UKRI Funding Available for Trustworthy Autonomous Systems Research Nodes

The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) has launched a call to support seven research nodes for the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) Trustworthy Autonomous Systems programme. The programme aims to bring together research communities and key stakeholders to drive forward cross-disciplinary fundamental research to ensure that autonomous systems are safe, reliable, resilient, ethical and trusted.

To ensure that autonomous systems can be trusted, and ultimately adopted by society, fully integrated advances in both technical, and social sciences and humanities research are needed. The engagement of multiple disciplines, alongside regulators and the public, is key to ensuring that autonomous systems are developed to be used in real world situations.

This call will support seven research nodes that will undertake fundamental, creative and multidisciplinary research in a number of areas of current un-met need, each focusing on one of the following research topics: trust, responsibility, resilience, security, functionality, verifiability and governance & regulation. As this is a cross-UKRI programme, it is expected that applications will be multidisciplinary, led by and involving any discipline from across the UKRI portfolio.

The call has been launched following a separate but related call to support a Trustworthy Autonomous Systems central Hub, which will build and lead a world-leading multidisciplinary research community. The research nodes will be separate entities connected to the Hub and will be expected to collaborate broadly with other nodes, the Hub and the wider autonomous systems community. Application-oriented research may be undertaken in partnership with stakeholders and users of research, to demonstrate how the outcomes of the fundamental research might be exploited in real-world and sector-specific contexts.

Up to £20.5 million (at 80% fEC) is available to support seven research nodes. It is anticipated that each node will be of approximately £3 million (UKRI contribution). The nodes will receive financial support for approximately 42 months from 1 October 2020.

Investigators from all disciplines supported by UKRI are welcomed and encouraged to apply. Eligible organisations are Higher Education Institutes, Research Institutes and Research Organisations that can apply for funding from UKRI Research Councils. Certain Public Sector Research Establishments (PSREs) are also eligible to apply.

In light of anticipated high interest in this call, UKRI will hold a webinar on Wednesday 8 January between 13:00 and 14:00. This webinar will be an opportunity for potential applicants to ask questions about the call and the TAS programme. Attendance of the webinar is not mandatory. Applicants may register for the seminar here.

A two-stage application process will be used. The first stage requires the applicants to submit an outline proposal, which will be assessed by an external panel. Successful outline applicants will be invited to submit a full proposal.

Outline submissions should be made via Je-S by the 20 February 2020 (16:00) deadline.

More information about this research funding opportunity and the application process is available on the RESEARCHconnect funding information platform. RESEARCHconnect provides up-to-the minute content, insight and analysis on research funding news and policy. To find out more about how RESEARCHconnect can keep you in the know, and subscription fees, contact us today.