Earlier this month the Prime Minister welcomed Sir James Dyson’s plans to build a 500 acre campus in Wiltshire to pursue R&D into robotics and artificial intelligence.
“This investment is a vote of confidence in our modern industrial strategy and our determination to cement the UK’s position as a world leader in high-tech engineering,” said Theresa May.
Professor Guang-Zhong Yang, chair of the EPSRC UK Robotics and Autonomous Systems (UK-RAS) Network believes that investing in science, research and innovation is vital to the economic growth and global position of the UK.
Yang said that research into areas like robotics and AI is important because it will drive innovation in other sectors including healthcare, manufacturing, transport, aerospace, oil and gas.
The UK Robotics and Autonomous Systems Network (UK-RAS Network) was created by the government 18 months ago to co-ordinate robotics research in UK universities, including Imperial College London, Bristol Robotics Lab, and the universities of Edinburgh, Oxford and Sheffield, and to set up industry collaborations that hopefully will result in commercial products.
“Robotics and Autonomous Systems are set to play an increasingly vital role in the growth of the UK economy across all sectors of industry, from transport and healthcare to manufacturing and unmanned systems,” said Professor Guang-Zhong Yang.
“This dedicated network provides a focus for the UK’s research and engineering excellence for the first time, ensuring that the UK can maintain its competitive edge in RAS innovation.”
The UK government is to give £17 million to universities to support research into robotics and AI.
“Innovation is at the heart of our Industrial Strategy,” says business secretary Greg Clark, “by investing in dynamic fields such as robotics and AI, we will help put the UK at the forefront of global innovation.”
AI was identified as one of the technologies that could be supported through the Government’s new Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund and the Challenger Business Programme.