Drones will fly over Salford Quays today as the Northern Robotics Network (NRN) is official launched at MediaCity UK.
The NRN is designed to bring together academia and industry to help grow the robotics and autonomous systems sector in the North West by working with partner organisations at national level and encouraging investment to grow innovative supply chain skills in the region.
The launch coincides with a major technology conference bringing together 300 of the region's top experts from a range of industries involved in the technology, including food production, manufacturing, nuclear, aerospace and rail.
Demonstrations will highlight the work of SMEs in the North already operating successfully using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and autonomous systems in business as diverse as demolition and the nuclear industry.
Paul Mort, chairman of the NRN, said: "By collaborating with our partners, academia and commercial enterprise we can create new economic opportunities across the UK and worldwide faster and more productively than previously possible.
"The aim is to establish our network as a northern powerhouse for robotics and autonomous systems, growing it on behalf of UK plc and export the applications and products across global markets."
The network is free to join and will organise various meetings, events and networking for the Northern robotics community, with a focus on encouraging an interdisciplinary approach to robotics and autonomous systems.
Speaking ahead of the event, founding member Professor Samia Nefti-Meziani from the University of Salford said: “Robots, computers and smart technology will change the way we work, do business – even how we care for our families.
"Prime Minister David Cameron described robotics as one of the eight great technologies of the future and one we believe will emerge as a powerhouse for the North. To fulfil this potential, we need a forum in which to work together and that is what we hope to achieve with the NRN."
The event at MediaCity UK today will include speakers and exhibitors from Siemens, Rolls Royce, ABB, Festo, the National Nuclear Laboratory and more than 30 SMEs, with demonstrations of robotics from regional companies and from the University of Salford and the University of Manchester.