Robotics & Autonomous Systems: EPSRC UK-RAS Network

Lead Research Organisation: Imperial College London
Department Name: Dept of Computing

Abstract

The EPSRC UK-RAS Network (http://uk-ras.org) was established in 2015 with the aim of bringing together academic centres of excellence, industry, government funding bodies and charities to strategically grow the UK-RAS research base, acting as a portal to interface with industry and deliver technological advances with the potential for translational uptake. Since its foundation, the UK-RAS Network has helped transform the research landscape of Robotics and Autonomous Systems in the UK, bringing cohesion to the UK-RAS research base, enhancing capital facilities across the country, supporting education programmes and public engagement activities at all levels.

The UK-RAS Network has successfully strengthened the research landscape and interdisciplinary community of RAS by facilitating synergistic research and education programmes across the UK. It has also significantly raised the awareness of RAS nationally through the UK Robotics Week, strengthened the interaction between the research community and end-users, enhanced the linkages of CDTs, provided coordinated investment to state-of-the-art capital facilities, and exerted significant influence on future direction and national policies of RAS and AI. However, there are further gap analysis activities and cross-disciplinary developments in RAS research need to be made, and, as research moves toward technology departments, engagement programmes offering knowledge and training for marketisation and commercialisation need to be addressed, through strategic industrial partnerships, cross-promoting existing programmes and facilitating further access.

This grant is to build the success achieved, expand the current UK-RAS portfolio as identified by the recent EPSRC RAS Theme Day Report, strengthen collaboration with parallel industrial activities, both nationally and internationally, and support the government's industrial strategy challenge fund (ISCF) as Robotics and Autonomous Systems is ubiquitous in all the major themes identified. will continue to grow the RAS community, through increased university membership, Innovate UK KTNs, The UK Automatic Control Council (UKACC), EPSRC Robotics Hubs, and the RAI-SIG. New activities of the Network will include entrepreneurial programmes, support SMEs and a vibrant UK-RAS eco-system, industrial fellowship schemes, management of national RAS assets, STEM ambassador programmes in RAS, establishment of UK RAS & AI topic groups, as well as planned network events including annual UK Robotics Week, Robotics Challenges, public engagement events and exhibitions.

Planned Impact

The main objectives of the continuation grant is to build on the existing success of the UK-RAS Network, expand its remit to have stronger inter-disciplinary and inter-technology connections (e.g. materials, control, biology and environment) to address future grand challenges of RAS and foster collaboration across key RAS centres in the UK and internationally, supported by a coordinated effort in doctoral training, building a vibrant RAS eco-system with direct industrial involvement and effective pathways for knowledge exchange and commercial exploitation. The expected impacts include:

- Shared infrastructure for research in RAS developing strong industrial connections and provision of experimental facilities relevant to key sectors and challenges;

- Closer collaboration among leading UK research groups on joint funding opportunities, cultivating our relationships with our European partners post Brexit, as well as building deeper international links and to accelerate the exploration, technological development and applications of RAS;

- The creation of a vibrant environment for exchange of knowledge, flow of people and promotion of collaboration between UKRI funded projects and stimulating and supporting new larger-scale projects at higher Technology Readiness Levels involving multiple institutions;

- Enhanced public awareness on how RAS can address the social-economic challenges and help sustain the future growth of the UK through a diverse range of planned public engagement activities;

- Seamlessly linked doctoral training programmes (CDT) with a consistent and coherent process, propagation of best practice, access to pooled resources and secondment opportunities, and the establishment of a thriving environment for interdisciplinary mobility and nurturing new talents in RAS;

- National coordination of real world RAS assets and synergistic usage of the capital equipment across all UK centres supported by resource sharing, knowledge exchange and comprehensive training programmes;

- Increased influence on the future direction and investment of RAS at national, EU and international levels, leading to a sustainable eco-system for the UK RAS to thrive.

The Network will promote Responsible Innovation throughout the UK-RAS communities by anticipating ethical, regulatory, and legal considerations of wider deployment of RAS and those that may arise in the next 5, 10 and 20 years, reflecting on the current RAS programmes of work, develop mechanisms for engaging with the wider community including the public and government policy makers and acting to ensure that RAS research is carried out for the best interest of society. By working with the EPSRC ORBIT for delivering responsible research innovation services, the Network will incorporate the established AREA framework for responsible innovation throughout the Network's activities.

