on complex mathematics. Developers say this technology will enable robots to move about spontaneously instead of following pre-programmed motions.

* Self-assembling robots controlled by evolved neural networks which dynamically assign their own roles in a team, from the Free University of Brussels (ULB).

* Some of the world's most advanced humanoid robots developed by Professor Ralf Der at the University of Leipzig.

All science, medical and technology writers are welcome to attend the Press Preview and public demonstration afterwards. This will be a highly visual presentation. If you wish to attend and/or arrange filming, photos, or an interview, please email Hélène Murphy on: or Joyce Lewis on

Notes for editors

  • For further information about ALIFE XI, please visit:
    The event takes place at the University of Winchester's West Downs Campus from 5 to 8 August 2008 and is hosted by the University of Southampton.

  • Roke Manor Research
    Roke has an established track record of technology exploitation to ensure future capability. Roke specialises in:

    * working in the early phases of the technology maturation cycle
    * applying academic research to product development
    * developing technology concepts
    * analysing critical functions and demonstrating a capability

    Owned by Siemens and based in Romsey, Hampshire, Roke Manor Research is an innovative solutions provider and contract R&D specialist. It pioneers developments in electronic sensors, networks, and communications technology, providing products and services to Siemens businesses, Government departments, and commercial customers. The company employs 478 people. Its orders for the financial year ending 30 September 2007 was £44.85m and turnover for the same period was £42.55 million. For more information, visit

    Press contact: Anita Allott 01794 833343. E-mail:
    Main Reception: 02380 833000

  • The newly-formed Science and Engineering of Natural Systems (SENSe) group within the University of Southampton's School of Electronics and Computer Science (ECS) is to host ALIFE XI, which will involve 275 participants and more paper presentations than any previous ALIFE conference. It will be chaired by Dr Seth Bullock at ECS.

    Artificial life is an interdisciplinary field bringing together biologists, physicists, computer scientists and many other disciplines to work on understanding the organisation of living systems.

  • For information about SENSe, please visit:

  • With around 500 researchers, and 900 undergraduate students, the School of Electronics and Computer Science at Southampton is one of the world's largest and most successful integrated research groupings, covering Computer Science, Software Engineering, Electronics, and Electrical Engineering. ECS has unrivalled depth and breadth of expertise in world-leading research, new developments and their applications.

  • The University of Southampton is a leading UK teaching and research institution with a global reputation for leading-edge research and scholarship.

    This is one of the country's top institutions for engineering, computer science and medicine, and home to a range of world-leading research centres, including the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton, the Institute of Sound and Vibration Research, the Optoelectronics Research Centre, the Centre for the Developmental Origins of Health and Disease, and the Mountbatten Centre for International Studies.

    We combine academic excellence with an innovative and entrepreneurial approach to research, supporting a culture that engages and challenges students and staff in their pursuit of learning.

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