Professor Tony Prescott
F-08 The Pam Livesidge Building,
The University of Sheffield,
Sheffield S10 2TN, UK
Tel: (+44) 0114 222 66657 (but email is better)
I am Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience 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 ResearchGate and 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.
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.
- I published a new edited book The Scholarpedia of Touch with Springer (Atlantis Press), co-edited with Ehud Ahissar and Eugene Izhikevich, containing 62 chapters covering the science and technology of tactile sensing. For a flavour of the book see my introductory article The World of Touch, with Volker Durr, on Scholarpedia.org.
- I was lead author of a chapter about neurorobotics and embodied models in From Neuron to Cognition via Computational Neuroscience a major new MIT Press volume edited my Michael Arbib and James Bonaiuto.
- I became Director of Research for the University of Sheffield spin-out company Consequential Robotics which launched its first product MiRO a pet-like companion robot for research and education.
- I became a partner in The Human Brain Project via a competitive open call. My 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.
- The UK Parliament's Science and Technology Committee published a contribution I authored as part of their written evidence which was quoted in their final report.
- The University became #1 in the UK for EPSRC funding in robotics (excluding Doctoral Training Centres) supported by the activity of Sheffield Robotics.
- The EPSRC's Pioneer Magazine, Issue 17, included articles about Consequential Robotics and a piece I authored about ethical and societal issues in robotics and artificial intelligence.
- I was interviewed at the ICRA 2016 conference for the Robohub robotics podcast.
- My TheConversation piece Why Westworld's Robots Should Make Us Questions Ourselves was syndicated by several online media sources including The Independent and Newsweek.
- I debated Whether a Robot Could be Ethical at the 2016 Battle of Ideas at the London Barbican.
- EU Future Emerging Technologies Flagship. T.J. Prescott (Sheffield PI): The Human Brain Project (2016-). Project value to Sheffield €400,000 (over two 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.
Activities and Distinctions
- Fellow of the British Psychological Society (FBPsS), 2011–
- Co-founder of the University of Sheffield spin-out company Consequential Robotics, 2016–
- Editor of Connection Science, 2014-
- Co-founder of the "Living Machines" International Conference Series, 2012-
- Co-organiser of the European Union FP7 Co-ordination Action Convergent Science Network for Biomimetics and Neurotechlog
- Co-founder and Director of the Sheffield Robotics, 2011-
- Partner in the "Robot Companions for Citizens" FET Flagship pilot project and leader of a working group on Societal Impacts and Ethical Issues in Robotics, 2011-12
- Cofounder and co-organiser of the annual Barcelona Summer School on Cognitiion, Brain & Technology, 2008-
- Co-ordinator of the EU FP7 BIOTACT project, 2008-12
- Visiting Research Fellow at Bristol Robotics Laboratory, 2003-
- Founder and co-director of the Adaptive Behaviour Research Group, 1996-
- My research has been covered by the BBC One Show, Radio 4 Material World & Costing the Earth, Discovery Channel, The Guardian, The Telegraph, The Observer, The Economist, Science Magazine, New Scientist, Focus Magazine and American Scientist.
Plenary and Invited Talks
- Norwegian Academy of Technological Sciences, 6th October 2016 (Invited talk)
- Battle of Ideas, London Barbican Centre, 22nd October 2016 (Debate)
- IEEE ICDL-EPIROB 2016, 22nd September 2016 (Plenary talk)
- Tencent "Way to Evolve" Conference, November 2015 (Invited talk, live streamed)
- Institute of Contemporary Art "Fear of Missing Out", 30th May 2015 (invited talk)
- SPIE Biomimetics, San Diego, USA, March 2014 (Opening talk)
- 'Socially-responsible research in Cognitive Systems: A no-win or a win-win'. EU Cognition III Annual Meeting, Brighton, UK, December 2013 (Plenary talk)
- IEEE World Haptics, Daejeon, South Korea, April 2013 (Opening talk)
- European Conference for Complex Systems, Warwick, 2009 (Opening talk)
A list of key publications can be found below. For a full list of publications please click here or via Google Scholar. As of December 2016 I have an h-factor of 32 (Google Scholar) based on around 5800 citations. In addition to my research output I have authored a number of shorter pieces of general interest, about artificial intelligence and robotics, for the online magazine The Conversation.