Publications

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Title Drawing - School Robot Competition 
Description We are launching a 'Draw a Robot' competition in May 2020 as part of the portfolio of activities under our School Robot Competition website 
Type Of Art Artwork 
Year Produced 2020 
Impact None yet. 
URL https://www.ukras.org/school-robot-competition/
 
Title School Robot Competition - Creative Writing 
Description We are launching a creative writing competition as part of our School Robot Competition portfolio of activities. The competition will be launched in May 2020. 
Type Of Art Creative Writing 
Year Produced 2020 
Impact None yet. 
URL https://www.ukras.org/school-robot-competition/
 
Description One of the key outputs of the UK-RAS Network grant is the establishment of the UK Robotics Week. UK Robotics Week is taking place in the final week of June 2020. It will include 4 challenges: Surgical Robot Challenge, Manufacturing Robot Challenge and Robots for Resilient Infrastructure and the School Robot Challenge. This family of challenges is aimed at academia, industry, schools and the general public. The academic challenges will showcase the latest developments in robotic and autonomous systems technologies, whilst the School Robot Challenge will act as a key outreach activity for the Network, encouraging children into robot engineering and furthering digital skills. UK Robotics Week also includes three national and international robotics conferences in the UK and a range of robotics activities around the country. Another key output is the development of a UK-RAS Network website and social media engagement. The website is a large active site that reports on the latest robotics and autonomous initiatives relevant to the UK.
Exploitation Route The next initiative of the network is the creation of strategic task groups. The UK-RAS Network is seeking to fund a number of Strategic Task Groups through which a variety of activities can be organised. These issue-based interest groups will be initiated by members of the UK-RAS Network. In collaboration with the Executive Committee, the task groups will organise and coordinate continuous activities focused on research interests.

The aims of any task group could cover some of the following:

identify research gaps and challenges;
devise roadmaps or strategic solutions via: the production of white papers; organisation of robotics challenges; workshops; symposia and conferences;
create public engagement activities, such as: exhibitions; hackathons; festivals; conferences; demonstrations;
promote academia-industry liaison;
develop scoping projects to explore wider research collaboration.
Activities can span the full spectrum from basic research to technological development and concrete innovation, developing paths of knowledge transfer, as well as identifying actual and potential academia-industry cooperation. Strategic Task Groups will be instrumental to providing future strategic direction to the UK, the Network, and its relationship with other relevant organisations.

Through these types of activities it is hoped that members and non-members of the network will become involved with cross-institutional and cross-disciplinary activities, research projects and events, promote ground-up engagement, drive strategic decisions, and influence policy and funding decisions, as well as promote RAS research within the UK.
Sectors Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Agriculture, Food and Drink,Chemicals,Communities and Social Services/Policy,Construction,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Education,Energy,Healthcare,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology,Transport

URL https://www.ukras.org/robotics-week/
 
Description The UK-RAS Network grant has four main components of impact. The first of these is the creation of an annual UK Robotics Week (http://roboticsweek.uk), first held annually in June. This initiative had over 160 robotics events organised around the country. There were 4 robotics challenges (Surgical Robot Challenge, Manufacturing Robot Challenge and Robots for Resilient Infrastructure and the School Robot Challenge), academic conferences (Hamlyn Symposium on Medical Robotics, TAROS, UK-RAS PGR Conference), an international robotics showcase event and a series of workshops, lectures and open days for academic, industrial and public audiences. The fourth Robotics Week (June 2020) will encompass over 160 events; the International Showcase event is aiming to attract over 300 delegates, 18-25 exhibitors and sponsors. We have launched 10 new white papers (AI, Social Care, Extreme Environments and Resilient Infrastructure) and will be launching a further 2 this year. A 3rd UK-RAS Conference for PhD and Early Career researchers will also be held in April 2020. This has in previous years attracted over 150 delegates from the network with 12 papers selected for presentation. These papers are then invited to participate at TAROS 2020. Preparations are underway for the 4th UK Robotics Week 2020 to be held 23-30 June 2020. The second key area of impact is policy. The network has produced ten white papers in robotics that outline the state-of the art of robotic technology and propose a roadmap for the next 25 years. New white papers are being prepared in Agile productions and Resilient Infrastructure. The UK RAS Network regularly provides insight and expertise in robotics to BEIS as well as participating in UK sector consultation committees. The third key area of impact is capital equipment. The UK RAS Network has produced a database to outline all capital equipment and facilities throughout the network to ensure accessibility and effective use. The fourth key area of impact is collaboration. The UK RAS Network has effectively brought together key UK Universities that specialise in robotics and autonomous systems from over 30 university members including Imperial College London, UCL, Bristol/UWE, Edinburgh/Heriot-Watt, Oxford, Warwick, Southampton, Surrey, Cambridge, Sheffield/Liverpool, Leeds, Loughborough and King's College London. This collaboration is strengthened by monthly executive meetings, an active UK RAS website (http://ukras.org) and an effective social media presence. Membership continues to grow and current members have now grown to 30 universities, a number of industrial and strategic partners and international collaborations.
First Year Of Impact 2016
Sector Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Agriculture, Food and Drink,Chemicals,Construction,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Education,Electronics,Energy,Environment,Healthcare,Government, Democracy and Justice,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology,Security and Diplomacy
Impact Types Cultural,Societal,Economic,Policy & public services

