University is founding member of new UK Robotics and Autonomous Systems Network



Heriot-Watt is a founding member of the newly-launched EPSRC UK Robotics and Autonomous Systems Network (UK-RAS Network).

The Network will bring together the UK’s core academic capabilities in robotics innovation under national coordination for the first time and encourage academic and industry collaborations that will accelerate the development and adoption of robotics and autonomous systems. 

Robots acting independently of human control, robots which can learn, adapt and take decisions, will revolutionise our economy and society
Professor David Lane

The new network has already received strong support by major industrial partners, the Science Museum and the UK’s major professional engineering bodies including Royal Academy of Engineering, IET, and The Institute of Mechanical Engineers. The Network will expand to include broader stakeholders including key national laboratories in the UK and leading international collaborators in both academia and industry. The global market for service and industrial robots is estimated to reach $59.5 billion by 2020.  

Commenting on the launch, the UK government’s Minister of State for Universities and Science, Jo Johnson said, “Robotics and autonomous systems have huge growth potential for the UK as one of our Eight Great Technologies.  To get it right we need to draw on the expertise of the UK’s research base and the ambition of industry. By working collaboratively, this network will only help to accelerate growth of a high-tech sector and pave the way for new high-value, skilled jobs – a win, win scenario for the UK.”

Edinburgh Centre for Robotics

The Edinburgh Centre for Robotics is a £35M joint venture between Heriot-Watt University and the University of Edinburgh. Funded also by EPSRC and 30 industrial partners it will train over a 100 PhD students in advanced robotics research topics and produce 'innovation ready' researchers through training and awareness of the mechanisms and processes that lead to creation and commercial adoption of disruptive technologies. 

Professor David Lane, Director of the Edinburgh Centre for Robotics and Professor of Autonomous Systems Engineering at Heriot-Watt, 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, across industry, in healthcare, transport and manufacturing. This dedicated UK network will help to focus and support developments and ensure that the UK can maintain its edge in this rapidly developing and cutting-edge field.”

Kedar Pandya, Head of the Engineering Theme for the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, said, “Working with Innovate UK and other research council partners, EPSRC's mission is to support and invest in the world-leading research base that has earned the UK its deserved reputation for research excellence. Robotics and Autonomous Systems are one of the Eight Great Technologies in which the UK is set to be a global leader, and the technology being developed at these EPSRC-funded RAS facilities will deliver a significant impact on the research landscape, and attract the kind of industrial investment that will maximise the UK’s stake in the worldwide robotics market.”