Robots are doing it for themselves, or they will be soon

Industrialists, academics and students gathered in Edinburgh yesterday to launch a new Centre aimed at developing robots which can act independently and which they believe will revolutionise society in the next twenty years.

The Edinburgh Centre for Robotics

The Edinburgh Centre for Robotics is a joint venture by Heriot-Watt University and the University of Edinburgh. It involves two main elements, the Robotarium, a state-of-the-art equipment facility for research and knowledge exchange and the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Robotics and Autonomous Systems. In total, the Edinburgh Centre for Robotics is supported by over 40 industrial partners.

The Centre will be working in crucial market sectors including oil and gas, defence, renewable energy, healthcare, assisted living, transport, space, automotive, manufacturing, nuclear, digital media and education.

"Fantastic centres like this show how our world-class universities are helping to secure economic growth

Universities and Science Minister Greg Clark

The launch event today will include a keynote lecture by Professor Andrew Blake, Laboratory Director at Microsoft Research, who will be speaking on the history of robotics development at Edinburgh-based universities and the challenges and opportunities facing the new Edinburgh Centre for Robotics.

Professor David Lane, Director of the Edinburgh Centre for Robotics and Professor of Autonomous Systems Engineering at Heriot-Watt University, said, "Robots acting independently of human control, robots which can learn, adapt and take decisions, will revolutionise our economy and society over the next 20 years.

"They will work for us, beside us, assist us and interact with us. It is estimated that by 2025 such advanced robotic and autonomous systems could have a worldwide economic impact of $1.7 trillion to $4.5 trillion annually, with an emerging market value €15.5Billion.

Professor Sethu Vijayakumar, co-Director of the Centre and Professor of Robotics at the University of Edinburgh, added that "The Edinburgh Centre for Robotics aims to help the country realise its industrial potential in this revolution by producing a new generation of highly skilled researchers, trained to take a leading role, technically skilled, industry and market aware, and prepared to create and lead the UK's innovation pipeline for jobs and growth."

Professor Philip Nelson FREng, EPSRC's Chief Executive, said, "By supporting the training of new academic talent and providing the right environment and tools needed to drive progress in this exciting field, EPSRC, and our industrial partners, are helping Robotics and Autonomous Systems to flourish and deliver the benefits it promises as one of the eight great technologies."

Commenting Universities and Science Minister Greg Clark said, "Fantastic centres like this show how our world-class universities are helping to secure economic growth.

"The Government funding will help bridge the gap between research and production. Not only does this help keep Britain at the forefront of international research, but it lays the foundations for high-tech job creation across the UK."