 
Title Capital Facilities and Equipment Database 
Description The UK-RAS Network is appointing an administrator to collate all data on the Network's Capital Facilities and Equipment, with a view to creating an online database and booking system for members to access. The database will enable the more effective use of all the facilities and equipment available at the different institutions within the network, maximising access, economic impact and availability greater research impact and development. 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2019 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact Increased usage of shared facilities, updates of equipment and awareness of resources across the UK. 
URL https://www.ukras.org/capital-facilities/database-of-network-facilities/
 
Description Collaboration with Twinkl for School Robot Challenge 
Organisation Twinkl
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution The School Robot Competition aims to engage with all primary schoolchildren and schools across the UK and in partnership with Twinkl - a thriving educational publisher with the largest collection of high quality digital teaching materials in the world. They are proud to create educational resources that can be used at each step of a child's learning journey. Their teacher-created resources provide entire schemes of work, lesson planning and assessments right through to online educational games, augmented reality and so much more. They have over 525,000 resources and new content gets added every day. The School Robot Competition is an augmented reality app in which schoolchildren download and use to build a robot to navigate various terrains. The competition is judged ont he basis of design, creativity and progress within the scope and levels of the game.
Collaborator Contribution Twinkl has designed the augmented reality app that is used int he school robot competition as well as handout flyers on different areas of robotics to accompany the app. The content was provided by academic experts within the UK-RAS network and adapted as teaching material by Twinkl.
Impact Factsheets, blog, AR app, Miro-E coding training course to winners.
Start Year 2019
 
Description Legged Robotics and Locomotion Technical Committee 
Organisation University of Oxford
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution The UK-RAS Network has funded this Task group. The aim of this Task Group is to provide a central organising hub to bring together UK academics in the emerging field of dynamic walking robots. We intend to form a collective body of academics, researchers and industrial partners in legged and mobile robotics in the UK, host public engagement events in 2020, and catalyse potential emerging industrial sectors for assisted living, warehouse logistics, construction and more. By hosting the proposed events, we aim to underpin the UK's potential for autonomous legged & mobile robotics and educate early career research students in the field. This body would parallel international bodies including IEEE RAS technical committees: Whole Body Control https://www.whole-body-control.org/index.php Humanoid Robotics https://www.ieee-ras.org/humanoid-robotics Model-based optimization https://www.ieee-ras.org/model-based-optimization-for-robotics
Collaborator Contribution The following actively contributed to this proposal: Ioannis Havoutis (Oxford), Zhibin Li (Edinburgh), Chengxu Zhou (Leeds) Other universities and companies which work on legged robotics in the UK: Robert Richardson (Leeds), Sethu Vijayakumar (Edinburgh), Barry Lennox and Simon Watson (Manchester), Xin Dong and Dragos Axinte (Nottingham), Jian Dai (Kings College London), Aldo Faisal and Petar Kormushev (Imperial College London) Emerging companies: React Robotics (Greg Epps) and Zoa Robotics Alternative Application-focused Title: Robotic mobility for assisted living (this is still to be discussed)
Impact Events and Public Engagement. We plan to organize exhibitions in UK robotics week & London showcase to strengthen academia-industry connections, and workshops in national and international conferences. For each activity, we will provide a report describing the event and activities on UK-RAS website as well as social media, including (interview) articles and promotional videos. White Paper. We will also produce a White Paper on this new emerging technology to propose strategic solutions and viable means to address research challenges in the UK landscape, to propose promising areas for academia-industry collaborations that are suited with UK's particular strength and leadership in the robotics. 1. UK Robotics Week / the International Robotics Showcase 2020 (26th June 2020) a) This event could involve a public interaction element - perhaps with a public demonstration of engagement of quadruped walking robots in a city centre location. b) An initial day or half day workshop on legged robotics. Ideally this would be associated with the TAROS 2020 conference (Nottingham, 22/23/24 July). It might make sense to coordinate this with the UK manipulation workshop which has been held regularly http://www.robot-manipulation.uk 2. Two day autumn/winter school on dynamic robots. This event would provide a scientific introduction (late 2020). There may also be the opportunity to host UK students at a similar event being organised in the University of Oxford as part of the MEMMO EU project (early July, TBC) 3. Organisation of an international workshop in conjunction with an international conference (ICRA/IROS/RSS). For example, a continuation of a series Dr. Kanoulas, Havoutis and Fallon have previously hosted in 2019: https://icra2019wslocomotion.wordpress.com/program/ 4. Analysis/Survey of the UK's research in legged robotics and scoping out of future research directions through a white paper (after discussion with UK-RAS).
Start Year 2020
 
