Robotics and Everyday Life: interdisciplinary conversations and making

EOI: Closing Monday 24th May 2021, 4pm



Expressions of Interest: Closing Monday 24th May 2021 at 4pm


The University of Bristol’s Brigstow Institute and Bristol Robotics Laboratory invite you to take part in a series of online workshops to explore Robotics and Everyday Life. After the workshops participants can apply for modest project funding to take forward the collaboration and ideas. The workshops and subsequent project funding will be supported through an award to the University of Bristol from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) which is intended to foster new collaborations and fund short term, early-stage impact projects between academics in the Faculty of Engineering, academics in other faculties across the university, and creative and community partners.

This is an opportunity for researchers from different disciplines and those involved in creative endeavours and community partners to meet, explore and discuss the intersection of robotics and everyday life. A series of workshops will allow participants to take the first steps in understanding different disciplinary perspectives and develop early-stage impact collaborations and co-produced projects. The funding will support projects that creatively and collaboratively explore some aspect of the Robotics and Everyday Life theme. We are particularly interested in projects that might find it difficult to find early-stage funding because of the novelty of the interdisciplinarity, partnerships, ideas, methods or approaches, but have potential for impact on future thinking, impactful research and collaborative activities.

Themed workshops and funding

There will be an introductory workshop on Wednesday 9th June,  14.00-15.00 with subsequent themed workshops, followed by a showcase in March 2022. After the three themed workshops (see below) participants can apply for modest funding (c. £12k) to take forward the collaboration and ideas. We anticipate funding up to 6 projects. To be eligible for the funding you will need to attend the introductory workshop and one or more themed workshops – if a team applies for subsequent funding as a result of these workshops it will need to include someone from the university who’s benefited (directly or from the knowledge generated) from EPSRC funding in the past. Successful applicants will also be required to share the outcomes of their project at a Showcase event in March 2022 (Date TBC).

The three themed workshops are:

Autonomy and Anarchy: Wednesday 16 June, 13:00 – 14:30 – Are autonomous machines really autonomous?  Can they and should they be governed?  Controlled?  Organized?  By whom?  Or can machines organize themselves?  What does this mean for human organization?  Can robots have freedom?  What does it mean if we deny it?  If a machine is predictable, is it autonomous?  Can it surprise us?  Delight us?  Shock us?  How can everyday encounters with autonomous vehicles, AI and robots bring joy and serendipity?

Everyday elements – earth, water and sky: Wednesday 23 June, 13:30 – 15:00 – Picture a world with robots everywhere, digging beneath us, swimming around or within us, flying above us.  Where is the balance between the functional and imaginative?  How can you recreate a sense of magnitude, immensity and awe?  Is there joy in a robot being in its element?  Is there romance in a robot fulfilling its craft?  How can you integrate the practicalities of robotics with the historical and cultural situating of earth, water and sky?

Sense and intelligence: Tuesday 29 June, 15:00 – 16:30 – Whose sense and intelligence? Can a robot sense like a human?  Can it have sense?  What is intelligence and therefore what is artificial intelligence?  Do we need to rethink the underlying assumptions around what we consider ‘intelligence’ to be?

Key dates and activities:

  • Closing date for Expressions of InterestMonday 24th May 2021 at 4pm
  • Introductory workshop: Wednesday 9th June, 14.00 – 15.00
  • Autonomy and Anarchy: Wednesday 16 June, 13:00 – 14:30
  • Everyday elements – earth, water and sky: Wednesday 23 June: 13:30 – 15:00
  • Sense and intelligence: Tuesday 29 June, 15:00 – 16:30
  • Closing date for all funding applications: w/c 26th July 2021 (Funding limits: c.£12000 per award; around 6 awards)
  • Outcomes: by w/e Friday 10th September 2021
  • Period of collaboration/making: September 2021 – March 2022
  • Showcase of projects: March 2022

How to get involved

Applications are welcome from academics in all faculties of the University of Bristol, creative and community practitioners. To take part, please complete and submit this short application form  by 16:00 on Monday 24th May. Please answer the questions as fully as possible. We will let you know the outcome of your application via email by 1st June 2021.

We are keen to hear from Early Career Researchers who we hope will particularly benefit from opportunities to develop understandings of different approaches drawn from other academic and creative disciplines, and to make new connections with people working in different fields and sectors.

We are also available if you have any questions about the process or the content of the workshops. Please email and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.

We hope you will be able to join us.