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Robotics and Autonomous Systems Competition Briefing


The Technology Strategy Board is to invest up to £1m in feasibility studies to accelerate the development of novel Robotics and Autonomous Systems (RAS) concepts towards demonstration and exploitation of the technology across multiple sectors.  We also aim to stimulate new partnerships between the RAS communities involved which have focused on different sectors to date but could collaborate to generate new solutions to known problems within a new industrial RAS sector in the UK.

The UK has world leading strengths in the underlying science and engineering contributing to these systems, and access to the markets that could exploit them. 

All projects must be collaborative and led by a SME.  Projects will last up to 12 months and we expect total project sizes to be up to £133k although projects outside this range will be considered.  


Robots working alongside people but acting autonomously or semi-autonomously of human control can heighten a range of capabilities such as exploitation and inspection, logistics, education, entertainment, and surveillance and intervention with application across a number of key sectors including healthcare, transport, energy (e.g. nuclear and offshore), environmental monitoring, agriculture, manufacturing. 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 is well placed to take a lead in developing and integrating these technologies across a range of economic sectors. 

Myriad technologies are required to be developed and integrated for autonomous service robotics work effectively including covering software engineering, algorithm design, modelling and simulation, power sources and energy management, sensor technologies, vision systems and imaging, analogue and digital electronics, wireless communications, digital signal processing, microprocessors, mechanical design, human–machine interaction. 

The range of technologies involved necessitates collaboration and this competition will position UK innovators and researchers well for attracting future investment for further R&D (e.g. through Horizon2020), validation and/or commercialisation.


There are a number of technological and commercial challenges and risks relating to developing, integrating and validating technologies that can work in partnership with people (semi-)autonomously in complex and dynamic environments.  Key challenges include but are not limited to:

·         Design

·         Validation/certification

·         Engineering autonomous behaviour

·         Human-robot interaction

·         Robot-robot interaction

·         Dependability and longevity

·         Integration of sub-systems and components

We are looking to fund projects that develop novel, as yet untested, ideas to address identifiable challenges and to mitigate the risks.  Also within scope are projects that take recent RAS developments tested in one sector to another where there are significant, identifiable challenges to be overcome during the project.

All projects must be collaborative and we are especially keen to encourage collaboration between innovators in the robotics and autonomous systems communities who have tended to focus on different application areas but who could collaborate to generate new solutions which apply across a range of markets.   

Projects must be at the pre-industrial technical feasibility studies.  We expect most projects to start from around the ‘proof of concept’ maturity level and to work towards the ‘demonstrator’ level.  Projects should deliver a technology demonstration or pilot system.

Out of scope

The following technology areas are out of scope and therefore not eligible for funding in this competition:

·         Industrial robotics (focused on working on a factory floor in a fixed, controlled environment)

·         Robots that do not exhibit autonomous behaviour

·         Development of new hardware or software platforms unless current ones do not provide the required capability – projects should use existing platforms where possible

Funding allocation and application process

The Technology Strategy Board has allocated up to £1m to fund feasibility studies that aim to demonstrate new technologies that align with the scope described above.  

Projects must be collaborative and led by a small or medium-sized enterprise (SME).  Each project can last up to 12 months. We expect total project sizes to be up to £133k although projects outside this range will be considered.  

Universities and RTOs, including Catapults, are eligible as partners but their portion of the project grant will be capped at 30% of project costs.

Additional funding from the EPSRC may be available for projects, on a case-by-case, in line with the scope of this competition that contain a significant, high-quality academic research component and demonstrate added value by building on or being complementary to their existing research programmes and portfolios.

All applications will be assessed on individual merit in accordance with the normal Technology Strategy Board process. 

Grants will be awarded against eligible costs to successful participants according to the type of organization and the category of research and development being undertaken.  As an example, in a collaborative pre-industrial technology feasibility study consisting of an SME and a university, the SME will be eligible to claim up to 75% of their eligible costs and a university partner will be eligible to claim 100% of their costs (80% of their full economic costs).  For further details please see http:/www

This competition opens on 4th February 2013.  The deadline for registration is at noon on 20th March 2013. The deadline for completed applications is at noon on 27th March 2013.

A briefing event will be held in London on 24th January 2013.


Further details can be found in the Guidance for Applicants for this competition, available from our website (see www.innovateuk.org under Competitions) after you have registered for this competition.  If you have any queries about the technical scope of the competition or the application process, please contact the Competitions helpline on 0300 321 4357 or email competitions@innovateuk.org

For networking opportunities, please join the RAS Special Interest Group on _connect: /web/ras-sig.

Note that ALL deadlines are at noon. 

In addition to the competition briefing we will be holding a consortia building and informal networking session after lunch.  Included in this session is  an opportunity for you to pitch to your peers. 

Note: Those wishing to use slides as part of their pitch should ideally submit their presentation of 2 slides for a 2 minute pitch by close of play 22nd January 2013.  Slides should be sent to richard.pitman@aadktn.co.uk.



Registration will be from 09:30 for a 10:00 start. The competition briefing will end at approx 13:00 followed by a consortia building and networking workshop.

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10:00 – 16:30 (Time Zone Sensitive)
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Organiser details

Organiser :
Business Support Group

Address details

Venue :
Thistle Hotel Marble Arch
Address : 

Bryanston Street

United Kingdom


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