Description Policies, regulation & experiences of Urban RAS experiments: USA, Japan and UK 
Organisation University of Sheffield
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Technological advances have extended scope for complex interactions between humans and robotics and autonomous systems technologies (RAS) outside of controlled laboratory environments. The evolving field of 'Urban RAS' is characterised by the use of robots and autonomous technologies that interact with humans in cities on a range of urban management and service delivery tasks. In the U.K. and internationally there is growing policy advocacy for governments to support development of effective experimental spaces in which to refine and de-risk RAS experiments, but this goal is challenging for urban governance bodies and regulators protecting the public realm. These issues were explored by the applicants in a UK-RAS White Paper on 'Urban Robotics and Automation' and an Urban Geography journal article on 'Robotics and Automation in the City'. The UK-RAS Network is funding the proposed work that would bring together UK practitioners, researchers and urban policy-makers to examine the challenges and opportunities involved in urban RAS experimentation, to proactively inform policy and practice in the UK (and internationally). The focus will be a one-day international workshop comparing experiences of urban RAS application in the U.K and selected international contexts, specifically Japan and the U.S.A. The University of Sheffield's Urban Institute (UI) will convene the workshop in partnership with Sheffield Robotics, and support from Robotics at Leeds and University of York Robotics Laboratory. The international component will draw on the applicants' experience in comparative urban research and established institutional and policy contacts in Japan and the U.S.A., including a forthcoming paper in the journal of Urban Studies on 'Urban robotic experimentation: San Francisco, Tokyo and Dubai'. The workshop will build capacity with organisations involved in developing, promoting, regulating and applying diverse RAS city applications. It will lead to the production of a 5-page report, which could form the basis of a follow-on UK-RAS White Paper.
Collaborator Contribution UK: University of York "Assuring Autonomy International Programme (AAIP)" https://www.york.ac.uk/assuring-autonomy/ Dr. Rob Alexander rob.alexander@york.ac.uk Japan: National Institute of Advanced Science and Technology (AIST) - Kentaro Watanabe - Professor of Human Augmentation. USA: University of Berkley, California - Dr. Desiree Fields, Associate Professor of Geography. UK: University of York "Assuring Autonomy International Programme (AAIP)" https://www.york.ac.uk/assuring-autonomy/ Dr. Rob Alexander rob.alexander@york.ac.uk Japan: National Institute of Advanced Science and Technology (AIST) - Kentaro Watanabe - Professor of Human Augmentation. USA: University of Berkley, California - Dr. Desiree Fields, Associate Professor of Geography. Additional Partners TBC Ocado Technology - Duncan Russell, Robotics Research Development Manager RACE (Remote Applications in Challenging Environments) - Rob Buckingham, Director. Connected Places Catapult - Ben Hawes, Associate Director UK Artificial Intelligence Council - Neil Lawrence, Professor of Machine Learning, University of Sheffield. Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) - James Harris, Policy and Networks Manager Innovate UK - Mark Emerton, Senior Innovation Lead for Robotics & AI City Hall, City & County of San Francisco - Erica Maybaum - Emerging Technologies: Legislative Aide to Supervisor Norman Yee. Why is this important to UK-RAS? (500 words max) To date, RAS systems have been primarily developed in tightly regulated contexts such as research labs (Richardson et al., 2017). Recognised by the Government Office for Science White Paper 'Technology and Innovation Futures', there is a need to support robotic applications outside of these controlled environments: 'Contributors stressed the importance of establishing further 'test beds' to experiment with emerging technologies in carefully supervised real-world systems, like cities' (Go-Science, 2017, p.10). Creating 'living laboratories' 'provide[s] a sharp focus to aim developments from basic RAS scientific research into first prototype demonstrators' (Lloyd's Register Foundation, 2016) because urban test beds are 'more open and complex, less predictable, and where [human-RAS interactions] are less controlled' (Marvin et al., 2018). Real world field research is required to de-risk and improve new technologies, and build public support, however creating these spaces and conditions raises critical challenges for urban decision-makers (Lloyds Register, 2016; Marvin et al., 2018). In highly regulated contexts, such as the UK, the potential for RAS living labs is restricted due to: a) limited governmental understanding of the potential for urban RAS and the importance of real world experiments, b) unhelpful or restrictive regulation that lags behind technological advances. This may arise because new RAS technologies would complicate the existing regulation of public or semi-public space), and/or because governments are risk averse on issues of public health and safety, c) societal and political resistance to unfamiliar new technologies. Whilst some organisations can test their intellectual property in urban environments through closed contractual agreements, to prevent UK RAS development being delayed, there is a need 'to identify opportunities for new test beds or for repurposing existing facilities' and to 'maintain a pro-innovation regulatory environment' (Go-Science, 2017, p11&8). There are benefits from looking at emerging good practice in the creation of favourable conditions for urban RAS. Flexible regulatory frameworks to enable urban RAS