Calling the Infrastructure, Health & Agrifood sectors - help shape the future of service robotics

Posted on: 10/01/2022

Does robotics add value to your organisation? Are you considering how to apply robotics in your organisation? This is an opportunity for you to have a say on the future of the UK service robotics test facilities.

The challenge for the UK labor market and our economy is not that we have too many robots in the workplace, but that we have too few. The risk we face is not a robot takeover of our workplaces, but rather the lack of adoption and the reluctance of businesses and the Government to lead the way in the Fourth Industrial Revolution. This means that the UK could fall behind and businesses, investments and jobs will move overseas.


Robotics for the Infrastructure sector

The deployment of service robotics in the infrastructure sector has represented a new breed of intelligent systems that will help society overcome manpower shortage and the ageing workforce. The advancements in robot technology and the cost down on key robotic components – such as high precision 3D laser scanners & imaging sensors, open-source robotic software and cloud computing – have made the developing innovative robotic systems that service the public infrastructure & private estate more affordable.

The construction industry is a major economic sector with inefficiencies and low productivity. However, robotics and automated systems have the potential to address these shortcomings, but the current level of adoption is very low despite there being many applications for robotics in this sector.


Robotics for the Health sector

In the healthcare sector, there are developments for robots that aid patients with illness, cognition challenges and disability. The Covid-19 pandemic has acted as a catalyst for the deployment of service robots to overcome the difficult hardships caused by the virus. The use of these robots prevented the continuous spread of the infection by reducing the need for direct contact between the hospital staff and the patients. This in turn allowed front-line workers to focus more on the high priority tasks that required more urgent attention.


Robotics for the Agrifood sector

Within Agrifood, the supply chains are not the only source of systemic vulnerability. Climate change is and will continue to have a huge impact on the production and availability of food, affecting both the supply and the location of production, and increasing the risks associated with extreme weather both in the UK and internationally. The new generation of smart, flexible, robust, compliant, interconnected robotic and autonomous systems working seamlessly alongside their human co-workers in farms and food factories will support the sustainable intensification of agriculture, drive manufacturing productivity and underpin future food security.

Emerging technologies for future mobility will drastically change the way humans interact with machines and the environment. The common denominator in technologies such as autonomous vehicles (AVs) and artificial intelligence is the absence of the human, which can be addressed by a service robot.

The total economic impact of Robotics and Autonomous Systems (RAS) uptake across all selected sectors is estimated to be in the region of £6.4 billion by 2035 (based on current adoption trends). As service robots tend to operate in environments where there is a diversity of users and thus user requirements, there lies a gap in the definition of how these interactions should be designed.


What’s next?

Innovate UK KTN is conducting a scoping study of robotics testing facilities, robotics developers and robotics end-users from across the UK on behalf of Innovate UK. We are particularly interested in hearing from robotics end-users active in the Infrastructure, Health and Agrifood sectors.

This study will seek to establish what facilities already exist as well as establishing the needs of robotics developers and end users in order to identify gaps in the market. Your participation will support a business case to be submitted to UKRI for a UK National Service Robotics Proving Ground.

“The development of a National Proving Ground for Robotics is something that has been needed for a long time.” Rich Walker, Management Director, Shadow Robot Company.

This is a unique opportunity to have your say in shaping the UK National Service Robotics Proving Ground Facilities. Please complete this expression of interest form and we will get in touch with you shortly.

Participants will also have the opportunity to attend the feedback event on 10 February 2022 where Innovate UK KTN will share the results of this study.

“If you’re building robots, you really ought to get in touch with them and help them understand how the facility can work better for you.” added Rich Walker.

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