National Robotarium launches in Edinburgh with huge collaboration announcement

Image credit: Colin Hattersley Photography

THE UK’s National Robotarium, which officially opens today (September 28) in Edinburgh, has announced a major applied engineering and research collaboration with Tata Consultancy Services (TCS).

The £22.4 million centre for robotics and artificial intelligence is described as the ‘largest and most advanced’ of its kind in the UK. It was designed by Michael Laird Architects and built by Robertson Construction.

The facility will collaborate with TCS on applied engineering and joint research across disciplines including soft robotics, field robotics, co-bot and tele-operations. The agreement also covers areas of societal need including social and geriatric care.

Utilising expertise from Heriot-Watt University and the University of Edinburgh, TCS Research will collaborate with the National Robotarium to create solutions to global challenges using robotics and AI research, product design, and new technology creation.

Stewart Miller, CEO of the National Robotarium, said, “This exciting collaboration is a fitting milestone to announce during the official opening ceremony of the National Robotarium. The partnership will enable TCS and the National Robotarium to bring together our vast combined experience and expertise, elevating the robotics and artificial intelligence offering of both organisations as a result.

“Together we will deliver applied solutions across a range of challenges informed by TCS’ clients, utilising the unique facilities of our new building and adopting an enhanced approach which aims to de-risk and speed up adoption in the market. We will shortly announce a joint programme of focused research, which will outline some of the future technologies required in the field of robotics and AI.”

Based at Heriot-Watt University’s Edinburgh campus, the National Robotarium facility brings together academics and companies ranging in size from global businesses to start-ups.

The facility is part of the Data-Driven Innovation initiative, supported by £21 million from the UK Government and £1.4 million from the Scottish Government.

K. Ananth Krishnan, chief technology officer of Tata Consultancy Services (TCS),  said, “TCS is delighted to announce this crucial strategic partnership with The National Robotarium. As part of this agreement, we will leverage the TCS Pace philosophy and ecosystem to accelerate industrial collaboration and increase the adoption of AI and robotics solutions that can help resolve some of the most important social issues facing the world today.”

The National Robotarium building houses three research and development areas, providing facilities for Robotics & Autonomous Systems (RAS), Human & Robotics Interaction (HRI), and High Precision Manufacturing. Amongst the specialist equipment is an autonomous systems lab and a living lab for trialling technology in a realistic home setting, It also includes an education hub with a schools outreach programme engaging young people in a robotics career.

The building’s design focuses on sustainability and energy efficiency. In winter, the facade will provide solar heat and recycle warm air while a solar PV array is installed on the roof.