We are very fortunate to have two keynote speakers this year: one hailing from academia, and one from industry.


Let’s get Physical: Robot Bodies and how to Evolve them

Robots have bodies, and bodies must obey the laws of physics. The behaviour of a mobile robot is the result of the physical interaction of the robot’s body and its working environment. In this talk I will introduce mobile robots and show how we design robot bodies. A powerful new approach is called evolutionary robotics. Inspired by Darwinian evolution it is a method for artificially evolving a robot to optimise its design. Illustrated with video clips of robots in action, and some real robots, I will explain how roboticists are evolving strange new robot bodies.


Alan Winfield is Professor of Electronic Engineering and Director of the Science Communication Unit at the University of the West of England, Bristol. He conducts research in swarm robotics in the Bristol Robotics Laboratory and is especially interested in robots as working models of life, evolution, intelligence and culture. Alan is passionate about communicating science and technology. He holds an EPSRC Senior Media Fellowship with the theme Intelligent Robots in Science and Society, and blogs about robots, open science and related topics at



This talk will focus on alternatives to academia, in particular, working in industry (with a focus on industry in the UK). It will explore the types of roles available to engineers, researchers, and “user experience” designers. The focus
will primarily be on the user experience roles available, and the challenges faced by those who undertake them within the context of a large company. The talk will also reveal some facts about the working life at Google and the company’s


Lidia began her professional career as a social worker before moving into Computer Science. Here, she moved from database programming and computer architectures to Human Computer Interaction (HCI). Her career in HCI has taken her through various roles and companies. She has worked for dot-com companies (including and, as a consultant in the financial sector, and for an agency (where clients included, Royal Mail, and the UK’s Department of Health). More recently she has worked as a user researcher for Nokia and now Google. At Google, she has worked as a researcher for AdSense, YouTube, Google Product Search, and also assisted teams investigating emerging markets. Lidia completed her PhD in HCI in the UK, where she has been working and living the last eight years.

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