Rise of the handy machines: UK gears up for first Robotics Week

Eyeing the future of transformative technology


The UK Robotics and Autonomous Systems Network (UK-RAS Network) tentacle of the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) is inviting humans to get involved in the first UK Robotics Week, scheduled to run from 25 June - 1 July 2016.

The event - supported by the Royal Academy of Engineering, the Institution of Engineering and Technology, and the Institution of Mechanical Engineers - is designed to "to shine a spotlight on the UK's technology leadership in robotics and autonomous systems", and "aims to ensure that robotics remains high on the agenda as one of the transformative technologies of today and tomorrow".

Professor Dame Ann Dowling, president of the Royal Academy of Engineering, said: "The UK needs to recruit over a million engineers over the next decade to deliver the technology solutions that will drive economic growth and transform our quality of life. The launch of an annual UK Robotics Week is an exciting way of broadening public engagement in the beneficial impact of robotics for the future of the UK."

EPSRC UK-RAS Network*, as its known to its mates, is particularly keen to get kids involved via the School Robot Challenge, in which 4 to 17-year-olds will be challenged to create a robotic bug.

Universities and Science minister Jo Johnson said: "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."

For those already working with robotic technologies, the week will see international teams compete in the Surgical Robot Challenge for a prize of £10,000.

The Field Robotics Challenge centres on "the development of robots for use in unstructured and dynamic environments, including outdoor, dangerous, and potentially unknown settings", while the Autonomous Driving Challenge invites participants to design their own vehicle and teaching it to drive autonomously.

Finally, there's a UAV challenge to showcase "ethical" UAV tech, although further details on just what that might be are not yet available. ®


*We'd suggest adding an Autonomous Acronym Shortening Robot Challenge to the event.

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