David Howard

My academic career began in Leeds --- I spent around 4 years at the University of Leeds where I earned a BSc in Computing and MSc in Cognitive Systems. Throughout my BSc and MSc I became especially inspired by the field of biologically-inspired computing - this can be best thought of as observing some facet of nature, forming a working abstraction of a natural process (for example, ant pheremone behaviour), adapting it for use of a computer, and using it to solve problems in ways that more traditional methods can't.Inspiration for much of my work implicitly owes a lot to Darwinian theories of evolution. For example, selection pressure - the infamous "survival of the fittest" - is used to keep high-quality individuals in the population whilst killing off individuals that are of little utility. In addition, abstractions of both sexual and asexual reproduction can be seen as a means of locating and enhancing desirable traits within certain rules.My main area of application is in autonomous robotics - robots that can flexibly learn and adapt to their surroundings by continuously updating their knowledge base in a self-guided manner. Extensions include features such as self-modifying memory and self-repair in the event of hardware failure. I'm currently looking at applying evolutionary computing to the control and higher-level decision making processes of quadrotor UAVs, and working within the AIM Future Science Platform to create robots that can morphologically adapt to their tasks and environments.

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