- Martinez-Hernandez U, Dodd TJ, Evans M, Prescott TJ & Lepora NF (2016) Active sensorimotor control for tactile exploration. Robotics and Autonomous Systems. View this article in WRRO
- Prescott T (2015) Me in the machine. New Scientist, 225(3013), 36-39. View this article in WRRO
- Arkley K, Grant RA, Mitchinson B & Prescott TJ (2014) Strategy change in vibrissal active sensing during rat locomotion.. Curr Biol, 24(13), 1507-1512. View this article in WRRO
- Mitchinson B, Pearson MJ, Pipe AG & Prescott TJ (2014) Biomimetic tactile target acquisition, tracking and capture. Robotics and Autonomous Systems, 62(3), 366-375. View this article in WRRO
- Grant RA, Sharp PS, Kennerley AJ, Berwick J, Grierson A, Ramesh T & Prescott TJ (2014) Abnormalities in whisking behaviour are associated with lesions in brain stem nuclei in a mouse model of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.. Behav Brain Res, 259, 274-283.
- Mitchinson B & Prescott TJ (2013) Whisker movements reveal spatial attention: a unified computational model of active sensing control in the rat.. PLoS Comput Biol, 9(9), e1003236. View this article in WRRO
- Grant RA, Haidarliu S, Kennerley NJ & Prescott TJ (2013) The evolution of active vibrissal sensing in mammals: Evidence from vibrissal musculature and function in the marsupial possum Monodelphis domestica. Journal of Experimental Biology, 216(18), 3483-3494. View this article in WRRO
- Lepora NF, Verschure P & Prescott TJ (2013) The state of the art in biomimetics.. Bioinspir Biomim, 8(1), 013001.
- Lepora NF, Martinez-Hernandez U & Prescott TJ (2013) Active touch for robust perception under position uncertainty. Proceedings - IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation, 3020-3025.
- Grant RA, Mitchinson B & Prescott TJ (2012) The development of whisker control in rats in relation to locomotion.. Dev Psychobiol, 54(2), 151-168.
- Lepora NF, Fox CW, Evans MH, Diamond ME, Gurney K & Prescott TJ (2012) Optimal decision-making in mammals: insights from a robot study of rodent texture discrimination.. J R Soc Interface, 9(72), 1517-1528.
- Prescott TJ, Diamond ME & Wing AM (2011) Active touch sensing.. Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci, 366(1581), 2989-2995.
- Mitchinson B, Grant RA, Arkley K, Rankov V, Perkon I & Prescott TJ (2011) Active vibrissal sensing in rodents and marsupials.. Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci, 366(1581), 3037-3048.
- Wilson SP, Bednar JA, Prescott TJ & Mitchinson B (2011) Neural computation via neural geometry: a place code for inter-whisker timing in the barrel cortex?. PLoS Comput Biol, 7(10), e1002188. View this article in WRRO
- Dario P, Verschure PFMJ, Prescott T, Cheng G, Sandini G, Cingolani R, Dillmann R, Floreano D, Leroux C, MacNeil S, Roelfsema P, Verykios X, Bicchi A, Melhuish C & Albu-Schäffer A (2011) Robot companions for citizens. Procedia Computer Science, 7, 47-51.
- Grant RA, Mitchinson B & Prescott TJ (2011) The development of whisker control in rats in relation to locomotion. Developmental Psychobiology.
- Humphries MD & Prescott TJ (2010) The ventral basal ganglia, a selection mechanism at the crossroads of space, strategy, and reward.. Prog Neurobiol, 90(4), 385-417.
