Hub Director

Professor Sir Martin Sweeting OBE FRS FREng FIET FRAeS

Starting in 1979 with research at the University of Surrey, Sir Martin pioneered highly capable modern small satellites utilizing consumer electronics to change the economics of space that laid the foundations of the present commercial ‘Newspace’ industry worldwide. He is widely regarded internationally as the ‘father of small satellites’.

In 1985, he founded a University spin-off company (SSTL) that has designed, built, launched and operated in orbit 65 nano, micro and mini-satellite missions – as well as 34 GNSS payloads for the European Galileo constellation.  

As Chairman of the Surrey Space Centre and a distinguished professor at the University of Surrey, Sir Martin leads a team of academic faculty and doctoral researchers investigating advanced small satellite concepts and techniques, with a particular interest in space robotics for in-orbit debris removal and the assembly of large space telescopes. He has supervised over 200 graduated PhD students and has over 350 publications.

The relationship between the Surrey Space Centre and SSTL is an exemplar of real academic-commercial synergy.

Sir Martin is Fellow of the Royal Society, the Royal Academy of Engineering, the IET and the Institute of Physics.  Knighted by HM The Queen, he has been identified as one of the 20 most influential engineers in the UK.


Professor Sethu Vijayakumar FRSE is Director of the Edinburgh Centre for Robotics and holds a Personal Chair in Robotics at Edinburgh University. He has world leading expertise in robotics, data driven motion planning, motor control, and optimization in autonomous systems, and his latest project involves a collaboration with NASA Johnson Space Centre on the Valkyrie humanoid robot being prepared for unmanned robotic pre-deployment missions to Mars. He is the Hub’s Research Theme Lead on locomotion (Theme 2).

Professor Yang Gao FIET FRAeS is the Professor of Space Autonomous Systems at the Surrey Space Centre and the Head of STAR-LAB at the University of Surrey. She is an internationally renowned space roboticist, specializing in sensing, perception, navigation, control, autonomy and biomimetic mechanisms, Heis actively involved in design and development of real-world space missions like ESA's ExoMars, Proba3 and LUCE-ice mapper, UK's MoonLITE/Moonraker, and China's Chang'E3, etc. She is the founding PI & Hub Director of FAIR-SPACE, and currently the Hub’s Research Theme Lead on sensors, perception, AI and GNC (Theme 1 & 3).

Professor Michael Fisher FBCS FIET is the Director of a multi-disciplinary Centre for Autonomous Systems Technology at the University of Liverpool, and is an internationally leading researcher in formal verification of autonomous systems, particularly safety, reliability and ethics. He leads the UK Network on the V&V of Autonomous Systems, and has led space RAS research on both formation-flying satellites and astronaut-robot teamwork with NASA-Ames. He is the Hub’s Research Theme Lead on system engineering research (Theme 5).

Professor Samia Nefti-Meziani is the Director of Centre for Autonomous Systems & Advanced Robotics, and Chair of Robotics at Salford. She has 25 years of experience in the development of concepts, mechanisms and algorithms in the areas of embodied intelligence, soft computing and robotics and pioneered the first application of soft robotics systems in manufacturing. She contributes to the Hub’s research on mechanism and locomotion (Theme 2).

Professor Carsten Maple FBCS is Director of the GCHQ/EPSRC Centre of Excellence in Cyber Security Research and Professor of Cyber Systems Engineering at Warwick. His expertise in developing secure, resilient and trustworthy systems is recognised internationally, being a High Level Advisor to the European Commission, and PI/Co-I of international robotics network projects like CAPRI and PETRAS. He contributes to the Hub’s Research Themes on trusted robotic systems (Theme 1,3&5).



Dr Saber Fallah is a Senior Lecturer in Vehicle and Mechatronic Systems at Surrey and the Director of Connected Autonomous Vehicles (CAV) lab, specializing in advanced control, estimation and optimization for autonomous vehicles (Themes 2&3).

Dr Robert Merrifield is the Deputy Director of the Hamlyn Centre at Imperial College London, and the Coordinator of the EPSRC-funded UK-RAS Network, the EPSRC RAS Capital Equipment Grant (>£6M) and the UK Robotics Week’s Robot Challenges (Themes 1&4).

Dr Clare Dixon is a Reader in the Department of Computer Science at  Liverpool and led the Department’s Robotics and Autonomous Systems Research Group from 2015-2017.  She has over 25 years experience in the area of formal verification and automated reasoning (Themes 4&5).

Dr Zhibin Li is a Lecturer in Robotics and Control at Edinburgh, and leads the Advanced Robotics Group and a PI of Edinburgh’s Valkyrie Lab, focusing on robust control, optimization and machine learning for dynamic robot motion and behavior  (Theme 2). 

