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The University of Southampton

Southampton to shine a spotlight on robotic innovation during first UK Robotics Week

Published: 18 November 2015 Origin:  Engineering

The University of Southampton is to help celebrate innovation in the UK’s robotics industry with the announcement today (18 November) of the first UK Robotics Week (25 June – 1 July 2016).

As a founding partner of the EPSRC UK Robotics and Autonomous Systems Network (UK-RAS Network), the University will take part in a series of events and activities to showcase UK’s technology leadership in robotics and autonomous systems, and to engage the nation’s schools, colleges and universities in developing the digital skills needed to drive the UK’s future economy.

With the global market for service and industrial robots expected to reach $59.5 billion by 2020, the UK government has identified robotics as one of the 8 Great Technologies central to the future growth of the UK economy. The initiative is being coordinated by the EPSRC UK-RAS network and partner universities.

Dr Stephen Prior , Reader in Unmanned Air Vehicles at the University of Southampton, says: “ Robotics Week will give our students an opportunity to capitalise on their success in the Eurobot competition, where they came first and second. We hope it will also encourage younger Engineering and Science students from schools and colleges across the region, including the recently opened South Wiltshire University Technical College, where we are an official sponsor, to experience robotics technology.”

The cornerstone of the initiative is a School Robot Challenge, a new national competition centred on bioinspired robots. Children will be invited to submit robotics-inspired essays or artwork, and to design their own robotic bug. The challenge is designed to develop children’s interest and skills in a range of subjects, including digital skills, science, technology, engineering and biology, and is open to all schoolchildren aged 4 -17 years old.

Commenting on the launch, the UK government’s Universities and Science Minister Jo Johnson said: “From driverless cars to tiny surgical robots, there is an array of exciting possibilities in robotics that can improve our lives. It’s critical that we inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers to help develop these new technologies. I strongly encourage schools across the country to get involved in this robot design challenge as part of the first ever UK Robotics Week.”

In addition to the School Robot Challenge, UK Robotics Week will include the finals of a series of international academic challenges in which leading robotic research groups from around the world will come to the UK to demonstrate the very latest robotic technology, including:

  • Surgical Robot Challenge 2016
  • Field Robotics Challenge 2016
  • Autonomous Driving Challenge 2016
  • UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) Challenge 2016

The full programme of competitions and events – which will include open robotics labs, public lectures and industry showcases – is expected to attract significant global interest from academia and industry, and will help cement the UK’s position as a major force in robotics and autonomous systems development.

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