Bristol welcomes Robot sports and conference

21 August 2012
By Abi Grogan
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Bristol Robotics Laboratory

The Bristol Robotics Laboratory, which is the largest of its type in the UK and home to a community of 70 academics and businesses.

As the Olympic Games draws to a close, the Bristol Robotics Laboratory yesterday welcomed the FIRA world cup to the city; a robotic sporting competition running from 20-25 August, featuring heat categories for sports such as football, basketball and weightlifting.

The event will be hosted by winning organisational body BRL, alongside leading industry event Towards Autonomous Robotics Systems (TAROS). The BRL had to bid for the events much like other host countries bidding for the Olympic Games. The BRL, which officially opened its doors last year, is a joint research initiative between Bristol University and the University of West England and is the largest robotics laboratory of its kind in the UK. The facility is managed by Professor Chris Malhuish.

"Bristol has a history of robotics stretching back to Grey Walter in the 1950s," said Malhuish. "The city is a leading centre for UK robotics as exemplified by the Bristol Robotics Laboratory, which boasts a robotics community including researchers and both masters and undergraduate students in robotics. The exciting FIRA/TAROS events give them a wonderful opportunity to listen to renowned speakers, presenting to a wide audience, exposure to new ideas and making valuable contacts for future activities."

Twenty-seven teams will be competing in the FIRA cup, with 202 participants arriving from across the world at the science and technology venue At-Bristol this week. This is the first time that the FIRA competition has been held in the UK and will feature traditional events such as the HuroCup, a walking humanoid category including heats in football, basketball, wall climbing, weightlifting and marathon running.

The competition will be hosted alongside the annual conference TAROS supported by the IET, who will be providing a free lecture called "The Era of Social Robots". The event is also supported by UK Knowledge Networks and the British Automation & Robotics Association (BARA). 

Leader of the BRL bid, Dr Guido Herrmann from the University of Bristol, said the organisation is looking forward to welcoming teams from around the world to the city.

"The competition promises to be both exciting and insightful, pushing the boundaries of robotics to the limit. This will be a fantastic opportunity for the public to see just what autonomous robots are capable of. Although very different to the Olympics, it’s another opportunity to show the world just what Great Britain is capable of – both as event hosts and being pioneers of engineering.”

Further information

More information on free event FIRA and industry conference TAROS can be found here: http://www.taros.org.uk/

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