Robotics Proving Ground

Pioneering robotics evolution through powering a network of hubs to fast-track robotics from concept to market.

Your Gateway to Robotics Innovation

Comprising the Satellite Applications Catapult, High Value Manufacturing Catapult (HVMC) represented by the Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC), and Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult (ORE Catapult), our network is dedicated to addressing the pressing needs of both industry pioneers and technology enthusiasts.

Our mission is clear: to serve as a catalyst for the rapid development and adoption of robotics technologies in the UK and beyond. In an age where robotics and autonomous systems (RAS) are transforming industries, our facilities offer a unique, internationally recognised platform to propel ideas to commercialisation.

  • Geographically dispersed yet united in purpose, our centres enable you to conduct standardised testing across multiple sites while tapping into specialised expertise for your unique projects. For instance, you can evaluate marine-based robotics at ORE Catapult while simultaneously performing electrical safety tests at the closest centre to your location.
  • The Robotics Proving Ground goes beyond testing – we are committed to developing impactful case studies, establishing industry standards, and fostering regulatory frameworks. By supporting the 82% of global robotics supply chain comprising SMEs, we break down barriers and ensure affordable access to highly instrumented testing facilities.
  • Trust, reliability, and certification are paramount in the realm of robotics. We aim to instil confidence in the capabilities of robots to perform tasks consistently and safely, assuring you that your investment in innovation is not in vain.

How we support

Working together with our three catapult centre partners, this network of support can provide simple access to facilities for generic and bespoke testing and qualification, providing confidence for both investor and customer. 
  • At the robotics proving ground, a suite of rigorous testing methodologies ensures the reliability, safety, and performance of robotic systems across various dimensions. Functional Testing scrutinises core operations, confirming if robots execute tasks as intended. Performance Testing measures efficiency and accuracy, evaluating speed, payload capabilities, and precision. Navigation Testing assesses movement across terrains, while Sensor and Perception Testing gauges how robots interpret their surroundings for accurate decision-making.

    Communication Testing ensures seamless data exchange, pivotal for robotic functionalities, while Safety Testing guarantees secure and risk-free operations. Environmental Testing assesses resilience in diverse conditions, crucial for real-world adaptability. Endurance Testing measures longevity under continuous operation, vital for sustained performance. Regulatory Compliance Testing verifies adherence to industry standards. Usability Testing focuses on user interaction for intuitive control. Security Testing safeguards against vulnerabilities. Integration Testing validates seamless component incorporation within robots, particularly in large-scale manufacturing workshops, ensuring smooth operations at scale. Additionally, the proving ground emphasises stress testing, metrology for precise measurements, simulation studies for risk mitigation, and consultancy on product design and manufacturability, ensuring holistic support across mechanical, electrical, and electronics disciplines.

  • The robotics proving ground ensures robust evaluations and certifications for diverse robotic applications through a comprehensive safety and technical framework. Built on ISO and IEC Standards, it takes a holistic approach to safety and compliance, validating measures through risk assessments and Functional Safety Certifications, alongside CE/UKCA Marking. Prioritising collaborative robot safety, especially aligned with ISO/TS 15066:2016, it guides safe human-robot interaction protocols. Aligning with national regulations and human interaction guidelines, the centres emphasise training programs for operators, focusing on safe handling and maintenance. Assistance is also available for functional safety documentation and safety audits.

    Technical expertise spans computer vision, AI integration, and simulation techniques, enhancing manipulation and navigation precision. Tailored payload and end-effector designs cater to specific needs, while rigorous assessments ensure fail-safes in robotic safety systems, covering electro-mechanical analysis, electrical design, and control system integration. Process optimisation studies refine performance, culminating in safe and efficient robotic operations across diverse applications.

  • Services available include a comprehensive suite of business guidance services supports companies in various stages of their journey. From start-ups to established businesses, there’s tailored advice available across multiple domains. Start-up advice covers foundational elements, complemented by financial guidance and marketing strategies, ensuring a solid business footing. Risk management strategies safeguard against potential setbacks, while scaling and growth advice charts pathways for expansion. Crafting robust business cases and exit strategies are areas of specialisation, complemented by industry-specific insights and global business advice. Access to memberships and wider industry networks fosters collaborative opportunities.

    The proving ground also provides comprehensive support for funding applications, offering services such as grant writing, consultation, review, and editing. Moreover, research support, training workshops, pitch deck creation, crowdfunding campaign assistance, partnership building, small business loan application aid, and investment pitch coaching are available to fortify businesses and expedite their growth trajectory.

