UK funding competition for robotics and autonomous systems research
25 January 2012
A £1 million funding competition that will help develop
Robotics and Autonomous Systems (RAS) technology in the UK has been
launched by the Technology Strategy Board.
The competition is for feasibility studies to accelerate the
development of RAS concepts where robots are able to interact with
each other and humans. They are able to use sensors to learn from
their environment, adapting their behaviour and making choices based
on their stored knowledge and experiences.
The results could lead to greater commercialisation of technology
innovations in sectors such as aerospace, defence, transport,
health, consumer goods and manufacturing.
Speaking at the Policy Exchange, Universities and Science
Minister David Willetts said: “This investment will give innovative
UK companies the time and space they need to develop Robotics and
Autonomous Systems. This is an exciting technology area that could
make a real difference to a range of sectors such as high value
manufacturing and agriculture.
“We are in a global race to develop new innovations and this
competition will give researchers the freedom to explore early-stage
ideas which can be demonstrated to potential investors and turned
into commercially successful products.”
Iain Gray, Chief Executive of the Technology Strategy Board said:
“The UK has world-class strengths in the underlying science and
engineering contributing to these systems and access to the markets
that could exploit them so what is needed now is collaboration
across multiple sectors of innovators. This will encourage new
partnerships so that we find novel solutions to known problems.”
In RAS, service robots work alongside people but act autonomously
or semi-autonomously of their control in a number of complex,
dynamic environments, some of which are hazardous to humans. For
example, Autonomous Systems are playing increasingly important roles
in deep sea exploration, the maintenance of oil and gas facilities
and space exploration.
The industry offers the opportunity for companies to develop and
integrate a range of technologies — for example software
engineering, human-machine interaction, modelling and simulation,
wireless communications and microprocessors — so that autonomous
service robotics can work truly effectively.
It is expected that the competition will also assist UK
innovators and researchers in attracting future investment for
further research and development and commercialisation from new
funding mechanisms such as Horizon 2020, the EU’s
new programme for research and innovation, aimed at creating new
jobs and growth in Europe. The programme will run from 2014 to 2020
with a budget of €80 billion euros.
The Technology Strategy Board funding is for projects that
develop early-stage and novel concepts to address identifiable
challenges and mitigate risks. Technical feasibility studies are
initial studies undertaken prior to embarking on a subsequent and
larger R & D project.
All projects must be collaborative and led by an SME. They will
last up to 12 months and each grant is envisaged to be up to £133K,
although projects outside this range will be considered.
The competition opens on 4 February 2013. See
where details will be posted shortly.