experimentation are being developed internationally intended to build 'first mover' advantage and support economic development. For example, enabled by strong central control between the Japanese government, national firms and research institutions, Japan's proactive Robot Revolution Strategy (2015) seeks to develop and roll out diverse robotic applications across the country in partnership with urban governments. In California, municipal authorities such as San Francisco have introduced enabling legislation to support delivery robots, whilst a number of US states are supporting real world experiments in AVs and UAVs. Testing permits and monitoring ensure long-term commitment from US tech-development companies and help manage concerns around public safety (Marvin et al., 2018). To date, RAS systems have been primarily developed in tightly regulated contexts such as research labs (Richardson et al., 2017). Recognised by the Government Office for Science White Paper 'Technology and Innovation Futures', there is a need to support robotic applications outside of these controlled environments: 'Contributors stressed the importance of establishing further 'test beds' to experiment with emerging technologies in carefully supervised real-world systems, like cities' (Go-Science, 2017, p.10). Creating 'living laboratories' 'provide[s] a sharp focus to aim developments from basic RAS scientific research into first prototype demonstrators' (Lloyd's Register Foundation, 2016) because urban test beds are 'more open and complex, less predictable, and where [human-RAS interactions] are less controlled' (Marvin et al., 2018). Real world field research is required to de-risk and improve new technologies, and build public support, however creating these spaces and conditions raises critical challenges for urban decision-makers (Lloyds Register, 2016; Marvin et al., 2018). In highly regulated contexts, such as the UK, the potential for RAS living labs is restricted due to: a) limited governmental understanding of the potential for urban RAS and the importance of real world experiments, b) unhelpful or restrictive regulation that lags behind technological advances. This may arise because new RAS technologies would complicate the existing regulation of public or semi-public space), and/or because governments are risk averse on issues of public health and safety, c) societal and political resistance to unfamiliar new technologies. Whilst some organisations can test their intellectual property in urban environments through closed contractual agreements, to prevent UK RAS development being delayed, there is a need 'to identify opportunities for new test beds or for repurposing existing facilities' and to 'maintain a pro-innovation regulatory environment' (Go-Science, 2017, p11&8). There are benefits from looking at emerging good practice in the creation of favourable conditions for urban RAS. Flexible regulatory frameworks to enable urban RAS experimentation are being developed internationally intended to build 'first mover' advantage and support economic development. For example, enabled by strong central control between the Japanese government, national firms and research institutions, Japan's proactive Robot Revolution Strategy (2015) seeks to develop and roll out diverse robotic applications across the country in partnership with urban governments. In California, municipal authorities such as San Francisco have introduced enabling legislation to support delivery robots, whilst a number of US states are supporting real world experiments in AVs and UAVs. Testing permits and monitoring ensure long-term commitment from US tech-development companies and help manage concerns around public safety (Marvin et al., 2018). There is significant potential to learn from these international exemplars to help enable extended RAS field experiments in UK cities and build strategic capacity around a proactive policy landscape for responsible urban RAS experimentation. By reviewing types of urban test-beds, regulatory frameworks, funding arrangements and policies developed inter/nationally, this comparative work will link national innovation priorities for future cities, and UK industrial strategy priorities, to pressing urban issues, to create a social context for RAS applications in cities.
Impact 1. A 1-day workshop involving 15-20 roboticists, social scientists, RAS industry representatives, policymakers, regulators and innovation agencies, that will: a. Compare leading international policy perspectives and assesses emerging experiences in urban RAS experimentation and application beyond enclosed spaces (e.g. from Japan and U.S.A.). This will examine how key issues such as health and safety, regulation, ethics, social acceptance etc. are addressed. b. Review the strengths, limitations and opportunities of the current context for field research testing and deployment in the U.K., compared with selected international good practice examples. 2. A prior documentary review and short telephone discussions with key individuals related to UK urban RAS inform the workshop design and support production of the 5-page report. 3. A 5-page report on 'Policy Opportunities, Challenges and Guidelines for Urban RAS' will set out opportunities to support and regulate RAS innovations and applications in the city, and including a route-map of key next steps for U.K. research and policy priorities. This could form the basis of the production of a journal article and/or follow-on UK-RAS Network White Paper. 4. The workshop will create the core of an international hub of interdisciplinary academic researchers, practitioner organisations and urban decision-making organisations jointly analysing responsible experimentation in and application of 'Urban RAS'. This network will provide a platform for future research on this new and exciting agenda.
Start Year 2020
 
