Our goal at the National Robotarium is to advance research on a global stage.

We promote a vibrant ecosystem of national and international robotics and AI research across three distinct areas, Robotics & Autonomous Systems (RAS), Human & Robotics Interaction (HRI) and High Precision Manufacturing.

We are home to world-leading experts from Heriot-Watt University and the University of Edinburgh and seek to explore collaborative interaction between humans, robots and their environments, translating cutting-edge research into new technologies.

We also have strong links with the Edinburgh Centre of Robotics, which produces highly-skilled graduates who are trained to conduct world-leading responsible research with effective scientific, creative, ethical and enterprise skills, coupled to industry and market awareness.

CDT-RAS £18m

The CDT-RAS, based in the Edinburgh Centre for Robotics, is leading the UK’s effort to realise its potential in the field of Robotics and Autonomous. Following its initial funding in 2013, the Centre was awarded an additional £18m in 2019 to train 90 PhD students in the research areas of safety and safe interaction between robots, people and their environments.

Led by Directors Professor Helen Hastie and Dr Michael Mistry, the Centre offers a 4-year PhD programme in Robotics and Autonomous Systems, including additional training in responsible research and enterprise. Harnessing the potential of 30 world-leading investigators from 12 disciplinary research groups at Heriot-Watt and the University of Edinburgh, the centre is dedicated to producing a new generation of highly-skilled researchers and roboticists, who are innovation-ready and equipped to work within science and industry alike.

If you would like to find out more about our work with the CDT-RAS, please contact Business Development Manager, Lisa Farrell at lisa.farrell@hw.ac.uk


Following its launch in 2017, the ORCA Hub, a collaborative project led by Heriot-Watt University and the University of Edinburgh in partnership with Imperial College London, and the Universities of Liverpool and Oxford, developed new technology and partnerships to enable the use of robots and autonomous intelligent systems for the offshore energy industry.

The hub was one of three funded by the UK government’s £93m R&D funding on ‘Robotics and AI for Extreme Environments’ through the Industry Strategic Challenge Fund. During its funded period, ORCA developed technologies that enabled reliable, robust and certifiable robot-assisted intervention capabilities for the offshore domain over four distinct areas: Intelligent Human-Robot Interaction, Mapping, Surveying and Inspection, Robot and Asset Self-Certification, and Planning, Control and Manipulation.

In 2022, it was announced that applied technology and industry partnerships developed at ORCA would continue at the National Robotarium.

TAS Node in Trust £3.8m

As artificial intelligence becomes more deeply integrated within various systems, enabling those systems to make their own decisions and act on their own, an inevitable question arises: can they be trusted?

The UKRI Trustworthy Autonomous Systems (TAS) Node in Trust addresses this critical question, and aims to drive forward cross-disciplinary fundamental research to create the autonomous systems of the future. The programme is led by Heriot-Watt’s Professor Helen Hastie, joint academic lead of the National Robotarium and Director of the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Robotics and Autonomous Systems.

The challenge of managing trust between humans and autonomous systems is particularly difficult. TAS will spearhead research that examines how robotic and autonomous systems can be more transparent in their actions and thereby instil trust in their human users. It will develop world-leading best practice for the design, regulation and operation of trusted autonomous systems.

Through a multidisciplinary approach, grounded in psychology and cognitive science, TAS will spearhead foundational research on how humans, robots and autonomous systems can work together, considering how best a shared reality can be built through human-robot interaction. It will look at how to make this interaction transparent, so it can be trusted, and how to establish, maintain and repair trust by incorporating the subjective view of humans towards autonomous systems.

The UKRI Trustworthy Autonomous Systems (TAS) programme is funded through the UKRI Strategic Priorities Fund and delivered by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC). The programme brings together the research communities and key stakeholders to drive forward cross-disciplinary fundamental research to ensure that autonomous systems are safe, reliable, resilient, ethical and trusted.

AMPER £450k

Professor in Computer Science, Ruth Aylett, and Dr Mei Yii Lim from Heriot-Watt University are developing an artificial intelligence companion that will aid memory recollection, boost confidence and combat depression in people living with Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia.  

The ground-breaking ‘Agent-based Memory Prosthesis to Encourage Reminiscing’ (AMPER) project, in partnership with the University of Strathclyde, was awarded £450k of funding by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council to help demonstrate how AI companions can become more widely used and integrated into domestic, educational, health and assistive-needs settings.

Other projects

Open AAL

Multi-disciplinary Ambient Assisted Living Lab.

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Combatting online GBV

Using AI to tackle online Gender Based Violence.


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Amazon SimBot

Team EMMA (Embodied MultiModal Agent)


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Tissue Assessment for Robot-Assisted Surgery.


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Socially Pertinent Robots in Gerontological Healthcare.


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