Reconfigurable Autonomy




The Reconfigurable Autonomy project is an EPSRC-funded collaboration between Computer Science researchers at the University of Liverpool, Autonomous Control Systems and Astronautics researchers at the University of Southampton and Spacecraft Autonomy researchers at Surrey Space centre.

Department of Computer Science, University of Liverpool
Department of Automatic Control and Systems Engineering, University of Sheffield
Surrey Space Centre, University of Surrey


Three post-doctoral researchers will be working on this project:

Jonathan Aitken, Sheffield
Elisa Cucco, Liverpool
Affan Shaukat, Surrey



As computational and engineering applications become more sophisticated, the need for autonomous systems that can act intelligently without direct human intervention increases. Yet the autonomous control at the heart of many such systems is often ad-hoc and opaque. Since the cost of failure in critical systems is high, a more reliable, understandable and consistent approach is needed. Thus, in this project we aim to provide a rational agent architecture that controls autonomous decision-making, is re-usable and generic, and can be configured for many different autonomous platforms. In partnership with the industrial collaborators we aim to show how such reconfigurable autonomy can be achieved in relevant applications. The main objectives of the project are as follows.

  1. to define a core hybrid agent architecture, based on that introduced within the [EASS] project, but incorporating key elements from intelligent systems work at Surrey;
  2. to investigate how a library of “environmental interfaces” can be incorporated into this architecture, where typical elements within the library corresponding to special control systems, networks interfaces, or infrastructure;
  3. to investigate and incorporate multi-agent aspects when multiple autonomous components are involved;
  4. to consider the (formal) analysis of reliability of the core/generic architecture;
  5. in collaboration with the industrial project partners, to show how this generic architecture can be instantiated to some of the areas they are interested in; and
  6. to demonstrate a selection of real autonomous systems in relevant (possibly hardware) testbeds and to evaluate the practical efficacy of the instantiated architecture.


  • Jonathan M. Aitken, Affan Shaukat, Elisa Cucco, Louise A. Dennis, Sandor M. Veres, Yang Gao, Michael Fisher, Jeffrey A. Kuo, Thomas Robinson, Paul E. Mort. Autonomous Nuclear Waste Management. IEEE Intelligent Systems. In Press
  • Louise A. Dennis, Jonathan M. Aitken, Joe Collenette, Elisa Cucco, Maryam Kamali, Owen McAree, Affan Shaukat, Katie Atkinson, Yang Gao, Sandor Veres, and Michael Fisher. Agent-based Autonomous Systems and Abstraction Engines: Theory meets Practice. Towards Autonomous Robotic Systems, 17th Annual Conference (TAROS 2016), 2016. Springer LNCS 9716, pages 75-86.
  • Louise A. Dennis and Michael Fisher. Actions with Durations and Failures in BDI Languages. Proceedings of the 21st European Conference on Artificial Intelligence (ECAI 2014), Frontiers in Artificial Intelligence and Applications, volume 263, pp.995-996.
  • Louise A. Dennis, Michael Fisher, Jonathan M. Aitken, Sandor M. Veres, Yang Gao, Affan Shaukat, Guy Burroughes. Reconfigurable Autonomy. Künstliche Intelligenz (2014) 28:199–207.
  • Jonathan M. Aitken, Sandor Veres, and Mark Judge. Adaptation of System Configuration under the Robot Operating System. Proceedings of the Internation Federation of Automatic Control World Congress 2014 (To Appear).
  • Affan Shaukat, Conrad Spiteri, Yang Gao, Said Al-Milli, and Abhinav Bajpai. Quasi-Thematic Features Detection And Tracking For Future Rover Long-Distance Autonomous Navigation. Proceedings, 12th Symposium on Advanced Space Technologies in Robotics and Automation, 15-17 May, 2013, ESA/ESTEC, Noordwijk, the Netherlands.

Project Details