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Professor Sethu Vijayakumar FRSE
Professor Sethu Vijayakumar FRSE

Sethu Vijayakumar FRSE is Professor of Robotics[1] at the University of Edinburgh and a judge[2] on the BBC2 show Robot Wars. He was instrumental in bringing the first [3][4][5] NASA Valkyrie[6] humanoid robot out of the United States of America, and to Europe, where it is a focus of research at Edinburgh Centre for Robotics.[7][8]

Vijayakumar's articles on Incremental online learning in high dimensions, and Natural actor-critic, have been cited[9] over 450 times each in academic papers and he won the IEEE Robotics King-Sun Fu Memorial Best Paper Award 2013.[10]


After a PhD[11] in Computer Science and Engineering from the Tokyo Institute of Technology, Vijayakumar became a Post Doctoral Fellow in the Laboratory for Information Synthesis, RIKEN Brain Science Institute, Saitama, Japan. He worked as a research scientist at the Kawato Dynamic Brain Project, Kyoto, before heading to the University of Southern California[12] as a Presidential Postdoctoral Fellow.

In 2003, he moved to the University of Edinburgh, where he went on to become Director of the Institute for Perception, Action and Behaviour in the School of Informatics and then Co-Director[13] of Edinburgh Centre for Robotics.

In 2007 Vijayakumar was awarded a Royal Academy of Engineering Senior Research Fellowship in Learning Robotics, co-funded by Microsoft Research.[14]

He was elected[15] as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 2013.

Public engagement with scienceEdit

Vijayakumar is an active science communicator, giving public talks and media interviews. In 2015 the University of Edinburgh awarded him its annual Tam Dalyell Prize for Excellence in Engaging the Public with Science[16] and in 2016 he presented a series of robot demonstrations at the television launch[17] of BBC micro:bit live lessons. He featured in Stargazing Live with Dara O Briain, March 2017. He was a judge on the 2016-2018 revival of the robot combat TV show Robot Wars.


  1. ^ "Sethu Vijayakumar - Google Scholar Citations". Retrieved 3 May 2017.
  2. ^ "Sethu Vijayakumar". Robot Wars Wiki. Retrieved 31 October 2016.
  3. ^ "Valkyrie starts its preparations for a mission to Mars". Mail Online. Retrieved 31 October 2016.
  4. ^ "NASA's Valkyrie Humanoid Upgraded, Delivered to Robotics Labs in U.S. and Europe". IEEE Spectrum: Technology, Engineering, and Science News. Retrieved 31 October 2016.
  5. ^ "Humanoid robot Valkyrie arrives at Edinburgh University". BBC News. 4 May 2016. Retrieved 31 October 2016.
  6. ^ Kisliuk, Erin (23 September 2015). "Valkyrie". NASA. Retrieved 1 November 2016.
  7. ^ "Edinburgh-NASA Valkyrie". Retrieved 1 November 2016.
  8. ^ "Edinburgh Centre for Robotics". Retrieved 1 November 2016.
  9. ^ "Sethu Vijayakumar - Google Scholar Citations". Retrieved 31 October 2016.
  10. ^ Oyewole, Kenny. "IEEE Transactions on Robotics King-Sun Fu Memorial Best Paper Award - IEEE Robotics and Automation Society". Retrieved 31 October 2016.
  11. ^ "Vijayakumar's page on University of Edinburgh website". Retrieved 12 October 2016.
  12. ^ "Vijayakumar's profile page on University of Southern California website". Retrieved 12 October 2016.
  13. ^ "Staff list page on Edinburgh Centre for Robotics website". Retrieved 12 October 2016.
  14. ^ "RAEng News". RAEng News: 4. Spring 2008.
  15. ^ "List of Elected Fellows 2013 on Royal Society of Edinburgh website". Retrieved 12 October 2016.
  16. ^ "Tam Dalyell Prize for Excellence in Engaging the Public with Science | The University of Edinburgh". Retrieved 31 October 2016.
  17. ^ "BBC - Welcome to the micro:bit - Live Lesson". BBC. Retrieved 31 October 2016.