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IROHMS future leaders academy 2022

During June 2022 the IROHMS Future Leaders Academy was held. IROHMS Future Leaders Academy 2022 brought together leading academics, higher education, public and third sector managers and industry experts.

The blended conference ran over a period of three weeks, comprising an exciting programme of events:

  • six keynote talks
  • three lab tours
  • industry workshops
  • a PhD colloquium
  • a EPSRC workshop
  • an evening reception

Research themes included human-like AI, ethical and explainable AI, human-centred technologies and society, and humans and robots. Our speakers included internationally recognised experts in the fields of artificial intelligence, robotics and human-machine systems as well as guest speakers.


This Keynote presentation was delivered by Dr Rob Deaves, Robotic System Architect, Dyson UK.

Title: Horizon in Autonomous Robotics

This keynote provided an overview of interesting technologies and applications for future autonomous robots. This included technologies relating to human-robot interactions, environmental sensing, processing algorithms/architectures (including for multiple robots) and actuators. The applications of autonomous robots were considered with a broad variety of examples from those that are bio-inspired to those supporting sustainability.


Dr Rob Deaves is a highly innovative engineering fellow (FIET) and teaching fellow (FHEA) with over 30 years industrial experience gained in three iconic South West companies: BAE Systems, STMicroelectronics (formerly Inmos) and Dyson; making contributions to World leading products: including the Eurofigher multirole fighter aircraft, set-top box SoCs and Dyson automated cleaners.

Rob was the Product Technical Lead for the Dyson 360Heurist, the latest robotic vacuum cleaner from Dyson, and their most complex product on the market to date. He is a RAEng Visiting Professor of Robotic Systems Architectures at Imperial College London, Advisory Board Chair of two EPSRC programme grants and International Scientific Board Chairperson for IROHMS.

This Keynote presentation was delivered by Professor George Huang, Professor in Industrial and Systems Engineering, University of Hong Kong.

Title: Cyber-Physical Internet (CPI) for Cross-Border Logistics of Manufactured Products

The concept of “Physical Internet (PI)” was featured in The Economist (2006), proposing the idea of sending and receiving manufactured goods just like sending and receiving email messages over the internet. The PI concept was academically proposed by Canadian and European researchers and then supported through a number of EU (European Union) projects, resulting in encouraging results: fill-rate increased by almost 20%, CO2 emissions reduced by 60%, total logistics cost reduced by 35%, and most importantly achieving synergy among manufacturing, transportation and sustainability.

This seminar presented an innovation of explicitly adding a digital layer to Physical Internet to create Cyber-Physical Internet (CPI). Four CPI pillars were presented, including (1) CPI digitization architecture for creating cyber-physical systems for manufacturing and logistics operations; (2) CPI network services for configuring local area network (LAN), wide area network (WAN) and catchment area network (CAN); (3) CPI mechanisms to motivate and facilitate entangling relationships between multiple stakeholders including shippers (manufacturers), carriers (logistics service providers), forwarders (service brokers); and (4) CPI decision supports for synchronized logistics planning, scheduling and execution. CPI marks the Industry 4.0-compliant network-generation global logistics systems.

The global supply chain has been suffering from major disruptions and disturbances especially caused by Covid-19 pandemic. Social distancing measures at global and local levels have resulted in large-scale interruptions in manufacturing and logistics operations. People are forced to work from home and use online shopping. Demands for high-quality e-commerce logistics services have soared.

But, plant closures and reduced factory operations, interrupted port operations, cancelled passenger flights, and delayed shipment arrivals and departures have substantially constrained capacities and created serious operational jams and deadlocks at terminals and ports. The world container index has increased over five times and the airfreight index more than doubled in two years.

CPI contributes to establishing post-pandemic “new norms”, assisting leading manufacturers to explore alternative logistics modes and capacities for exporting products in volatile time windows.


Prof. George G.Q. Huang is Chair Professor and Head of Department in Department of Industrial and Manufacturing Systems Engineering, The University of Hong Kong. He gained his BEng and PhD in Mechanical Engineering from Southeast University (China) and Cardiff University (UK) respectively. He has conducted research projects in the field of Physical Internet (Internet of Things) for Manufacturing and Logistics with substantial government and industrial grants.

He has published extensively including over two hundred refereed journal papers in addition to over 200 conference papers and ten monographs, edited reference books and conference proceedings. His research works have been widely cited in the relevant field. He serves as associate editors and editorial members for several international journals. He is a Chartered Engineer (CEng), a fellow of ASME, HKIE, IET and CILT, and member of IIE.

