Research

Autonomous Systems

My research focuses on designing and engineering intelligent and autonomous systems for complex, real-world applications and lie at the intersection between different areas: artificial intelligence, advanced robotics and mathematical optimisation.

My goal is to create machines that can seamlessly support humans in undertaking sophisticated tasks that, going beyond perception and pattern matching, require deliberation at the cognitive level.

I have done extensive research on AI planning and scheduling, multi-agent systems, probabilistic reasoning, combinatorial optimisation and human/machine interaction. 

Extreme Environments

My expertise is on cutting-edge technology for challenging environments. I have worked in several domains, including space mission operations, nuclear decommissioning, mining, underwater operations, surveillance, offshore energy and disaster response. 

Currently, I am the co-PI of three Innovate UK projects concerning AI and robotics in extreme environments:

  • Connect-R, the second-largest project ever funded by IUK (£6m), concerns a self-building, modular robot that assembles itself to provide structure in unstructured hazardous environments.

  • MIMRee is a large project (£4.2m) that aims to develop the first fully autonomous multi-robot platform for the inspection, maintenance and repair of offshore wind farms.

  • Prometheus (£2 ) focuses on building an autonomous, reconfigurable drone for the inspection of confined spaces, such as underground mines.

​In all those projects, I am responsible for the design and implementation of the robots' autonomy architecture, which makes them capable of undertaking sophisticated tasks without close human supervision.

I am also the co-PI of the NERC-funded project Net Zero Oceanographic Capability and SMaILE, funded by Compagnia di San Paolo. Finally, I lead a Leverhulme grant on using game theory for large-scale, hybrid, decision-making problems.

Learn more about my Projects.

Theory and Practice

While seeking to build systems capable of working in the real world, I have maintained a keen interest in theoretical research. My goal has always been to elicit fundamental research questions from practical problems and, at the same time, to transfer theoretical insights into practical domains.

 

My work on sequence submodularity, Through the Lens of Sequence Submodularity, has recently received a Best Paper Honourable Mention Award at the top conference in automated planning and scheduling (ICAPS-20). It has also been published by the journal of Artificial Intelligence (AIJ - 6,628 impact factor).

 

Learn more about my Publications.

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© 2021 by Sara Bernardini PhD