Published: 16 September 2019

Surrey researcher wins coveted Sullivan Doctoral Thesis Prize

A University of Surrey researcher has been awarded the highly coveted Sullivan Doctoral Thesis Prize by the British Machine Vision Association (BMVA) for research in artificial intelligence’s (AI) developing visual scene understanding.


The prize was established in honour of the late Professor Geoff Sullivan and his advancements in the field of computer vision in the UK. The yearly award is given to the best doctoral thesis submitted to a UK university in the field of computer or natural vision.

Dr Oscar Mendez Maldonado, from the University of Surrey’s Centre for Vision and Speech and Signal Processing (CVSSP), has won this year’s award for his thesis – Collaborative strategies for autonomous localisation, 3D reconstruction and pathplanning, which discusses how to allow robots to autonomously explore an environment, generate an understanding of it and try to perform tasks within it by using human-inspired methods, AI and deep learning. This involves exploration of "emergent behaviours," which are strategies the robots use that have not been "hard-coded" into them. 

This is the second consecutive year in which a researcher from CVSSP has been awarded the Sullivan Prize, with Karel Lebeda last year’s winner for his thesis on 2D and 3D tracking and modelling.

Dr Mendez Maldonado, Research Fellow in Computer Vision at CVSSP, said: “I am honoured to receive the Sullivan Prize from the BMVA and I want to thank everyone at CVSSP for their support. It is my hope that we can use the insights presented in my thesis to advance the field towards better robots, self-driving cars and autonomous agents in general. In fact, we have already started to apply some of the work from my thesis to autonomously parking cars using vision-based localisation.”

Professor Richard Bowden, Professor of Computer Vision and Machine Learning at the University of Surrey and Dr Mendez Maldonado’s doctorial supervisor, said: “I’m delighted that Dr Mendez Maldonado is receiving this tremendous honour. The fact that researchers from CVSSP under my supervision have won the prize two years in a row fills me with great pride -- long may this run continue.”

Professor Adrian Hilton, Director of CVSSP at the University of Surrey, said: “This is an excellent achievement for both Dr Oscar Mendez Maldonado and his supervisor Professor Richard Bowden, illustrating the outstanding quality of research and supervision taking place in CVSSP. This is the fourth BMVA Sullivan Doctoral Thesis Prize awarded to CVSSP researchers recognising our leading advances in the field of computer vision and AI for machine perception.”

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