The primary objectives of this international workshop are to celebrate the life and pioneering work of William Grey Walter, take stock of the development of the field of biologically-inspired robotics since his death, inform attendees of the latest developments in the field in the UK and abroad, and to document the state-of-the-art in a high-quality post-workshop publication. It is also intended to foster a spirit of multidisciplinary collaboration between physical scientists, computer scientists and engineers, and biological scientists.
Both the timing and the location of the workshop are significant. 2002 marks the 25th anniversary of the death of W. Grey Walter, the British neurophysiologist and amateur engineer who built simple artificial creatures (`tortoises') as a way of studying links between basic brain function and observable behaviour. In so doing, almost single-handedly, he gave birth to the now-vibrant research fields of behaviour-based robotics, autonomous intelligent agents, artificial life and animat studies. For much of his life, Grey Walter worked at the Burden Neurological Institute in Bristol - close to the workshop venue at Hewlett-Packard's Bristol laboratories.