Opteran Technologies closes £2.1 million seed round

24 November 2020

James and Alex’s spinout Opteran Technologies today announced its £2.1 million seed funding round, led by IQ Capital, with participation from Episode 1, Seraphim, and Join. The investment will enable them to further develop and commercialise their core ‘Natural Intelligence’ technology stack for autonomous systems, which is based on core IP developed during the Brains on Board research project.

The funding announcement received widespread coverage including in mainstream media:

How insect brains could help build technology to steer driverless cars’, The Telegraph, 24 November 2020.

Opteran Technologies pre-seed funding secured

23 September 2019

James and Alex, together with David Rajan, have secured £230,000 of pre-seed investment from the Northern Triangle Initiative, part of the Connecting Capabilities Fund of the British Business Bank, to move Opteran Technologies towards the market.

Opteran Technologies is commercialising research undertaken during the Green Brain and Brains on Board projects, and is developing novel solutions to autonomy that do not rely on machine learning.

Swarm Awareness grant funded

5 October 2018

James and Giovanni have been awarded the basic research grant Swarm Awareness from the ONRG. The Swarm Awareness project aims to endow a swarm with awareness of its own state, thus allowing individual agents to reach a consensus on the global swarm state.

Particular examples of states to measure are swarm size (number of agents), fraction of the swarm committed to a unique decision (quorum), and super-threshold decision (decision-state). For open positions, visit the project web page.

Andrew Barron wins Leverhulme grant

30 November 2017

Andrew Barron, based at Macquarie University and collaborator on the Brains on Board project, has won a prestigious Leverhulme Trust Visiting Professorship to eight months in the lab over the next two years, working on modelling the honeybee brain.

EPSRC Programme Grant funded

10 October 2016

James is lead investigator on a new £4.8 million EPSRC Programme Grant entitled ‘Brains on Board: Neuromorphic Control of Flying Robots’. Starting on 30 December 2016 for five years and including five investigators across three universities, this project will fuse cutting edge neuroscience, behavioural biology, computational modelling and computer hardware to design lightweight efficient on-board controllers for autonomous flying robots, inspired by the honeybee brain.

The project partners are:

BBC Radio 4 – Digital Human

27 April 2015

James discussed robots, bees and Turing tests in the latest episode of BBC Radio 4’s ‘Digital Human’, as part of a discussion on the relationship between technology and the natural world.

Social evolution book published

24 April 2015

James’ monograph ‘Social evolution and inclusive fitness theory: an introduction’ is now available, published by Princeton. The book aims to provide an introductory treatment of the logic of inclusive fitness theory, including its recent high profile criticisms. The presentation is aimed at quantitative experimental biologists and theoreticians.

Marshall, J A R (2015) Social evolution and inclusive fitness theory: an introduction. Princeton University Press.

BBC Click features Green Brain project

4 April 2015

The Green Brain team appeared on the BBC Click programme in an episode devoted to agriculture and the importance of honeybees.

Royal Society International Exchange grant

18 March 2015

James and ARC Fellow Andrew Barron (Macquarie University) have been awarded a Royal Society International Exchanges grant to build new collaborations between the EPSRC-funded Green Brain project, and Andrew’s work on invertebrate neuroscience.

As part of the collaboration researchers will make short visits to each other’s institutions. BET Lab PhD student Lianne Meah has also been awarded an International Macquarie University Research Scholarship to spend one year studying in Andrew’s lab towards a joint degree between the two institutions.

Cognitive Neuroethology at Macquarie University

Green Brain project

ERC Consolidator Grant – DiODe

16 March 2015

James has been announced as one of the 2015 awardees of the European Research Council’s Consolidator Grants, for his project entitled ‘Distributed Algorithms for Optimal Decision Making’ (DiODe).

James will continue his work on distributed value-sensitive decision-making algorithms, inspired by swarming honeybees, deploying these in hundreds of micro-robots, and testing for implementation of these algorithms in diverse biological decision-making systems, from single cells up to primate brains.

External collaborators include Princeton University, the University of Oxford, and the Max Planck Institute of Ornithology at Kontanz, among others.

ERC press release – 12 March 2015 (PDF, 241KB)

New Scientist coverage of Green Brain

16 November 2013

James was interviewed by the New Scientist as part of a cover-featured article on robot bees covering the Green Brain project, and the Harvard-led Robobees project.

James appears on the Science Channel

19 June 2013

James discusses his research on collective behaviour in social insect colonies, as part of the ‘Through the Wormhole with Morgan Freeman’ episode on ‘How do Aliens Think?’, airing tonight at 10pm ET/PT.