This Keynote presentation was delivered by Professor Anna Cox, Professor of Human-Computer Interaction, UCL.

Title: Enhanced digital productivity and wellbeing for early-career academics


Anna Cox is Professor of Human-Computer Interaction in the UCL Interaction Centre (UCLIC), in the Division of Psychology and Language Sciences and Vice Dean (Equality, Diversity & Inclusion) in the Faculty of Brain Sciences. She was Deputy-Director of UCLIC 2009-2017, chair of the Athena SWAN self-assessment team in the Division of Psychology and Language Sciences, achieving renewal of a silver award on 2 occasions, and Faculty Athena SWAN lead 2017-2019. She is also a parent.

Professor Cox is a member of both the CHI and the CHI PLAY steering committees. She was Specialist Advisor to the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee at the House of Commons for their 2019 inquiry into immersive and addictive technologies. She has served in senior roles on the programme and organising committees of a number of top-tier HCI conferences, including as technical programme chair for CHI2018 and CHI2019 and general chair of CHI PLAY 2015 and 2016.

This Keynote presentation was delivered by Professor Ah-Hwee Tan, Professor of Computer Science, Singapore Management University.

Title: Cognitive computing: theories, models and applications

Although recent development in machine learning, in particular deep learning, has significantly advanced the field of Artificial Intelligence (AI), data-driven learning-based AI systems are typically designed to solve specific problems by learning from a vast amount of training data. Human cognition, on the other hand, involves a complex interplay of multiple high-level functions: self-awareness, memory, reasoning, learning, and problem solving.

This talk introduced a new computing paradigm known as Cognitive Computing, which is inspired by human cognitive functions and processes. A family of self-organising neural network models, collectively known as fusion Adaptive Resonance Theory (fusion ART), may be used to simulate cognitive computation. By extending Adaptive Resonance Theory (ART) into a multi-channel network architecture, fusion ART unifies several important neural models developed over the past decades, including the original ART model for unsupervised learning, Adaptive Resonance Associative Map (ARAM) for supervised learning, and Fusion Architecture for Learning and Cognition (FALCON) for reinforcement learning.

Following the notion of embodied cognition, fusion ART, encompassing a suite of universal neural coding and adaptation principles, can also be used as a building block of a memory model called EM-ART for modelling of spatiotemporal episodic memory. This talk presented case studies illustrating how such ART-based cognitive models may be applied to various memory-based applications, such as activities of daily living (ADL) analysis, topological mapping and navigation as well as COVID-19 contact tracing.


Dr Ah-Hwee Tan received a Ph.D. in Cognitive and Neural Systems from Boston University, Master of Science and Bachelor of Science (First Class Honors) in Computer and Information Science from the National University of Singapore. He is currently Professor of Computer Science and Associate Dean (Research) at the School of Computing and Information Systems (SCIS), Singapore Management University (SMU). Before joining SMU, he was Professor of Computer Science at the School of Computer Science and Engineering (SCSE), Nanyang Technological University, where he last served as the Associate Chair (Research) of the school. Prior to NTU, he was a Senior Member of Research Staff at the A*STAR Institute for Infocomm Research (I2R), spearheading the Text Mining and Intelligent Agents research programmes.

His current research interests include cognitive and neural systems, brain-inspired intelligent agents, machine learning, and text mining. Dr. Tan has published over 200 technical papers in major international journals and conferences of his fields, in addition to six edited books and proceedings. He holds two US patents, five Singapore patents, and has spearheaded several A*STAR projects in commercialising a suite of knowledge management and text mining software. He has served as Associate Editor of several journals, including IEEE Transactions on Neural Networks and Learning, IEEE Transactions on SMC Systems, and IEEE Access. He is a Senior Member of IEEE, Member of IEEE Technical Committee on Neural Networks, Vice Chair of IEEE CIS Task Force on Towards Human-Like Intelligence, and General Co-Chair of 2022 IEEE Symposium Series on Computational Intelligence (IEEE SSCI 2022).

This Keynote presentation was delivered by Professor Tony Pipe, Professor of Robotics and Autonomous Systems, UWE, Bristol.

Title: The road from research to market for advanced robotics: will developments in the Connected Autonomous Vehicles domain provide the critical key to unlock this route?

