Understanding the Brain by Building Robots
The SAGE Center Distinguished Fellow for April is Tony Prescott, Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience at the University of Sheffield, UK, and Director of Sheffield Robotics, an inter-disciplinary research institute across both the University of Sheffield and Sheffield Hallam University. Dr Prescott develops biomimetic robots that resemble animals, including humans. His goal is both to advance the understanding of biological life, and to create useful new technologies such as assistive, educational and entertainment robots. With his collaborators he has developed the whiskered robots Scratchbot and Shrewbot and the companion robot pet MiRo. He is currently working to develop brain-like control systems for the iCub humanoid robot that will provide the robot with memory for past events and with a “sense of self”. As the co-founder of the British start-up company Consequential Robotics he is also engaged in commercial projects to develop assistive robots that will enhance the experience of life as we age. In 2016, Dr. Prescott co-edited, with Ehud Ahissar and Eugene Izhikevich, The Scholarpedia of Touch (Springer Atlantis Press), he is also the lead editor of Living Machines: A Handbook of Research in Biomimetic and Biohybrid Systems to be published in March 2018 by Oxford University Press. Dr. Prescott is a partner in The Human Brain Project where his research group is working on episodic memory for the iCub humanoid robot and spatial memory for mammal-like robots, both of which will involve modelling the brain's hippocampal system. His YouTube channel contains links to online interviews, talks and movies about his group’s robots and research.