Description ROS Integration of Nuclear Instruments Workshop 
Organisation University of Manchester
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution The UK-RAS network us finidng a workshop to look into ROS Integration. The research community in academia and industry are beginning to capitalise on the benefits offered by remote inspection of extreme environments. One particular sector is nuclear, removing human workers from activities which pose increased risk, for the purposes of routine monitoring through to complex decommissioning challenges. An integral part is the characterisation of radiation fields, not only for stakeholders to plan future activities, but for the longevity of the robot system itself. Many radiation monitoring instruments exist, each tailored to specific emitted radiation (alpha, beta, gamma, neutrons) with a wide range of capabilities, The research community in academia and industry are beginning to capitalise on the benefits offered by remote inspection of extreme environments. One particular sector is nuclear, removing human workers from activities which pose increased risk, for the purposes of routine monitoring through to complex decommissioning challenges. An integral part is the characterisation of radiation fields, not only for stakeholders to plan future activities, but for the longevity of the robot system itself. Many radiation monitoring instruments exist, each tailored to specific emitted radiation (alpha, beta, gamma, neutrons) with a wide range of capabilities, sensitivity and functionality. This variation poses a major hurdle as the community begins to integrate these instruments with robotic platforms. The Robot Operating System (ROS) has become the de facto standard solution for amalagating hardware and software on robotic platforms. ROS allows a robot and its instruments to be integrated effortlessly with higher level functionality such as obstacle avoidance. This is based on instruments of similar types (such as lidars) all sharing information in the same data structure, a so-called ROS message type. For radiation instruments there is no standard message type available. Already different research groups and industrial partners have begun to design their own message structures, with no way for these to work together. If these groups wish to integrate instruments, upgrade or interchange sensors whilst maintaining the same software capabilities, then a predefined, agreed upon set of message structures is required. The aim is to host a workshop with roboticists, radiation instrumentation manufacturers, and end-users to discover the various uses and types of radiation instruments available, deciding on simple yet robust set of message types for radiation relevant information in ROS. This will then be communicated to not only the UK-RAS network, but globally, with this standard being shared in an open source philosophy.
Collaborator Contribution UK-RAS members have raised concerns over a lack of ROS standardisation with respect to radiation detection sensors. In comparison, sophisticated sensors like lidar scanners and cameras, through to simple pressure, temperature and humidity sensors all have standard ROS messages, enabling researchers to easily integrate sensors from different manufacturers without any requirement to change their code base. During "hackathon" events, where academic researchers join together to tackle focussed challenges in only a day or so, it has become apparent where different research groups have deviated from each other in their approach to radiation sensing. UK-RAS members have found themselves "reinventing the wheel" with every implementation of new hardware, wasting time and effort. With stakeholders requesting the use of different sensors for various requirements, and researchers who are developing their own radiation sensors wanting to implement them in ROS, every new sensor ends up being implemented slightly differently. Ultimately, this slows development and stunts the possible benefits of remote inspection of nuclear environments, as well as the great benefits that result from fruitful collaboration. The adoption of a set of standard radiation messages will promote utilisation of ROS to accelerate development of new robotic systems. Researchers will be free to work on more fundamental challenges, delivering greater impact and strengthening the UK's position as a world-leader in robotics for extreme environments. Furthermore, the ongoing barriers which exist because of a lack of standardisation can be quickly dissolved, enabling more effective collaboration between UK-RAS members, no longer dedicating time and effort to bridge the gap between research groups. With radiation instrument manufacturers displaying greater interest in making instruments ROS compatible out of the box, now is a critical time for industry, academia and end-users to come together to understand the many facets of radiation detection, robotic inspection, and how that data is inevitably worthwhile. To understand how radiation data can be conveyed in a simple, yet practical and useful format, benefiting those involved. This approach to standardise the data received from similar devices can extend beyond just radiation instrumentation. Fields such as human-robot interaction and e-agriculture lack standardisation of data types in ROS, and researchers have once again expressed the associated difficulties and how it can impede progress in these areas. By demonstrating that creating a set of standardised messages can be done, cross-domain researchers may be inspired to collectively work together to bridge the gaps they face, and reap the rewards of collaborative work. In the philosophy of the Robot Operating System, these message structures will be shared, not just between UK institutions, but globally. The UK-RAS network can stand as an example of how UK research is progressive and forward thinking, offering standards and methods for everybody to freely adopt.
Impact This activity will see a workshop delivered, bringing together academia, industry, and end-users to discuss the various uses and requirements of radiation sensing. The major outcome of this will be a set of Robot Operating System (ROS) message types, explicitly designed for use with radiation sensing instruments. A subsequent meeting of a smaller technical group will meet to enact the findings of the workshop. In keeping with how ROS software is distributed, these message types will be made freely available through GitHub or a similar hosting solution, either through an existing repository of a UK-RAS member or a newly created solution for the benefit of the wider UK-RAS community. The task group lead partners will write and disseminate a brief report outlining their findings, but more importantly a guide on how others can follow a similar approach to decide on a standard for their research field. This will enable those from outside nuclear robotics to potentially benefit from this activity. It is expected that the UK-RAS network can begin to shape robotics research trends globally, and this activity can stand as an example of excellence in UK
Start Year 2020
 