I sincerely believe that there is a confluence of appropriate technology for robots operating with and amongst us such that, from a research and development perspective we are almost ready to invade the market. However, this means that we are also very close to Gartner's hype cycle "Peak of Inflated Expectations". In the CAV sector the processes of verification and validation, combined with a standards, regulation and a legal framework are a big and integrated factor, and I believe that they are key to avoiding robotics, on a wider front, again (it has happened before during my career) slipping down the hype cycle into the, so called, "trough of disillusionment". So, I would like to talk through the potential as well as the risks faced by researchers and developers working in the group of safety-critical physically embodied autonomous agents currently rising in the public's perception, which are exemplified by, but definitely not limited to, the "driverless car”.


Tony Pipe obtained his PhD qualification in 1997, became a Reader in 2006, and has been a full Professor of Robotics and Autonomous Systems since 2010, and is the former Deputy Director of Bristol Robotics Laboratory (BRL). He has 20 years of experience in carrying out research in advanced sensor-systems, medical robotics, biologically-inspired robotics, machine learning and adaptive behaviour, applied to intelligent and distributed control / monitoring systems for robotics. Tony is currently running research projects in these areas with a total value of over £8M. He is the co-director of BRL’s EPSRC-funded Centre for Doctoral Training in Robotics and Autonomous Systems, and technical lead for two government funded driverless car projects.

This Keynote presentation was delivered by Professor Tom Gedeon, Optus Chair for Artificial Intelligence, Curtin University.

Title: Responsive AI needs responsible AI

Responsive AI is the use of human behavioural and biometric data to create useful AI systems, and comes from a convergence of HCI and AI. Examples were given of some exciting research outcomes in this space. But these great results come at a potential cost of loss of privacy, so we need responsible AI, which is a privacy by design approach, to control the private and personal data used.


Professor Tom Gedeon is the Optus Chair in Artificial Intelligence at Curtin University in Perth. Tom is Honorary Professor of Computer Science and recently was Head of the Human Centred Computing (Hcc) Research Areas of the School of Computing in the College of Engineering and Computer Science, The Australian National University. Professor Gedeon’s research is focused on the development of automated systems for information extraction, from textual as well as eye gaze and physiological human data, and for the synthesis of the extracted information into humanly useful information resources, primarily using neural network, deep learning and fuzzy logic methods. This is responsive AI or human centred computing.

Tours, talks and workshops

As part of the programme of events for the Future Leaders Academy, Cardiff University’s Centre for Artificial Intelligence, Robotics and Human-Machine Systems (IROHMS) hosted Afia Masood (Portfolio Manager/Business Relationship Manager), Dr Danielle Lloyd (Senior Portfolio Manager), and Rhian Jacob-Barclay (Portfolio Manager) from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) on Tuesday 7 June, to share details of the AI and Robotics Theme.

This was an excellent opportunity to hear first-hand all about the EPSRC’s AI and Robotics Theme and the benefits of applying to their opportunities. The session explored current opportunities, support, and resources available to applicants. The workshop ended with a Q&A session which gave attendees the opportunity to pose questions to the EPSRC team.

Led by Lab Manager Satheeshkumar Veeramani, attendees were taken on a tour of the IROHMS Human-Robot Interaction Lab, located in the School of Engineering. Attendees heard about our research in the Lab, and experienced demonstrations of our world-leading research infrastructure facilities.

Find out more about our lab.

The new and improved research infrastructure facilities are due to European Regional Development Fund intervention.

Members of IROHMS' PhD cohort delivered short presentations on their research, demonstrating the broad range of topics within the fields of artificial intelligence, robotics and human-machine systems currently being explored at the Centre. The session was an excellent opportunity to share research, experiences and ideas with researchers and PhD students at Cardiff University.

The presentations were in one of four categories: Human-like AI, Ethical and Explainable AI, Human-centred Technologies and Society, and Humans and Robots. Participants were welcomed to the event with an introduction from Professor Phil Morgan.


