Construction of UK’s National Robotarium commences

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Work has begun to build the UK’s National Robotarium in Edinburgh, Scotland, with the research facility for robotics and AI due to open next year.

Based at Heriot-Watt University’s Edinburgh campus, the robotics research centre will reportedly be the largest and most advanced of its type in the country. Upon completion, the facility aims to bring together academics and global companies for research, product design and industry collaboration.

The 40,000ft ² building will house three distinct research and development areas and provide bespoke facilities for robotics and autonomous systems (RAS), human and robotics interaction (HRI) and high-precision manufacturing.

Key areas of research application will include hazardous environments, offshore energy, manufacturing, healthcare, human-robot interaction, assisted living and agri-tech. Furthermore, specialist equipment in dedicated laser labs, an autonomous systems laboratory, and a living lab will be used for trialling technology in a realistic home setting.

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According to those behind the facility, the National Robotarium will provide a catalyst for entrepreneurship and is expected to deliver sustainable economic benefits to Edinburgh, the UK and beyond.

Professor Helen Hastie, joint academic lead of the National Robotarium, said: “As a world-leading facility that will promote entrepreneurship and drive forward early-stage product development, the National Robotarium will play a significant role in supporting the UK’s economic recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.

“By drawing upon the world-class talent of the staff at Heriot-Watt and our collaborative partner, the University of Edinburgh, alongside students at the Centre for Doctoral Training in Robotics and Autonomous Systems, the National Robotarium will form a centre of excellence for fundamental research and knowledge exchange to address real-world challenges and industry needs.”

Robertson Construction, the project’s main contractor, has been working in partnership with Heriot-Watt University to safely start work on the building despite lockdown restrictions.

David Cairns, managing director, Robertson Construction Central East, said: “The National Robotarium building is designed to be as innovative as the research taking place within its walls.

“The commitment to sustainability and the wellbeing of its staff and students mean the facility will be equipped with state-of-the-art technology for energy efficiency and production and will boast considerable green space.”

The National Robotarium is supported by £21m in funding from the UK government and £1.4m from the Scottish government as part of the Edinburgh and South East Scotland city region deal.

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