Description Robotic Challenge 2020: Robots for resilient infrastructure 
Organisation University of Leeds
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution The Challenge is funded by the UK-RAS Network and Leeds University. A two day challenge event demonstrating cutting-edge robots and autonomous systems to create, inspect, repair and maintain our critical infrastructure. Alongside showcasing technical advances, the event will create a space to discuss the benefits and impacts of adopting such technology, and what we need to do to prepare for the future. The event will bring those with responsibility for infrastructure, contractors, policy makers and city builders together with researchers and innovators in this area, to create a broad vision of the challenges and opportunities for infrastructure robotics. Applications for such robots cover broad domains including civil infrastructure, transport (road, rail, sea), offshore energy, space, and nuclear. Self-Repairing Cities (https://selfrepairingcities.com/), a Grant Challenge project funded by EPSRC to develop robotic and autonomous systems solutions for infrastructure, is planning to hold a Robotic Challenge event on 23-24 June 2020 with the following aims: • Engage with industry to show the value of putting infrastructure robotics on their innovation road maps • To stimulate the research and innovation community to develop system-changing RAS for infrastructure • To demonstrate to funders and government the value of investing in infrastructure robotics; • To facilitate a wider discussion on the envisaged benefits of using RAS for infrastructure (economic, environmental, health & safety etc) and the expected scale • To engage with aligned areas of research & innovation to highlight synergies e.g. self-healing materials, robots for extreme environments The challenge event will invite RAS entries with the potential to address the infrastructure robotic challenges identified in the UK-RAS White paper on resilient infrastructure (pgs 11-12). Alongside showcasing technical advances, the event will create a space to discuss the benefits and impacts of adopting such technology, including two panel discussions on the potential for the technology to contribute to the cities of the future and UN Sustainable Development Goals respectively. We are requesting funding to extend the reach and size of this event with three aims: 1. To support participation by city makers (e.g. Councils), policy-focused representatives, and relevant NGO/non-for-profit companies in the infrastructure sector. These stakeholders are important voices in ensuring infrastructure-RAS aligns to the future needs of society. 2. To support participation by early career researchers as future leaders in infrastructure robotics 3. To provide additional venue capacity for industry and researchers to share state-of-the-art results/innovations through showcase and poster stands.
Collaborator Contribution Cash prizes totalling £5,500 are offered, kindly supported by sponsorship from Anglian Water and Synthotech. The challenge is supported by the Engineering and Physical Science Research Council (EPSRC) through the Grand Challenge of "Balancing the Impact of City Infrastructure Engineering on Natural Systems using Robots" (Self-Repairing Cities). It is organised in collaboration with the UK RAS Network and UK Robotics Week. The proposed activity aligns to the following aims of the UK-RAS Strategic Task Group call: • Devise strategic solutions via the organisation of a robotics challenge • Promote academia-industry liaison • Identify research gaps and challenges • Scoping to explore wider research collaboration The robotic challenge event will provide a rare space to bring together those with responsibility for infrastructure, contractors, policy makers and city builders together with researchers and innovators in this area, to create a far-reaching vision of the challenges and opportunities for infrastructure robotics. Applications for such robots cover broad domains including civil infrastructure, transport (road, rail, sea), offshore energy, space, and nuclear. By bringing together such a wide range of stakeholders, the event will facilitate the wider debate about how such technology will integrate into and contribute to our society. Such debate is needed at this early stage of the technology's development to ensure a strategic fit to future needs of end-users and The challenge event will also contribute towards academia-industry liaison by providing a space for researchers and industry to discuss their work via a mix of talks, showcase and poster displays, and dedicated networking time. It will provide a chance to examine what is already possible and being deployed by industry, what is happening at the cutting-edge of research, and what the future needs of end-users may be. From this, it should be possible to identify critical research gaps and challenges that need to be addressed in order for infrastructure RAS to become more widely adopted. As part of the event feedback, participants will be asked if they would be interested in being involved in future research collaborations in infrastructure-RAS. If there is sufficient interest, then Self-Repairing Cities will look to identify suitable routes to crystallise this interest into tangible collaboration building e.g. by linking those with similar interests, holding focused meetings to develop research ideas addressing a particular opportunity, or seeking further funding to support a wider workshop addressing a range of themes highlighted by the event.
Impact The activity will have the following deliverables and outcomes: • 20 free places (no registration fee) will be made available for public/third sector/not-for-profit organisations and early career researchers to attend the Robotic Challenge 2020: Robots for resilient infrastructure event on 23-24 June 2020. Each place equates to one person attending the full event for two days, but could also be used to support two people each attending only one day. The outcome will be measured in terms of number of delegates and diversity of roles/organisations/sectors supported by the additional funding. • An additional room at the venue will be provided to increase the number of research posters and showcase stands that can be accepted for the event. The outcome will be measured in terms of the number and diversity of research and industry posters and stands presented at the event. An estimation of numbers of delegates engaged with the posters and stands will be counted during the dedicated network sessions, and delegates will be asked for feedback on whether they found these sessions informative and useful for making contacts. • All delegates will be requested to give feedback on ideas they have taken away from the event, any actions they intend to take as a result, and any new contacts or collaborations coming from networking at conference. In addition, they will be asked if they would be interested being involved in future research collaborations in infrastructure-RAS and, if so, what aspect. • An event report will bring together the diverse themes and key messages delivered during the event, as synthesised from the talks, panel discussions, following Q&A, challenge entries, showcase and poster displays. Contributions to the discussion by participants supported by free registration and the additional venue capacity will be included along with this. Depending on the quality of the outcomes, this report will either be shared directly on the event webpage or will form the basis for more formal publications (academic or targeted to other stakeholder audiences).
Start Year 2020
 
