Dr Steve Davis BEng, MSc, PhD, FHEA

Dr Steve Davis

Department of Mechanical Engineering
Senior Research Fellow
Operational Director, The Birmingham Institute for Robotics

Contact details

School of Engineering
College of Engineering and Physical Sciences
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Dr Steve Davis has more than 25 years’ experience in the field of robotics. He is currently Senior Research Fellow in Robotics at the University of Birmingham and Operational Director of The Birmingham Institute for Robotics.

Steve’s research covers many areas of robotics with specific focus on ‘soft’ robotics, manufacturing, lightweight advanced actuators and artificial muscles, human robot interaction, dexterous robot hands, end effectors and grasping, biomimetics and biologically inspired robot systems, and robotics in healthcare and rehabilitation. He has received funding from UKRI, EPSRC, Innovate UK and the EU.

Steve publishes extensively on ‘soft’ robotics, biomimetics, grippers and humanoid technologies as well as automation. He also has extensive experience of enterprise activity having worked with companies large and small on automation related projects.


  • PGCert. in Academic Practice, 2014, University of Salford (UK).
  • PhD. in Robotics, 2005, University of Salford (UK). 
  • MSc. in Advanced Robotics,1999, University of Salford (UK).
  • BEng. in Robotic and Electronic Engineering, 1998, University of Salford (UK).


Dr Steve Davis obtained his BEng. in Robotic and Electronic Engineering (1998), MSc. in Advanced Robotics (1999) and PhD. in Robotics (2005) from the University of Salford (UK). He was employed by the University of Salford as a Researcher until 2008 when he left to take up a post as Team Leader at the Italian Institute of Technology. In 2012 Steve returned to the University of Salford as a lecturer and was promoted through academic posts. He joined the University of Birmingham in July 2022 as a Senior Research Fellow. Steve also has a Postgraduate Certificate in Academic Practice and is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

Steve has published extensively in conference proceedings and journals and has co-authored book chapters. In addition to academic papers, he has produced confidential reports for food manufacturers and other companies highlighting to them potential areas for automation. These companies have ranged from small family businesses through SMEs to large multinational organisations.

Steve has contributed to the generation of significant grant income from both national (TSB, EPSRC, Innovate UK) and international (EU) funding bodies. He has provided knowledge transfer in the form of consultancy and industrial projects in the areas of robotics and automation and has extensive enterprise/knowledge exchange experience within the food industry having previously been part of the EPSRC project Flexible Automation in the Food Industry and the Yorkshire Forward funded Centre for Food Robotics and Automation.

During his time at the Italian Institute of Technology Steve was the lead researcher on the DEFRA funded Grail Robot project which developed the first robot designed specifically for use by the food industry.

Some recent grant highlights include

  • EU Framework 7. Marie Curie Initial Training Networks (ITN). Sustainable Manufacturing through Advanced Robotics Training in Europe (SMART-E).
  • Technology Strategy Board. KTP with HellermannTyton.
  • EPSRC Centre for Innovative Manufacturing. Soft, Safe and Variable Stiffness Continuum Manipulators.
  • Innovate UK. Integrated Innovation for Nuclear Decommissioning.
  • EPSRC. Future AI and Robotics for Space (FAIRSPACE) Hub.
  • Innovate UK. Synergy.

Postgraduate supervision

  • Supervision of research MScs and PhDs in robotics


  • Soft Robotics
  • Artificial Muscles and Actuators
  • Grippers, Robot Hands and End Effectors
  • Biomimetics and Biologically Inspired Robots
  • Automation and Automation for the Food Industry
  • Robotics in Healthcare and Rehabilitation
  • Robotics for Application in Space
  • Robotics in Nuclear Decommissioning


Selected journal papers

  • M.E. Giannaccini, C. Q. Xiang, A. Atyabi, S. Nefti-Meziani and S. Davis. “Novel Design of a Soft Lightweight Pneumatic Continuum Robot Arm with Decoupled Variable Stiffness and Positioning”. Journal Soft Robotics, Vol 5, Issue 1, Feb 2018.
  • Al-Fahaam, H., Davis, S., & Nefti-Meziani, S. “The Design and Mathematical Modelling of Novel Extensor Bending Pneumatic Artificial Muscles (EBPAMs) for Soft Exoskeletons”. Journal Robotics and Autonomous Systems. Vol 99, Jan 2018.
  • Loai A. T. Al Abeach, Samia Nefti-Meziani, T. Theodoridis, Steve Davis. “A Variable Stiffness Soft Gripper Using Granular Jamming and Biologically Inspired Pneumatic Muscles”. Journal of Bionic Engineering. Vol 15, Issue 2, March 2018.
  • Chaoqun Xiang, Jianglong Guo, Yang Chen, Lina Hao, Steve Davis. “Development of a SMA-Fishing-Line-McKibben bending actuator”. Journal IEEE Access, Vol 6. April 2018.
  • Hassanin Al-Fahaam, Samia Nefti-Meziani, Theo Theodoridis and Steve Davis. “The Design and Mathematical Model of a Novel Variable Stiffness Extensor-Contractor Pneumatic Artificial Muscle (ECPAM)”. Soft Robotics. October 2018.
  • Al-Ibadi, A , Nefti-Meziani, S and Davis, ST. “Active soft end effectors for efficient grasping and safe handling”. IEEE Access, 6 , pp. 23591-23601. 2018.
  • Saber Mahboubi, Steve Davis, Samia Nefti-Meziani. “Variable Stiffness Robotic Hand for Stable Grasp and Flexible Handling”. IEEE Access, 6 , pp. 68195-68209. September 2018.
  • Hamed Majidi Fard Vatan., Haitham El-Hussieny, Steve Davis, Samia Nefti Meziani. A review: A comprehensive review of soft and rigid wearable rehabilitation and assistive devices with a focus on the shoulder joint. Intelligent & Robotic Systems February 2021.
  • Khyati Shukla, Samia Nefti-Meziani, Steve Davis. A heuristic approach on predictive maintenance techniques: Limitations and scope. Advances in Mechanical Engineering. Volume 14, Issue 6. June 2022.

 Selected book chapters

  • Samuel Wandai Khara, Alaa Falah Abdulhasan Al-Ibadi, Hassanin Shaker Husein Al-Fahaam, Haitham El-Hussien, Steve Davis, Samia Nefti-Meziani. “Space Robotics and Autonomous Systems Technologies, advances and applications”. Edited by Yang Gao. Published by IET. August 2021.