Professor Tony Prescott

Professor of Cognitive Robotics

Telephone: +44 (0) 114 222 6657 (email is better)

Director of Sheffield Robotics

ORCID | Google scholar

Selected publications  All publications

In addition to his research output Professor Tony Prescott has authored a number of shorter pieces of general interest, about artificial intelligence and robotics, for the online magazine The Conversation.

Prof. Tony Prescott profile photo



I am a Professor of Cognitive Robotics at the University of Sheffield and Director of Sheffield Robotics an inter-disciplinary research institute across both Universities in Sheffield. This is my departmental home-page. I also maintain profiles on ResearchGateand Linkedin, and a Youtube Channel with links to online interviews, talks and movies about our robots and research.


MA Psychology (Edinburgh), MSc Applied Artificial Intelligence (Aberdeen), PhD Machine Learning (Sheffield). CPsychol FBPsS.

2018 Highlights

  • The Handbook of Living Machines, co-edited with Paul Verschure, Nathan Lepora and Michael Szollosy, was published by the Oxford University Press in April. Part of the OUP’s influential Oxford Handbook series, the book’s 65 contributed chapters provide a comprehensive introduction to research in biomimetic and biohybrid systems.
  • I am grateful to Michael Gazzaniga and Scott Grafton, from the Sage Centre for the Study of Mind at UC Santa Barbara, for hosting me for a 3-month Distinguished Fellow appointment in the summer of 2018, and to the University of Sheffield for granting me study leave for the period.
  • While in California I also visited Leah Krubitzer’s lab at UC Davis, where we co-wrote a review The Combinatorial Creature for Trends in Neurosciences on the evolution and development of mammalian cortex.
  • Our spin-out company Consequential Robotics released a new version of our unique brain-based animal-like robot.  The MiRo-e is intended for use in education and therapy and the robot is set to be a key part of our new robotics teaching in the Department of Computer Science at Sheffield University.
  • The Cyberselves Roadshow, co-organised with Michael Szollosy and Daniel Camilleri, and supported by the AHRC Cyberselves project, made appearances at Bluedot Festival, Cheltenham Science Festival, London Tech Week (3 events), FutureFest, Manchester Science Festival and Sheffield Festival of Mind, reaching an audience of more than 20,000 people.  This video shows us meeting Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon at London Futurefest.
  • With colleagues I co-organised the 7th International Conference on Living Machines in Paris, and the 11th edition of the Barcelona Summer School on Brain, Cognition and Technology.
  • As part of our activities for the EU FET Flagship Human Brain Project we organised the first HBP Innovation Forum at the London Science Museum. Thanks for everyone who visited our exhibits or attended our events.

2018 Invited Talks

Activities and Distinctions

Earlier Plenary and Invited Talks



My research is within the areas of cognitive neuroscience, artificial intelligence and bio-inspired robotics. A particular focus is on the investigation of biomimetic and biohybrid systems: an example of the former would be an animal-like or humanoid robot, of the latter a human-machine interface. Current research is directed towards (i) social cognition for humanoid robots including the possibility synthetic autobiographical memory and of a robot "sense of self”; (ii) active touch sensing for attention, orienting, and spatial memory; (iii) assistive and companion robotic technologies; (iv) haptic interfaces for sensory augmentation; (v) telepresence robotics, and (vi) societal and ethical issues in technology. Some of my research is done under the auspices of the Department's Adaptive Behaviour Research Group and the Active Touch Laboratory.


Research grants

  • Human Brain Project: EU Future Emerging Technologies Flagship. T.J. Prescott (Sheffield PI): The Human Brain Project (2016-).  Project value to Sheffield €774,000 (over four years).
  • Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC). T. J. Prescott (PI): Cyberselves in Immersive Technologies (2014-2015). Project value £50,000.
  • EU Framework 7 Cognitive and Robotics Systems. T. J. Prescott (PI): What You Say Is What You Did (WYSIWYD) (2014 - 2017). Total project value €3,500,000 (€575,000 to Sheffield).
  • EU Framework 7 Cognitive and Robotics Systems. T.J. Prescott (PI): Expressive Agents for Symbiotic Education and Learning (EASEL) (Nov 2013 - 2016). Total project value €2,910,000 (€595,000 to Sheffield).
  • UK Technology Strategy Board. T.J. Prescott (PI): IntelliTable (Sept 2013 -14). Total project value £100,000 (£27,000 to Sheffield).
  • EPSRC Capital for Great Technologies. T.J. Prescott (PI): Human-Machine Cooperation In Robotics And Autonomous (July 2013 -14). £1,000,000.
  • European Union Framework 7 Programme. T.J. Prescott (PI for Sheffield component): Convergent Science Network for Biomimetics and Neurotechnology (Mar 2013-2016). Total project value €950,000 (€172,711 to Sheffield).
  • Weizmann – UK Joint Research Programme. T.J. Prescott (PI): Development of motor-sensory strategies for vibrissal active touch (Oct 2012-2014). Total project value $100,000 ($50,000 to Sheffield).
  • EPSRC. T.J. Prescott (Co-Investigator): Bio-inspired Control of Electro-Active Polymers for Next Generation Soft Robots (Jan 2012-2015). Total project value £359,094 (~£170,000 to Sheffield).
  • EPSRC/UoS. T.J. Prescott (PI): A wearable active sensing device using tactile displays (Sept 2011-2012). £49,998.
  • European Union Framework 7 Programme. T.J. Prescott (PI for Sheffield component): CA-RoboCom: Coordination Action for the design and description of the FET Flagship candidate Robot Companions for Citizens (May 2011-2012). Total project value €1,500,000 (€90,000 to Sheffield).
  • European Union Framework 7 Programme. T.J. Prescott (PI for Sheffield component): Experimental Functional Android Assistant (EFAA) (Jan 2011-2014). Total project value €2,858,000 (€517,000 to Sheffield).
  • UoS Proof of Concept. T.J. Prescott (PI): Virtual Whiskers for Navigation in Hazardous Environments  (Nov 2010-May 2011). £10,000.
  • European Union Framework 7 Programme. T.J. Prescott (PI for Sheffield component): Convergent Science Network for Biomimetic and Biohybrid Systems (Jan 2009-2012). Total project value €520,000 (€108,000) to Sheffield).
  • European Union Framework 7 ICT Project 215910. T. J. Prescott (Co-ordinator and PI): BIOmimetic Technology for vibrissal ACtive Touch (BIOTACT) (2008-). (Jan 2008-Dec 2011). Total project value €7.8M (~€1.4M European Union contribution to Sheffield).
  • European Union Framework 6 Cognitive Systems Project ST-027819-IP. T.J. Prescott (PI): Integration Cognition, Emotion, and Action (ICEA). (Jan 2006–Dec 2009). €8.08M (~€0.9M to Sheffield).
  • EPRSC EP/C516303/1. Collaboration between 5 UK Universities. K. Gurney (PI) and TJ. Prescott: REVERB: Reverse Engineering the VERtebrate Brain (April 2005-March 2010). £1.8M (~£0.7M to Sheffield).
  • EPRSC GR/S19639/01. Collaboration with Bristol Robotics Laborator. TJ. Prescott (PI): WhiskerBot: A Robot Whisker System Modelled on the Rat Mystacial Vibrissae (September 2003-August 2006). £430k (~£150k to Sheffield).
  • EPRSC GR/R95722/01 T. J. Prescott (PI), K. Gurney, P. Redgrave: Robot control using a model of central structures in the vertebrate brain (Sept 2002–August 2005). £161k.