  • The network of test centres boasts an extensive array of cutting-edge facilities catering to diverse developmental needs. Collaboration spaces foster ideation and teamwork, complemented by product development labs equipped for innovation. With polymer and metal additive manufacturing capabilities, alongside electrical and integration laboratories, the MTC enables prototyping and iterative refinement of robotics components. Facilities for in-house development of end-effectors and control/automation panels streamline customisation and optimisation processes.

    A diverse range of robotic systems across the network awaits exploration, including collaborative robots like Universal Robots, Doosan, and Franka Emika, industrial robots such as KUKA, ABB, and FANUC, and mobile robots like MiR and Boston Dynamics’ SPOT. The availability of various robots, including floor-mounted and track-mounted options, allows for diverse testing environments and scenarios. For example, the ORE Catapult has dedicated areas for wind turbine and offshore component testing. The Satellite Applications Catapult is augmented with advanced technology like Vicon motion capture systems, force/torque sensors, HD projection, high-intensity light sources, and a suite of camera sensors. Moreover, it hosts ExoMy rovers, ROS programming environments, and visual components for simulation, fostering a comprehensive ecosystem for robotics development and testing. The presence of specialised tools such as haptic control systems, grippers, cameras, and sensors, positions the proving ground as a hub for innovation, experimentation, and refinement in the robotics domain.

  • The programme offers a multitude of invaluable benefits to the industry and technological advancement. Firstly, it serves as an incubator for innovation, providing a controlled yet dynamic environment where new ideas can be explored, tested, and refined. By offering state-of-the-art facilities encompassing diverse robotic systems, simulation environments, advanced sensors, and prototyping capabilities, it becomes a playground for experimentation and creativity. This allows engineers, researchers, and developers to push the boundaries of robotics technology, fostering breakthroughs and advancements that might not be possible in conventional settings.

    Secondly, a robotics proving ground acts as a catalyst for industry progress and growth. It serves as a convergence point where businesses, academia, and technology intersect, fostering collaborations and partnerships. Through networking opportunities, access to industry-specific advice, and exposure to cutting-edge technologies, it facilitates knowledge exchange and drives innovation. This not only propels individual companies forward but also contributes to the broader robotics ecosystem, accelerating the pace of technological evolution and contributing to the development of safer, more efficient, and more adaptable robotic systems across various sectors, from manufacturing to healthcare and beyond.

Our partners

Manufacturing Technology Centre

Manufacturing Technology Centre

The Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC) has technical and commercial knowledge to support development of new technologies to improve UK industry and state of the art equipment which can be utilised to support the robotics proving ground activity. The MTC will also facilitate access to the wider High Value Manufacturing Catapult network.

Strong contacts with academic organisations, businesses (including end users and technology providers), across a variety of different sectors (including but not limited to Aerospace, Defence, Agri-Tech, Construction, Food and Drink, Fast Moving Consuming Goods, Power and Energy), automation and robotics supply chains as well as trade associations and other communities provide extensive networks with whom we can engage.

Satellite Applications Catapult

The Satellite Applications IOSM Robotics facility provides testing and validation facilities for in-orbit robotics and is a unique facility of its size in the UK that can also test other robotic systems and technologies.

The IOSM Yard is a state-of-the-art facility for testing close-proximity operations and in-orbit servicing technologies providing users with a dynamic platform to validate their technologies prior to launch using robotics equipment to simulate a microgravity environment. Particularly relevant for technologies such as guidance sensors & software, docking mechanisms and servicing robots, the system can achieve high levels of accuracy and repeatability allowing representative mission testing to be carried out.

Satellite Applications Catapult
Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult

Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult

The Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult operates the UK’s most comprehensive open-access research, engineering, test and validation services to accelerate the deployment of offshore renewable energy. Our facilities across the UK range from industry leading testing rigs to controlled real world environments (turbines, drydocks and wind farms).

With highly experienced teams of technical researchers, industry specialists, test engineers and robotics experts, ORE Catapult is equipped to deliver services to support technology development and drive down costs within offshore renewable energy. If you are looking to develop, demonstrate and test robotic or remotely operated technology in this rapidly growing international market, ORE Catapult can provide support.

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Related Events and Recordings


Robotics Proving Ground launch event

12.00 - 13.00 | Online

Slides available
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