Dr Louise Dennis is a Lecturer at Liverpool and specializes in verifiable autonomous systems with an emphasis on agent-based reasoning, planning and machine ethics. She also has extensive experience with public engagement on robotics (Themes 3&5). 

Dr Alexei Lisitsa is a Lecturer in the Department of Computer Science at Liverpool. His research concerns automated reasoning, methods for automated verification, and computer security (Themes 3&5).

Dr Steve Davis is a Lecturer in Manufacturing, Automation and Robotics at Salford. He developed the world’s smallest variable stiffness, high DOF dexterous hand and a low cost dexterous gripper capable of blind grasping (Theme 2).

Professor Tim Watson is the Director of the WMG Cyber Security Centre at Warwick. He has over 25 years of academic and industry experience currently working on protection of infrastructure against cyber-attack applicable to space RAS (Themes 1&5). 


Dr Emma Wright

Dr Emma Wright
Hub Programme Manager,
University of Surrey

Ann Swift

Ann Swift
Hub Partnership Manager,
University of Surrey

Jane Adkins
Dr Richard Gillham Darnley

Jane Adkins
Hub Programme Officer,
University of Surrey

Dr Richard Gillham Darnley
Hub Lab Manager,
University of Surrey


Michele Dunn
Hub Programme Manager (Interim), University of Surrey




Nikos Mavrakis,
Visual based autonomous robotic grasping and manipulation.

Dr Muhammad Zeeshan Babar, Postdoc
High-fidelity GNC system for space rover autonomous robots.

Dr Mohamed Alkalla,
Energy-efficient planetary drilling and sampling.

Dr Pedro Proenca,
Visual perception for on-orbit operations based on robotic vision and machine learning.

Dr Zhou (Daniel) Hao, Postdoc
Robust GNC for orbital manipulation.

Dr Arthur Bouton,
Planetary rover mobility for uneven terrains and loose soils.

Dr Ka Ho (Xavier) Pang, Postdoc
Numerical modelling and optimization of biomimetic planetary drilling mechanisms.

Dr Craig Pitcher, Postdoc
Integrated design and testing for planetary drilling.

Ainur Begalinova,
3D sensing and perception.

Arunkumar Rathinam,
Spacecraft dynamics control.


Dr Ash Rajendra Babu,
Path planning.

Marco Visca, PhD student

Marco Visca,
PhD student
Reinforcement learning control of planetary rovers.


Thomas Barbier,
PhD student
Active debris removal 

Nikolaos Sarantinoudis,
PhD student
3D sensing and perception.



Dr Rafael C. Cardoso,
Multi-Agent Systems, Multi-Agent Planning, and Formal Verification.

Dr Marie Farrell,
Combining formal  methods to reason about and provide certification evidence for robotics in hazardous environments.

Dr Georgios Kourtis, Postdoc

Dr Georgios Kourtis,
Complexity of reasoning and connections to knowledge representation, database theory, and formal verification. 



Dr Fani Deligianni,

Astronaut helmet and spacesuit based on wearable technologies/AR.

Dr Bruno Gil-Rosa,

Analogue and digital electronics for acquisition, processing and transmission of physiological signals.

Dr Panagiotis Kassanos,
Wearable sensors for astronauts body movements.

Daniel Freer,
PhD student
Brain-computer interface and smart, dexterous space glove.

Rejin Varghese,
PhD student
Wearable exosuit for physical therapy and assistance to astronauts in space.

Stephanie Pau,
Wearables, health and space.



Dr Quentin Rouxel, Postdoc

Dr Quentin Rouxel,
Control and motion re-targeting on humanoid robot Valkyrie for tele-operation and manipulation tasks.

Dr Vladimir Ivan,
Statistical Machine Learning and Motor Control.


Songyan Xin,
Motion planning and control for legged robots



Dr Hu Yuan, Postdoc

Dr Hu Yuan,
Heterogeneous wireless networks, complex network, and IoT physical layer security.

Dr Matthew Bradbury,
Privacy, security and trust issues in space robotics and autonomous systems.



Dr Saber Mahboubi, Postdoc

Dr Saber Mahboubi,
Dexterous end-effectors and grippers, bionic systems, variable impedance mechanisms, robust control and artificial intelligence.

Andrew Baker, Robotics technician

Andrew Baker,
Robotics technician
Robotics, Electronics, Industrial control systems, Automation, Manufacturing, CAD/CAM.

Samuel Wandai Kihara, PhD student

Samuel Wandai Kihara,
PhD student
Mechatronics, Soft robotics, computer vision, Artificial intelligence.