Work on the National Robotarium has started in Edinburgh, Scotland. The £ 22.4 million center will be the UK’s largest and most advanced robotics and AI research facility, working with industry to solve global challenges.

The facility is said to be a leading global robotics and AI research center and the largest and most advanced of its kind in the UK. The doors are expected to open in spring 2022.

The National Robotarium is located on the Heriot-Watt University campus in Edinburgh and is supported with £ 21 million from the UK government and £ 1.4 million from the Scottish government under the Edinburgh Metropolitan Area Agreement and South East Scotland.

The National Robotarium was conceived as a center of excellence for groundbreaking research, creating innovative solutions to global challenges using cutting-edge research, product design and industry collaboration. Bringing together academics and global corporations, the facility will act as a catalyst for entrepreneurship and aim to bring sustainable local economic benefits to Edinburgh, as well as the whole of the UK and beyond.

Although the research projects led by the National Robotarium have already begun, the new building will offer extensive world-class facilities for researchers and knowledge sharing. Hazardous environments are among the key areas of research application. Offshore energy; Manufacture; Health care; Human-robot interaction; assisted living; and agritech.

Professor Helen Hastie and Professor Yvan Petillot are joint academic directors of the National Robotarium. Professor Hastie described the vision for the new facility as follows: “As a world leader in promoting entrepreneurship and early-stage product development, the National Robotarium will play an important role in supporting the UK’s economic recovery from Covid. 19 pandemic. “

“By drawing on the world-class talent of Heriot-Watt staff and our collaborative partner, the University of Edinburgh, as well as students from the Center for Doctoral Education in Robotics and Autonomous Systems, the National Robotarium will form a center of excellence for basic research and knowledge sharing to cope with real life Challenges and industry needs. “

“The new building will enable a collaborative approach that is at the heart of the National Robotarium’s ethos, helping to accelerate research from laboratory to market and paving the way for the UK to lead the way in AI and robotic technology.”

Photo credit: National Robotarium

Professor Yvan Petillot added: “The cutting edge resources of the new facility combined with the expertise of our researchers will place us in a highly competitive position to bring the UK to the global robotics and AI technology stage. Our existing and new students have the opportunity to apply their knowledge by working on real-world problems through internships and industry-led group projects supported by Robotarium, and accelerating their skills while actively shaping the future of the subject.

“We hope to inspire future generations for the positive effects of robotics and artificial intelligence, to build trust, ethics and understanding into our research results and to regularly involve the public through school visits and open days.”

Iain Stewart, Secretary of State for Scotland, said: “The creation of the UK’s first National Robotarium in Edinburgh will put Scotland at the forefront of a technological revolution that is changing the way we work. This exciting new facility will provide opportunities for Scottish entrepreneurs and innovators, creating jobs and wealth across the region. The UK government has now allocated more than £ 1.5 billion to urban areas and growth agreements that will help communities better recover from the pandemic. “

The National Robotarium is funded under the Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region Deal and is a collaboration between Heriot-Watt University and the University of Edinburgh. The 3,700 square meter building will house three different research and development areas and offer bespoke facilities for robotics and autonomous systems. Interaction between humans and robotics as well as high-precision manufacturing. Specialty equipment includes dedicated laser labs, an autonomous system lab, and a living lab for testing technology in a realistic home environment.

In line with the National Robotarium’s commitment to promoting a responsible and collaborative approach, the building will contain a “partner suite” dedicated to collaboration between industry, academia and government.

Photo credit: National Robotarium

Innovative design means that the latest resources are adapted by the building itself, with an emphasis on sustainability and energy efficiency. In winter, the intelligent facade provides solar heat and recycles warm air. Sustainable urban drainage systems will be integrated into an ecological zone, while a solar PV system will be installed on the roof. EV cargo holds will also be available. To support the institution’s commitment to public engagement activities, graphics are displayed on the facade using linear flare technology and an outdoor projector.

The National Robotarium will host numerous research projects targeting a variety of global challenges. Examples of projects are Spring (socially relevant robots in gerontological healthcare); Developed the world’s first multi-user healthcare conversational robot to support elderly patient care and the EPSRC ORCA Hub (Offshore Robotics for Asset Certification), a national hub of five universities led by Heriot-Watt that advances technology from people remove dangerous work environments. The building’s assisted living laboratory will use technology to help individuals live independently longer. Research ranges from robotics and conversation assistants to IoT devices and wireless surveillance techniques.

As part of UKRI’s Trusted Autonomous Systems program, it was announced in November 2020 that the National Robotarium will advance research into ways to manage trust between humans and autonomous systems to support adoption in scenarios that require human interaction, for example in self-driving cars or autonomous wheelchairs.

The National Robotarium is part of the Data Driven Innovation theme of the City Deal, which aims to establish the region as the data capital of Europe.

More information about the National Robotarium can be found online.

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