Electrical and Electronic Engineering welcomes a new Lecturer


Dr Ad Spiers

Dr Adam "Ad" Spiers brings experience in robot hardware design that will provide opportunities for collaborative research and creative teaching.

Ad completed his PhD at the Bristol Robotics Laboratory. He has worked at Yale University and most recently at the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems in Stuttgart. As a Lecturer in our department, his expertise will complement our current research in human-centred robotics, and offers great potential to the teaching curriculum, including exciting student projects.

Ad’s research is focused on movement and sensing in natural and artificial hand/arm systems, such as the development of dexterous robotic hands.

Active Finger
‘Active Finger’ — a robot hand that can change the friction properties of its fingers, to allow dexterous manipulation. Systems like this can be developed at a fraction of the cost and complexity of more standard approaches.

A major feature of his work is the design of haptic technology — communication through touch-based interfaces. For example, this shape-changing hand-held device (below), which can help pedestrians use navigation systems like Google Maps, without relying on visual or audio cues.

The S-BAN (Shape-Based Assistance for Navigation) - the S-Bahn is also the name of the subway system in Stuttgart, where he has been based. The end of the device pivots and extends in the user’s hand relative to navigation instructions. Users can perceive this change in the shape and adjust their walking direction, which updates as they get closer to the target or veer off course.

Ad's work has also involved improving the design of artificial limbs by understanding how people use existing prosthetic devices. “In addition to lab-based motion capture experiments, I led a novel study where we used head-worn GoPro cameras to record videos of unilateral amputees’ hands and prosthetic devices as they performed many hours of self-selected household tasks in their own homes.” 

Outside of research, he is having an exciting year: “In my spare time I produce electronic music and DJ at various events and locations; this year I had my first song released via a record label. I’m doing less musical activity at the moment as I became a father in June, which is also extremely exciting.”

“I’m very much looking forward to being a member of a vibrant university with a reputation for world-class teaching and research, and being involved with the Imperial Robotics Forum, an extremely impressive collection of research groups that spans many departments and specialties.”

Hands-on teaching

Like many of us in EEE, Ad has loved machines and robots since childhood, and is really looking forward to teaching. As well as planning future research-led student projects involving robotics, haptics and human motion capture, he is already involved in developing engaging lab exercises and challenges for our new MSc in Applied Machine Learning which starts in October.

“I aim to set practically-grounded technical projects where creativity and innovation are rewarded. My own final year project was my favourite part of my degree, and subsequently led to my passion for research in disruptive technologies.”

Welcome to the EEE Community Ad — we look forward to meeting you!


Jane Horrell

Jane Horrell
Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering

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Contact details

Tel: +44 (0)20 7594 6263
Email: j.horrell@imperial.ac.uk

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