- Wilson SP, Law JS, Mitchinson B, Prescott TJ & Bednar JA (2010) Modeling the emergence of whisker direction maps in rat barrel cortex.. PLoS One, 5(1), e8778. View this article in WRRO
- Chambers JM & Prescott TJ (2010) Response times for visually guided saccades in persons with Parkinson's disease: A meta-analytic review. Neuropsychologia, 48(4), 887-899.
- Prescott TJ, Pearson MJ, Mitchinson B, Sullivan JCW & Pipe AG (2009) Whisking with Robots From Rat Vibrissae to Biomimetic Technology for Active Touch. IEEE ROBOT AUTOM MAG, 16(3), 42-50. View this article in WRRO
- Grant RA, Mitchinson B, Fox CW & Prescott TJ (2009) Active touch sensing in the rat: anticipatory and regulatory control of whisker movements during surface exploration.. J Neurophysiol, 101(2), 862-874. View this article in WRRO
- Fox CW, Mitchinson B, Pearson MJ, Pipe AG & Prescott TJ (2009) Contact type dependency of texture classification in a whiskered mobile robot. Autonomous Robots, 26(4), 223-239. View this article in WRRO
- Prescott TJ, Bryson JJ & Seth AK (2007) Introduction. Modelling natural action selection.. Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci, 362(1485), 1521-1529. View this article in WRRO
- Prescott TJ (2007) Forced moves or good tricks in design space? Landmarks in the evolution of neural mechanisms for action selection. ADAPT BEHAV, 15(1), 9-31. View this article in WRRO
- Prescott TJ, Newton LD, Mir NU, Woodruff PWR & Parks RW (2006) A new dissimilarity measure for finding semantic structure in category fluency data with implications for understanding memory organization in schizophrenia.. Neuropsychology, 20(6), 685-699. View this article in WRRO
- Gurney K, Prescott TJ, Wickens JR & Redgrave P (2004) Computational models of the basal ganglia: from robots to membranes.. Trends Neurosci, 27(8), 453-459.
- Crowe SJ & Prescott TJ (2003) Continuity and change in the development of category structure: Insights from the semantic fluency task. INT J BEHAV DEV, 27(5), 467-479. View this article in WRRO
- Gurney K, Prescott TJ & Redgrave P (2001) A computational model of action selection in the basal ganglia. I. A new functional anatomy.. Biol Cybern, 84(6), 401-410.
- Prescott TJ, Redgrave P & Gurney K (1999) Layered control architectures in robots and vertebrates. ADAPT BEHAV, 7(1), 99-127. View this article in WRRO
- Redgrave P, Prescott TJ & Gurney K (1999) The basal ganglia: a vertebrate solution to the selection problem?. Neuroscience, 89(4), 1009-1023. View this article in WRRO
- Prescott TJ & Verschure PFMJ (2016) Action-oriented Cognition and its implications : Contextualising the New Science of Mind In Engel AK, Friston K & Kragic D (Ed.), The Pragmatic Turn Toward Action-Oriented Views in Cognitive Science Mit Press View this article in WRRO
- Prescott AJ, Mitchinson B, Lepora NF, Wilson SP, Anderson SR, Porrill J, Dean P, Fox CW, Pearson MJ, Sullivan JC & Pipe AG (2015) The robot vibrissal system: Understanding mammalian sensorimotor co-ordination through biomimetics In Krieger P & Groh A (Ed.), Sensorimotor Integration in the Whisker System Springer View this article in WRRO
- Chambers JM, Gurney K, Humphries M & Prescott A (2012) Mechanisms of choice in the primate brain: a quick look at positive feedback, Modelling Natural Action Selection (pp. 390-420). Cambridge University Press View this article in WRRO
- Prescott AJ, Mitchinson B, Pearson MJ & Pipe AG (2011) Biomimetic robots as scientific models: a view from the whisker tip In Krichmar J & Wagatsuma H (Ed.), Neuromorphic and Brain-Based Robots (pp. 23-57). Cambridge University Press View this article in WRRO
- Prescott AJ & Mayhew JEW (1992) Adaptive local navigation In Blake A & Yuille A (Ed.), Active Vision The MIT Press View this article in WRRO
Conference proceedings papers
