Global Expert Mission: UK-USA Robotics and Artificial Intelligence (RAI) in Extreme Environments

Posted on: 03/05/2019

In March 2019 Paul Larcey and Marie Emerson, KTN, led Innovate UK’s delegation of Robotics and Artificial Intelligence Sector Specialists to the USA.

Photo galleries are not available for content from the previous KTN website: we apologise for this.

In the week of 25 March 2019, the ‘Inform and Inspire’ Mission hosted by the UK Science and Innovation Network (SIN) visited Los Angeles, San Diego and Houston. The delegates were drawn from the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund Robotics and AI in Extreme Environments award winner’s cohort: a strong mix of innovative high growth potential companies and research centres.

Organisations including NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab and Johnson Space Center, Army Research Lab, Northrop Grumman, Brain Corporation, The Marine
Alliance, Southwest Research Institute, Jacobs Engineering, Schlumberger, Oceaneering and Houston Mechatronics, inspired delegates with their impressive technologies; whilst meetings with funders and accelerators such as Starburst Accelerator, Techstars and Chevron Technology Ventures enabled them to understand more about the US investment and growth landscape. The delegation also attended a Tech Mixer at the British Consul General’s Residence in LA, and the Technology Collaboration Center’s Automation, AI and Robotics Workshop in Houston, to network and find out more about the latest technology developments.

It’s been 50 years since the first industrial robot began service in a car assembly plant. Since then enormous technical and economic strides have been made within the sector and the introduction of machine learning/AI offers the ability to exponentially grow the sector into applications that are extremely challenging for humans to work in. Sectors such as Deep Marine, Oil and Gas, Nuclear, Defence, Mining and Space are obvious candidates.

Our trip to the US demonstrated the wide range of problems that these sectors face and for which our cohort of SMEs and academic institutions were very well placed to offer feasible solutions. From our meetings a series of collaborative agreements are under negotiation, from technical investigations to funding.

The experience certainly showed our delegates not just the fascinating and fast-growing Robotics/AI landscape within the US, but how these firms have obtained funding and been able to work with US government agencies and the academy, allowing our delegates and the wider RAI cohort further exploitation of these great opportunities.

Paul Larcey, KTN


Nikos Pronios, Robotics and Autonomous Systems, Innovate UK:

Listen to an interview with Nikos Pronios, Innovate UK reflecting on his time spent on this Global Expert Mission to the USA.

Source: UK Science and Innovation Network

Dr. Radhika Gudipati, Shadow Robot reflects on time spent on the mission:

“The mission effectively summarised the Space and Sub-sea challenges of the USA market. My key learnings include understanding the business models of various sized American organisations ‚Äì this, along with meeting inspiring people and engaging in insightful discussions, has made it a memorable experience.”

Photo galleries are not available for content from the previous KTN website: we apologise for this.

UK Robotics and Artificial Intelligence Sector Delegation

Autonomous Devices

Brunel University London


Forth Engineering (Cumbria) Limited

Headlight AI


London South Bank Innovation Centre for Mobile Robotics (LSBIC)

Orca Hub: Offshore Robotics for the Certification of Assets (Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh)


Royal Holloway University of London (RHUL)

Shadow Robot

Soil Machine Dynamics Ltd (SMD)


About Global Expert Missions

Innovate UK’s Global Expert Missions programme is one of its most important tools to support the UK’s Industrial Strategy’s ambition for the UK to be the international partner of choice for science and innovation.

Global collaborations are crucial in meeting the Industrial Strategy’s Grand Challenges and will be further supported by the launch of a new International Research and Innovation Strategy.

Innovate UK’s Global Expert Missions, led by KTN, play an important role in building strategic partnerships, providing deep insight into the opportunities for UK innovation and shaping future bilateral collaboration programmes.

For more information, and to get in touch, please contact the International Team.

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