The 2013 Oxford London Lecture

This year's prestigious, annual Oxford London Lecture, hosted by the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Oxford, was given by Professor Paul Newman of Oxford University’s Department of Engineering Science, and supported by the Romanes Fund and The Guardian newspaper.

The 2013 Oxford London Lecture - VC
The Vice-Chancellor is pictured here introducing the 2013 Oxford London Lecture
Over 200 pupils from London schools, members of the University alumni, corporate partners and representatives from goverment and academia recently attended the lecture at Church House, Westminster.

It looked at the science behind modern robotics to expose the myths about robots promoted in popular culture and the real difficulties involved in getting them to navigate and understand the world around them. It explained how, in the 21st Century, robots are already working behind the scenes to explore, labour, and build for us, and generally keep our world moving: they are already proving their worth in our factories and ports, and even on other planets.

The 2013 Oxford London Lecture - Paul Newman
Professor Paul Newman head of The Oxford Mobile Robotics Group
Professor Paul Newman said: "Humans are the ultimate toolmakers and in many ways robots are the ultimate tool; operating on the frontier where the physical world we see meets the invisible world of data and computation. But if robots are such powerful tools how should we use them? What are their strengths and limitations? What sort of difference can we expect them to make to our daily lives?"

Drawing on decades of robotics research at Oxford and elsewhere, the Lecture examined how close we are to being able to answer these and other questions and explore how the next generation of robots will soon be rolling out of the lab and onto our roads. As recently as February 2013 Professor Newman and colleagues showed off pioneering robotic technology from Oxford University that enables a car to 'drive itself' for stretches of a route:

The 2013 Oxford London Lecture - Paul Newman with journalist from The Guardian
Professor Paul Newman is seen here with Alok Jha, Science Correspondent at The Guardian. Alok Jha chaired a question and answer session after Professor Newman’s Lecture.
Professor Newman added: "Transport is one area of our lives where robots can make a huge difference: helping to ease the traffic chaos that chokes our cities and makes the daily commute or school run such a misery,’ Professor Newman said. ‘As our lives become ever more hectic and the demands on our time more pressing we will explore how robotics can make our lives safer, more efficient, and, certainly, more fun."

To view the 2013 Oxford London Lecture online please visit: