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3 minute read - 28th September 2022

New £22.4m robotics research centre opens in Scotland

The UK’s National Robotarium, a pioneering £22.4m centre for robotics and artificial intelligence, has officially opened in Edinburgh.

Based at Heriot-Watt University’s Edinburgh campus, the purpose-built National Robotarium facility provides a catalyst for entrepreneurship, bringing together academics and companies ranging in size from global businesses to innovative startups. The facility is the largest and most advanced of its kind in the UK and is expected to deliver sustainable economic benefit to Edinburgh, the UK and beyond.

The National Robotarium is part of the Data-Driven Innovation initiative, supported by £21m from the UK government and £1.4m from the Scottish government. The initiative aims to turn Edinburgh into the data capital of Europe and is part of the wider £1.3bn Edinburgh and South-East Scotland City Region Deal. The National Robotarium has also announced a major applied engineering and research collaboration with Tata Consultancy Services (TCS).

The £22.4m National Robotarium has officially opened in Edinburgh – it’s the largest and most advanced facility of its kind in the UK / Picture: Paul Zanre Photography

The facility will collaborate with TCS on applied engineering and joint research across multiple disciplines including soft robotics, field robotics, co-bot and tele-operations. Significantly, the agreement also covers areas of urgent societal need including social and geriatric care, a sector in which the National Robotarium is already well-known.

Utilising expertise from both Heriot-Watt University and the University of Edinburgh, TCS Research will collaborate with the world-leading National Robotarium to create innovative solutions to global challenges using cutting-edge robotics and AI research, product design and new technology creation. The agreement with the National Robotarium will build on and support a wider partnership between Heriot-Watt University and TCS which will additionally include education, information technology and innovation developments.

Picture: Paul Zanre Photography

Stewart Miller, CEO of the National Robotarium, said: “This exciting collaboration is a fitting milestone to announce during the official opening ceremony of the National Robotarium. The partnership will enable TCS and the National Robotarium to bring together our vast combined experience and expertise, elevating the robotics and artificial intelligence offering of both organisations as a result.

“Together we will deliver applied solutions across a range of challenges informed by TCS’ clients, utilising the unique facilities of our new building and adopting an enhanced approach which aims to de-risk and speed up adoption in the market. We will shortly announce a joint programme of focused research, which will outline some of the future technologies required in the field of robotics and AI.

“This announcement is the first of many for the National Robotarium as we ramp up our global collaborative activities. Britain has a long and rich heritage of delivering cutting-edge innovation on the world stage. The opening of this dedicated, state-of-the-art facility is another important milestone in that story and one which I believe demonstrates Scotland and the UK’s role at the forefront of global developments in AI and robotics.”

Picture: Paul Zanre Photography

Dr Gillian Murray, deputy principal for business and enterprise at Heriot-Watt University, added: “This unique and groundbreaking facility is already helping to inform and lead the future applications of robotics and AI on the global stage. Strategic partnerships like this will accelerate that process, ensuring that the expertise of the National Robotarium is sought after to address a multitude of global societal challenges. Entrepreneurship and collaboration lie at the heart of Heriot-Watt University’s ethos and we look forward to working in partnership with the National Robotarium to accelerate its research from lab to market.”

K. Ananth Krishnan, chief technology officer at Tata Consultancy Services, said: “TCS is delighted to announce this crucial strategic partnership with The National Robotarium. As part of this agreement, we will leverage the TCS Pace™ philosophy and ecosystem to accelerate industrial collaboration and increase the adoption of AI and robotics solutions that can help resolve some of the most important social issues facing the world today. We are truly excited to start working with The National Robotarium and achieving our shared goal of empowering people’s lives with innovative technology.”

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