The City of Edinburgh will receive funding from the UK and Scottish Governments to open the UK's first National ROBOTARIUM as part of the Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region Deal.
The National ROBOTARIUM will build on the existing Edinburgh Centre for Robotics, a £35 million joint venture between Heriot-Watt University and the University of Edinburgh.
The new funding will substantially expand the current multi-disciplinary team of more than 100 researchers based in Edinburgh, driving forward the development of Robotics and Autonomous Systems technologies to benefit knowledge, companies and employment.
The aim is to create a world-class hub, building on the existing research expertise, skills training and industry partnerships. It will help propel both Edinburgh and Scotland to the forefront of the rapidly-growing global robotics stage.
Sectors as diverse as offshore energy, nuclear, healthcare, transport, hazard detection, manufacturing, space exploration and smart cities will benefit.
Professor David Lane of Heriot-Watt University is Co-Director of the Edinburgh Centre for Robotics. He said: “The City Deal will be transformative for our city and the surrounding regions. Having the National ROBOTARIUM in Edinburgh will keep us at the forefront of this dynamic, exciting field of research and innovation. The significance of this investment on Edinburgh's economy and the global tech scene cannot be overstated.
Robots are set to revolutionise our economy and society over the next 20 years as they start to work for us and beside us, assisting us and interacting with us. As we grow the ROBOTARIUM, we will be applying this technology to global problems in a wide range of sectors from offshore energy, healthcare and transport, to construction, manufacturing and education.
“The National ROBOTARIUM will support and advance our research and increase the UK's ability to be internationally competitive on a global stage.”
Professor Sethu Vijayakumar, Co-Director of the Edinburgh Centre for Robotics and Professor of Robotics at the University of Edinburgh, said: “Support from the City Deal will enable experts at the National ROBOTARIUM to harness the potential of data science in developing robot technologies that meet many of the challenges facing society now and in future.
“Living labs at new robotics premises within the Edinburgh Centre for Robotics will enable industries to de-risk novel, disruptive technologies while providing the world leading researchers with an important grounding to tackle these challenges through the use of Robotics and Autonomous Systems. We look forward to continuing to work with our partners at Heriot-Watt University and in government and industry to ensure that Edinburgh remains at the forefront of expertise in the robotics field.”
Professor Richard A. Williams, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of Heriot-Watt University, said: “Our city is already a leader and facilitator in the robotics revolution, having hosted the European Robotics Forum earlier this year, which brought together leading robotics experts to collaborate and showcase advances in artificial intelligence and technology. This significant funding boost will further propel the city and Scotland onto a global stage.
“Throughout 2017, Heriot-Watt University has been celebrating the Year of Robotics with a series of events spanning schools, the public, academia, industry collaborators, funders and policy makers. Today's generation of young people will grow up and work alongside autonomous, intelligent machines. Demonstrating how our research will enable robotics to be integrated into our daily lives and create new job opportunities are two of the key aims of the Year of Robotics.
“Announcing the National ROBOTARIUM as part of our celebrations is invaluable in ensuring there remains a focus on the research generated in universities such as Heriot-Watt, including the development and training of students equipped with the skills required by industry.”
Bob Black, CEO of SeeByte, a world leading developer of smart software solutions, said: “The National ROBOTARIUM in Edinburgh will support the growth of companies like SeeByte by providing a pipeline of talented, skilled engineers and specialists, and collaborating with us on research and commercial activities.
“The robotics and autonomous systems expertise that exist at Heriot-Watt and the University of Edinburgh is world-leading and has naturally led to a hub of related enterprises across the city.
“The development of the UK National ROBOTARIUM will cement Edinburgh's reputation as a global centre of excellence for robotics, attracting more talent and opportunities for the universities and commercial companies like SeeByte.”
The National ROBOTARIUM is expected to attract international research and innovation into the Edinburgh area, as well as creating new opportunities for collaboration. The centre will bring together industry, academia, finance and innovators to create new opportunities, as well as developing high-tech skills, ready for the market place.