- Martinez-Hernandez U, Damianou A, Camilleri D, Boorman LW, Lawrence N & Prescott AJ (2016) An integrated probabilistic framework for robot perception, learning and memory. 2016 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Biomimetics (ROBIO), 3 December 2016 - 7 December 2016. View this article in WRRO
- Mitchinson B & Prescott TJ (2016) MIRO: A robot “Mammal” with a biomimetic brain-based control system. Lecture Notes in Computer Science (including subseries Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence and Lecture Notes in Bioinformatics), Vol. 9793 (pp 179-191) View this article in WRRO
- Camilleri D, Damianou A, Jackson H, Lawrence N & Prescott T (2016) iCub visual memory inspector: Visualising the iCub’s thoughts. Lecture Notes in Computer Science (including subseries Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence and Lecture Notes in Bioinformatics), Vol. 9793 (pp 48-57) View this article in WRRO
- Prescott TJ, Lepora N & Vershure PFMJ (2014) A future of living machines? International trends and prospects in biomimetic and biohybrid systems. Proceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering, Vol. 9055 View this article in WRRO
- Lepora NF, Martinez-Hernandez U, Pezzulo G & Prescott TJ (2013) Active Bayesian perception and reinforcement learning. IEEE International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (pp 4735-4740) View this article in WRRO
- Collins EC, Millings A & Prescott TJ (2013) Attachment to assistive technology: A new conceptualisation. Assistive Technology Research Series, Vol. 33 (pp 823-828) View this article in WRRO
- Prescott TJ (2013) The AI singularity and runaway human intelligence. Lecture Notes in Computer Science (including subseries Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence and Lecture Notes in Bioinformatics), Vol. 8064 LNAI (pp 438-440) View this article in WRRO
- Lepora NF, Martinez-Hernandez U & Prescott TJ (2013) A SOLID case for active bayesian perception in robot touch. Lecture Notes in Computer Science (including subseries Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence and Lecture Notes in Bioinformatics), Vol. 8064 LNAI (pp 154-166) View this article in WRRO
- Bertram C, Evans MH, Javaid M, Stafford T & Prescott T (2013) Sensory augmentation with distal touch: The tactile helmet project. Lecture Notes in Computer Science (including subseries Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence and Lecture Notes in Bioinformatics), Vol. 8064 LNAI (pp 24-35) View this article in WRRO
- Mitchinson B, Pearson MJ, Pipe AG & Prescott TJ (2012) The emergence of action sequences from spatial attention: Insight from rodent-like robots. Lecture Notes in Computer Science (including subseries Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence and Lecture Notes in Bioinformatics), Vol. 7375 LNAI (pp 168-179) View this article in WRRO
- Fox C & Prescott T (2010) Hippocampus as unitary coherent particle filter. 2010 INTERNATIONAL JOINT CONFERENCE ON NEURAL NETWORKS IJCNN 2010 View this article in WRRO
- Prescott TJ () Sunny uplands or slippery slopes? The risks and benefits of using robots in care. UKRE Workshop on Robot Ethics, 25 March 2013. View this article in WRRO
- Prescott TJ, Epton T, Evers V, McKee K, Hawley M, Webb T, Benyon D, Conran S, De Cock Buning M, Verschure PFMJ & Dario P () Robot Companions For Citizens: Roadmapping The Potential For Future Robots In Empowering Older People. BRAID (Bridging Research in Ageing and ICT Development) Final Conference, 29 May 2012. View this article in WRRO
- Prescott TJ, Ahissar E & Izhikevich E (Eds.) (2016) Scholarpedia of Touch. Atlantis Press.
- Prescott TJ, Lepora NF, Mura A & Verschure PFMJ (Eds.) (2012) Biomimetic and Biohybrid Systems - First International Conference, Living Machines 2012, Barcelona, Spain, July 9-12, 2012. Proceedings. Springer.
- Seth A, Prescott T & Bryson J (Eds.) (2011) Modelling Natural Action Selection. Cambridge Univ Pr.