The first UK Robotics Week will take place at the end of June next year to celebrate the best of UK robotics and inspire future innovators.
The event, announced during a showcase at the Royal Academy of Engineering, will feature lectures, seminars as well as a series of challenges for UK school children and international robot developers.
“The purpose of the UK robotics week is to shine a spotlight on UK robotics research,” said Kedar Pandya, Head of Engineering at the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council. “It is to inspire the next generation of leaders, to get school children involved and to really create buzz around robotics in the UK.”
In the School Robot Challenge, open to children between 4 and 17 years of age, school children from all over the UK will be encouraged to design and build a robotic bug inspired by nature.
“School kids can choose a bug, a ladybird, or a butterfly or a caterpillar, and then they take a photo or print a photo from the Internet and then with that photo, they design a model, print that model and then they have to automate it and turn it into a robotic system,” Pandya explained.
The competition will mostly use hardware commonly available at schools, but will also offer low-cost 3D printers and robotic kits to the participating schools.
In addition to the School Robot Challenge, designed to encourage interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, the UK Robotics Week will also include the finals of a series of international academic challenges, in which leading robotic research groups from around the world will come to the UK to demonstrate the very latest robotic technology including surgical robots, autonomous cars and UAVs.
With the global market for service and industrial robots expected to reach $59.5bn by 2020, the UK government has identified robotics as one of the 8 Great Technologies central to the future growth of the UK economy. The initiative is being coordinated by the EPSRC UK-RAS network and partner universities.
“From driverless cars to tiny surgical robots, there is an array of exciting possibilities in robotics that can improve our lives. It’s critical that we inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers to help develop these new technologies,” said Universities and Science Minister Jo Johnson. “I strongly encourage schools across the country to get involved in this robot design challenge as part of the first ever UK Robotics Week.”
3D printed bioinspired robot bugs showcased during the launch event to provide inspiration for School Robot Challenge participants: