Members of the UKRI (UK Research and Innovation) Board visited Heriot-Watt University for a tour of its new National Robotarium on 10 May.

Board members, which included Chief Executive Professor Dame Ottoline Leyser DBE FRS and Director General for Science Innovation and Growth at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Jo Shanmugalingam, joined Heriot-Watt University and the University of Edinburgh Principals, Professor Richard A. Williams and Peter Mathieson, and others, for a walk through the purpose-built facility, where they were updated on its development so far and visions for the future.

The group were shown examples of the kind of robotic technology that will be tested and developed at the site once it opens for business later this year, including a demo by Boston Dynamics robot dog, Spot, which has been used by construction company, Robertson, to record and analyse vital data across the hazardous areas of the National Robotarium building site. They also got a glimpse of the new Assisted Living Lab, which will emulate a real-life living environment for testing robotic solutions to support independent living in the home.

Following the tour, the group sat down for a round-table discussion that covered the universities’ progress in developing research collaborations with industry partners, and proposals for future growth and development of the multi-million pound facility.

Stewart Miller, Chief Executive at the National Robotarium, said:

“It was a privilege to meet with our guests from UKRI and demonstrate how investment in the National Robotarium will have a direct benefit to society and the UK economy. Scotland already has a rich background in robotics and AI and the establishment of the National Robotarium is the next phase in positioning us as global leaders in this rapidly growing industry.

“Our new building will not only be home to cutting edge technology, automated systems, and laser labs, but will also include multiple collaboration spaces for industry partners to work directly with us to develop and test their ideas.

“Creating this synergy between industry, science, talent development and enterprise is what’s going to help drive the National Robotarium to achieve its goal to becoming a world-leading centre for robotics and AI.”

Professor Richard A. Williams, Heriot-Watt Principal and Vice-Chancellor, said:

“Heriot-Watt University is immensely proud to partner with the University of Edinburgh in the creation of the National Robotarium. As global leaders in robotics and autonomous systems, we were thrilled to welcome colleagues from the UKRI and showcase its potential as a world-leading centre for innovation.

“It is a shining example of how strong partnerships between universities and industry can drive research and technology, create jobs, and make a positive impact to society.