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UK Government provides £40m funding boost for robotics

The field of robotics and autonomous systems is to receive Governmental funding of almost £40m as one of the identified ‘eight great technologies’ seen as having the biggest potential for UK growth. 
The money comes in the form of an Engineering & Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) grant of £25m with additional funding contributions of £8.4m from higher education institutions and £6m from industrial partners. 
The announcement was made last week by David Willetts, Minister for Universities and Science. 
Funding will be made available to more than 20 universities across the UK to support and strengthen existing research in the areas of robotics and autonomous systems. Additional funding has been put in place for research into advanced materials and grid-scale energy storage, which were also identified within the “eight great technologies.” 
In a statement, Mr Willetts said, ‘For Britain to get ahead in the global race we have to back emerging technologies and ensure our universities have the latest equipment. This capital investment will help scientists make new discoveries and take their research through to commercial success. It will drive growth and support the government’s industrial strategy.’
Institutions set to benefit from the announcement are micro-engineering facilities at Imperial College London for the development of miniaturised robots for surgery and targeted therapy. These robots are expected to have impact on minimally invasive procedures including gastrointestinal, urological, neuro, cardiac, endovascular, paediatric, and orthopaedic surgeries.
Two Scottish universities have been given more than £6m of the funding. Heriot-Watt University and the University of Edinburgh will use the cash to develop a joint research centre in the capital to explore the potential of robots and autonomous systems in sectors as diverse as oil and gas, search and rescue, defence and manufacturing.
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