Funding boost for EPSRC UK-RAS network

16th April 2019
Alex Lynn

The 4th annual UK Robotics Week (#UKRW19) returns for a celebration of robotics and autonomous systems innovation in the last week of June, boosted by the award of a further three-year grant by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) to the core organisers, the EPSRC UK-RAS Network.

This new award by EPSRC to the UK-RAS Network will fund its activities through to 2022, and will accelerate the Network’s future growth, including strengthening industry collaboration both nationally and internationally and providing key support for the UK government’s Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF). 

It will enable the Network to continue to grow the RAS community and undertake new activities, such as the establishment of Industrial fellowship schemes, management of national RAS assets, as well as build on its current public engagement portfolio, with greater activities during the annual UK Robotics Week and STEM ambassador programmes.

A key pillar of the EPSRC UK-RAS Network’s public engagement strategy is its popular annual UK Robotics Week, which returns this June for its 4th year and is now the leading national event in robotics and autonomous systems. The week-long celebration will highlight over 180 events across its nationwide programme, ranging from competitions and challenges, public lectures, open days, symposia, hackathons and workshops.

Key activities for 2019 include the International Robotics Showcase (27th June 2019); a stand-out exhibit at the Great Exhibition Road Festival; an augmented reality-based School Robot Competition; the launch of a new White Paper on ‘Technology, Ethics & AI’, plus the prestigious international Surgical Robot and Manufacturing Robotics challenges.

Professor Lynn Gladden, EPSRC’s Executive Chair, said: “The Robotics and Autonomous Systems (RAS) Network has played a key role in coordinating and linking academic centres, the EPSRC Robotics Hubs, and industrial partners to share knowledge and drive innovation.

“This additional funding for the RAS Network will allow them to build on this work and push the UK’s capabilities further. The UK Robotics Week is a prime example of how those working in the field are demonstrating what the future will bring and encouraging the next generations of researchers and innovators.”

The EPSRC UK-RAS Network was established in 2015 with the aim of bringing together academic centres of excellence, industry, government funding bodies and charities to strategically grow the UK-RAS research base, acting as a portal to interface with industry and deliver technological advances with the potential for translational uptake.

Commenting on the funding award ahead of UK Robotics Week, the founding EPSRC UK-RAS Network Chair and new Chair of the Strategic Advisory Board Professor Guang-Zhong Yang, added: “Since its foundation, the EPSRC UK-RAS Network has established strategic leadership and cohesion on public engagement and outreach programmes by providing high-impact opportunities and maximising the visibility of RAS across the UK. 

“With this timely new funding, we plan to build on these activities as well as establish new programmes that will secure the UK’s leadership in robotics and autonomous systems innovation globally.”

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