Robotics to receive £39.4M as part of UK technology drive

Robotics and autonomous systems are among three key technologies earmarked by the United Kingdom’s Chancellor of the Exchequer to receive an £85 million investment for capital equipment. The investment comes as part of the government’s £600 million “eight great technologies” initiative, which was outlined earlier this year.

Speaking earlier this week at the Global Intelligent Systems conference in London, David Willetts, minister for universities and science, announced the results of a call for proposals issued by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council. The council, known as EPSRC, is the UK’s main agency for funding research in engineering and the physical sciences.

The three areas targeted for investment were robotics and autonomous systems, advanced materials, and grid-scale energy storage. Robotics and autonomous systems will receive an EPSRC Grant of £25 million with additional funding contributions of £8.4 million from higher education institutions and £6 million from industrial partners for a total of £39.4 million.

In a release announcing the news, EPSRC listed the micro-engineering facilities at Imperial College London as an example of who would benefit from the funding. The facility will develop miniaturized robots for surgery and targeted therapy, which are expected to be used in a variety of minimally invasive medical procedures.

The £25 million robotics grant breaks down like this:

  • Imperial College London
    £4 million – Micro-Engineering Facility for Medical Robotics
  • University of Oxford
    £3 million – Mobile Robotics: Enabling a Pervasive Technology of the Future
  • University College Londo
    £2.4 million – Robotic Teleoperation for Multiple Scales: Enabling Exploration, Manipulation and Assembly Tasks in New Worlds Beyond Human Capabilities
  • University of Warwick
    £3.1 million – Robotics and Autonomous Systems: The Smart and Connected Vehicle
  • University of Southampton
    £2.8 million – Robotics and Autonomous Systems: Southampton University Capital Proposal
  • University of Edinburgh and Heriot-Watt University
    £6.1million – The Edinburgh Robotic and Autonomous Systems Interaction Research Facility
  • University of Leeds
    £2.6 million – National Facility for Innovative Robotic Systems
  • University of Sheffield and University of Liverpool
    £1 million – Human-Machine Co-operation in Robotics and Autonomous Systems

[ photo courtesy of Oxford Mobile Robotics Group ]