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High Integrity Systems

Prof Simon Burton
Chair in Systems Safety


I currently hold the role of chair of systems safety and I am also business lead for the Centre for Assuring Autonomy.

My research explores the intersection of systems safety engineering, artificial intelligence and the legal/ethical and regulatory considerations necessary to form convincing safety assurance arguments for complex, autonomous and AI-based systems. This includes pursuing the following questions:

  • How safe is safe enough? What is the application-specific definition of safe or trustworthy? How can the specific safety requirements on the system be derived and expressed? This requires an inter-disciplinary view combining theoretical, engineering, governance, and ethical perspectives.
  • How to engineer safe, autonomous systems? Which technologies and engineering methods can be applied to fulfil the safety requirements for any given task? This work combines an understanding of the basic concepts of AI and machine learning, safety analysis and systems engineering.
  • How to argue that an appropriate level of safety has been met? Which combination of analysis, test and other sources of evidence can be used to formulate a convincing argument that the safety requirements of the system have indeed been fulfilled? This includes an investigation of the residual uncertainty in such arguments, for example, based on belief theory and statistical properties of safety evidence.


  • BEng in Computer Science, University of York, 1992-1996
  • DPhil in Computer Science, University of York, 1997-2001


After initially spending some time developing telecommunications software, I returned to York as a research associate within the High Integrity Systems Engineering Group. During this time I also completed my Phd on the topic of Automated Generation of high integrity test suites from graphical specifications. I then spent several decades managing research, development and consulting organisations in industry including at DaimlerChrysler (Mercedes) and Bosch. Most recently I was scientific director for safety assurance at the Fraunhofer Institute of Cognitive Systems. I am very active in several standardization committees and I am convenor of the ISO working group (ISO TC22/SC32/WG14) on safety and AI for road vehicles. This work has included leading the development of the ISO PAS 8800 Road vehicles - Safety and artificial intelligence standard.


Contact details

Department of Computer Science
University of York
Deramore Lane
YO10 5GH

Phone: +44 (0)1904 325500

Office: Off-campus


Research Group: