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Work starts on robot centres in Edinburgh and Salford

30 March, 2021

Construction has started on a research facility for robotics and artificial intelligence in Edinburgh that will be the largest and most advanced of its type in the UK.

Based at Heriot-Watt University, the National Robotarium is being supported by £21m from the UK Government, and £1.4m from the Scottish Government. Expected to open in Spring 2022, it will bring together academics and global companies, with the aim of
answering global challenges through research, early-stage product development and industry collaboration. It is also intended to act as a catalyst for robotics entrepreneurs.

Key areas of research application will include manufacturing, human-robot interaction, hazardous environments, offshore energy, construction, healthcare and agricultural technology. 

Professors Helen Hastie and Yvan Petillot will be the joint academic leads. “The National Robotarium will form a centre of excellence for fundamental research and knowledge exchange to address real-world challenges and industry needs,” says Hastie.

Professor Petillot adds: “The cutting-edge resources provided by the new facility, combined with the expertise of our researchers, will put us in a highly competitive position to elevate the UK onto the global stage in robotics and AI technologies.”

The Robotarium is a collaboration between Heriot-Watt University and the University of Edinburgh.

Work has also begun on the North of England Robotics Innovation Centre (Neric) at the University of Salford. The centre, due to open next year, has received £3.6m of funding from Research England, in addition to funding from the European Regional Development Fund.

An artist’s impression of the National Robotarium, which is due to open in Edinburgh next year

Neric, part of a £2.5bn plan to regenerate Salford and its region, will provide SMEs with a hub where they can access academics, work collaboratively, and test and validate technologies before deploying them.

Dr Georgina Harris, director of engineering at the University of Salford says the latest funding will help the centre to recruit robotics specialists, invest in facilities, and play “a pivotal role in the technology transfer from innovative research to industrial deployment”.

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Salford University / NERC: Twitter  Facebook

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