Innovate UK launches �5m robotics and autonomy competition

A £5m competition to boost the development of robotics and autonomous systems (RAS) in the UK has been announced by Innovate UK and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.

The government hopes the money will encourage businesses to develop novel autonomous applications in many sectors of the UK economy.

“We are looking for proposals that will speed up the development of RAS technologies towards demonstration and commercialisation,” Innovate UK said in its announcement.

Proposals can be for systems that are physical, for example a next-generation robot, or merely a digital development, for example an automated decision-making system.

Innovate UK believes that the development of robots capable of learning, adapting and taking decisions by themselves independent of human control could revolutionise the British economy and society over the next 20 years.

Disruptive technologies related to RAS include mobile internet, automation of knowledge work, advanced robotics and automated and autonomous vehicles.

“These technologies have the potential for an annual economic impact of $9.8-$19.3tr (£7.5tr-£14.7tr) in 2025,” Innovate UK said.

“The UK has world-leading strengths in the underlying science and engineering that contributes to RAS. It also has access to the markets that could exploit them.

The competition is already open, but applicants must register by noon on 19 October 2016 to take part and submit their final designs by 26 October 2016.

The competition is designed to fund a number of projects, so the maximum cost cannot exceed £500,000 and should last between six and 15 months.

More information on how to apply can be found here.

A recent study by the International Labour Organisation found that 137 million jobs could be lost in South-east Asian countries due to the increasing prevalence of robots and automation in factories and other sectors. 

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