Human-like AI (Chair: Professor Rossi Setchi)

  • Francisco Munguia Galeano (PhD student) - Deep Reinforcement Learning with Explicit Context Representation
  • Xiaodan Wang (PhD student) - Modelling Uncertainties in Human-Robot Industrial Collaborations
  • Qingmeng Wen (PhD student) - Context Awareness in Robotics
  • Tong Tong (PhD student) - Context change and triggers for human intention recognition

Ethical and Explainable AI (Chair: Dr Yulia Hicks)

  • Jacob Bretherick (PhD student) - Examining Human Understanding of Cyber Security, Privacy and Physical Security Features of Connected and Autonomous Vehicles
  • Victoria Marcinkieicz (PhD student) - Cyber Security for Autonomous Vehicles
  • Yan Gao (PhD student) - Edge-based Digital Twin Framework for Remote Bridge Performance Management

Human-centred Technologies and Society (Chair: Professor Yu-kun Lai)

  • Yan Shan Tai (PhD student) - Rapid Information Integration in Support of Situational Awareness and Spatial Behaviour: The Role of Self-Generated Expectation (SGE)
  • George Raywood-Burke (PhD student) - Human Workload Factors in Cyber-Security Decision-Making
  • Jialu Yang (PhD student) - A Key Element for Human-Machine Interaction towards Industry 5.0: Human-Centric Smart Manufacturing
  • Tianyuan Liu (PhD student) - A data-driven trust model for human-machine interaction towards Industry 5.0

Humans and Robots (Chair: Dr Ze Ji)

  • Francisco Munguia Galeano (PhD student) - Context-Sensitive Personalities and Behaviours for Robots
  • Carly McGregor (PhD student) - Robots and Social Synchrony
  • Prasad Rayamane (PhD student)  - Design and development of a robust vision-based tactile sensor

Title: Theoretical and applied research – view from an industry research lab

This talk discussed the place of theoretic or fundamental research together with applied research within an industry lab environment. It explored how academia and industry can and should work together in both spaces to maximise the impact of research. It also discussed some of the key differences between the two types of research environment and how borrowing skills from one context can bring about new opportunities and facilitate communication. The talk drew on recent successful collaborations between Cardiff University’s Schools of Psychology and Computer Science and Informatics, and Airbus.


Matilda Rhode is the Head of Cyber Innovation and Scouting at Airbus, which seeks to anticipate future cyber security challenges and tackle them through close collaboration with academia. Matilda switched social for computer science in 2015 when she started a PhD in computing at Cardiff University, followed by a PhD in Malware Detection with Machine Learning. After her PhD she joined Airbus where the innovation team focus is on bespoke and future threats to cyber security that are not addressed by existing security products.

Led by Lab Manager Dr Jacques Grange, attendees were taken on a tour of the IROHMS Simulation Lab, located in the School of Psychology. Attendees heard more about our research in the Lab, and experience demonstrations of our world-leading research infrastructure facilities.

Find out more about our lab.

The new and improved research infrastructure facilities are due to European Regional Development Fund intervention.

Title: Design thinking and adoption of advanced technologies in products or services

Researchers and Scientists are rightly focused on pushing the boundaries of their specialty domains. However, not all the new technologies and research patents, resulting from their hard work, make their way into successful products or services. So, what are the key considerations when it comes to successful commercialisation of technologies? This talk explored how Design Thinking can serve as an important framework for answering this question.


Dr Alexander Chan (Alex) started his academic career at Cardiff University after completing his PhD in Artificial Intelligence in 1996. In the late 1990s he joined the mobile technology industry. For over 15 years he took a series of senior roles in sales and marketing with leading British and European companies.

From 2004 and 2011, Alex was VP of Sales for Asia Pacific based in Beijing with annual sales revenue in excess of €40 million.

The customers managed by Alex included well-known multinationals such as Google, Samsung, LG, Nokia, Motorola, Microsoft, Toshiba, Panasonic, HTC, Lenovo, Huawei and China Mobile.

Alex joined HKU SPACE in 2014 and he became Head of Centre for Management and Innovation at Institute for China Business. He was Principal Lecturer at HKU SPACE specializing in teaching and providing corporate training in Management, Strategy, Leadership and Innovation.

In the past 5 years, Alex has provided teaching and training to over 1,200 business executives in Mainland China. New Oriental, Jabil, Lenovo, Novo Nordisk and IKEA are among the illustrious client companies that he has served. In Hong Kong, he has provided corporate training, on wide ranging topics from management, strategy, sales, innovation, digital transformation to Design Thinking, to organisations such as Estee Lauder, Bank of Singapore, Delta Asia, Sears, ICBC, Haitong International and Chow Tai Fook.

He now runs his own consulting firm Brainy Alliance based out of Hong Kong.

Led by Lab Manager Dr Ze Ji, attendees were taken on a tour of the Autonomous Systems and Robotics Lab, located in the School of Engineering. Attendees heard more about our research in the Lab, and experienced demonstrations of our world-leading research infrastructure facilities.

Find out more about our lab online.

The new and improved research infrastructure facilities are due to European Regional Development Fund intervention.