Bristol Researcher Wins Nesta’s Tipping Point Prize
30 May 2019
Bristol researcher, Dr Edmund Hunt has won the prestigious Nesta Tipping Point Prize for the best article written about technologies whose time has come, but which might be overlooked in the media and investor hype cycle.
The award is run by Nesta, a UK-based innovation foundation originally founded in 1998 that focuses on developing ideas and technologies that have the potential to benefit society. Edmund won the prize for his fantastic article Swarms of Robots: Much More Than the Sum of Their Parts, which explores how studying the animal kingdom can help us to develop robots that can co-operate.
Edmund tells us more about how he came to study swarm robotics and what led him to entering the Tipping Point Prize. He explains, “I moved to Bristol in 2012 to do a PhD in complexity sciences, little did I know my thesis would be about collective animal behaviour in ant colonies. It just so happens that a new field of robotics, called swarm robotics began to take off in the early 2000s with direct inspiration from science's growing understanding of biological self-organisation”. After spending a postdoc year in the US, Edmund then returned to Bristol as a Doctoral Prize Fellow based in the Faculty of Engineering to translate his research into the context of swarm robotics.
He explains that “When I saw the Tipping Point Prize advertised I immediately wrote my initial entry pitch. I enjoy writing and so it was a pleasure to spend some time constructing an essay. I was very happy to be chosen as one of nine finalists but to win is a real encouragement to spend more time on public communication of my research. I’m lucky that swarm robotics is a field that is both fascinating, because it’s so intimately linked with nature, and just starting to come out of the laboratory into the real world.”