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The UK at AAAS 2020

The UK at AAAS 2020

The annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) is taking place in Seattle from 13 -16 February. The UK is being represented by many academic and industry experts, speaking on a broad range of topics, including climate change, nanotechnology mapping human cells and quantum cloud computing.

UKRI will be representing the UK research community with an exhibition stand and international reception that demonstrates how Artificial Intelligence (AI) is going to be a huge part of the world of tomorrow; the application of AI in everyday life and in the academic landscape, is going to have a major impact on the way we live and the way we conduct our research.

The exhibit stands will share research findings and stories spanning climate change, AI in the home and the creative industries. UKRI will also be hosting the AAAS international reception where visitors can network and learn about more UKRI-funded research projects, including autonomous flying robots and the application of AI in the music industry.

UKRI is joined in Seattle by Cranfield University, Abertay University, the University of Sussex, the University of Sheffield and Bristol Robotics Laboratory and HealthTech Hub.


InGAME Growing the global video gaming market

The video gaming market is a big business across the world – growing at more than 10 per cent each year and doubling in size since 2010. The research-powered InGame partnership will be showcasing four of the games developed by researchers at Abertay University, in Dundee, using VR headsets and games controllers. Dundee has become one of the global centres of the video gaming industry. It is part of a network of cluster-based Research and Development Partnerships across the four nations of the UK, all designed to help power the £100 billion creative industries. Two-thirds of households in the UK now regularly play video games and world-famous games, such as Grand Theft Auto and Minecraft, have links to this centre of creativity. Over the next five years the Abertay University team will be working with partners such as the BBC, Microsoft and Sony, to maximise the potential of emerging new gaming technology and looking to reach new markets in a sector worth more than $138 billion globally.

Pepper -  A social care robot for the house

By 2020 we will face a shortage of up to 2 million health and social care workers across Europe. ‘Pepper - a robot for the house’ is a project that focuses on the use of socially assistive robots to help people in need of social care engage in healthy activities such as exercise. The team from Bristol Robotics Laboratory are investigating the use of robots and intelligent technologies to encourage healthy living and support the ageing UK population. This work considers how social robots might support and motivate rehabilitation patients to engage in therapeutic exercises and activities at home, in between therapy sessions. Key areas of work for the project include:

• Developing social robot companions for motivation, prompting and wellbeing

• Developing smart home ecosystems for assisted living

• Developing physically assistive robot systems for assisted living and healthcare

Digital Environment - Discovering Environmental science through shared VR

NERC-funded researchers at Cranfield University are using shared virtual reality (VR) exhibits to showcase NERC science through their ‘Digital Environment’. Using superimposed graphics in VR from subjects like soil, climate, coastal erosion, pollution and weather, their virtual environment visualises the datasets of important research and research assets such as the Antarctic station, FAAM aircrafts, marine robots and NERC’s Boaty McBoatface, an Autosub Long Range (ALR). Participants can gather round with 3D goggles and a share a Virtual tour of NERC facilities or research findings, including a show of rover robots moving in the ocean and data being collected.

Brains on Board - Reverse-engineering bee brains

Brains on Board is an EPSRC-funded cross-discipline exhibit led by researchers from the BET Lab at the University of Sheffield. The project focuses on AI and autonomous robotics. One of the largest challenges with autonomous robotics is the understanding of their surroundings and making sure they have a high resilience to environment uncertainty and change. Animals solve these problems through pattern detection and behavioural biologists and neuroscientists are realising that ‘small’-brained animals, such as insects, have extremely rich behavioural repertoires which help with this. The honeybee is a perfect example, and through their research the Brains on Board team are showing how bees have very sophisticated learning and navigation abilities. By studying them researchers are aiming to reverse engineer their thought process and pattern recognition to use in creating AI-run autonomous systems.

MIMIC - Creating music with AI and machine learning

MIMIC stands for Musically Intelligent Machines Interacting Creatively – it’s a project that demonstrates the emerging exploration of musical machine learning and machine listening. Researchers from the University of Sussex will show how they have designed this collaborative platform as an interactive online coding environment, engineered to bring new technologies to artists, composers, musicians and performers all over the world. The MIMIC platform has a built-in audio engine, machine learning and machine listening tools that makes it easy for creative coders to get started using these techniques in their own artistic projects. Over the next three years the AHRC-funded project, run by teams at Goldsmiths College, Durham University and the University of Sussex, aim to integrate new creative systems into the platform so that it’s easier for musicians and artists to use.


UKRI are hosting ‘Data-driven Innovations in Coastal Resilience Assessment: US and UK Perspectives – a panel discussion led by NERC with guest speakers from Cranfield University. There will also be a series of on-stand lectures from exhibitors, researchers and UKRI-funded experts.

Click here for all other sessions from the UK delegation.

To find out what’s happening:

If your institution wishes to further promote your work through sponsored activities with AAAS, please contact meetings@aaas.org. Find out more about the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Read more in The impact of UK-US research collaboration (PDF, 1.1MB), a snapshot of some of the ways UK and US researchers have maximised the impact of their work through collaboration.

Brochure on the impact of UK-US research collaboration (PDF, 8.3MB): more than a dozen case studies of UK and US researchers working together to achieve social, health, environmental and economic impact.