Description Skills and Education in Robotics and Autonomous Systems 
Organisation University of Sheffield
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution The UK-RAS Network is funding the creation of Education, Training, Apprenticeships, STEM learning, Educational robotics, Lifelong learning, Gender and diversity, Industry 4.0, RAS deployment and integration. The biggest barrier to advancing the RAS sector of the UK economy and to boosting UK productivity more generally is skills and education. This UK-wide task group aims to directly address the skills gap in relation to RAS by: (i) Analysing and understand the requirements for UK RAS training and education. (ii) Surveying existing provision identifying gaps, opportunities, best practices. (iii) Engaging across the education sector, and with the public and employers, about the challenges and opportunities to improve the UK skills base in RAS. (iv) Scoping projects and developing new partnerships and collaborations that will create sustainable long-term interventions that can operate at scale, and across the lifespan, with due attention to diversity issues. (v) Inspiring and demystifying RAS technologies and encouraging people from diverse backgrounds to explore RAS careers. (vi) Influencing UK public policy on skills and education related to RAS. The academic/F.E partners in this proposal include a wide range of geographical centres, with representation from England, Scotland and Wales, and from multiple disciplines including experts in robotics, education and diversity. This consortium also includes expertise at all levels of education, including both academic and commercial experience of state-of-the-art student-centered learning methods for digital skills and robotics. Our proposal is also supported by key third-sector organisations, with an interest in supporting technology-related skills training, including leading national organisations in STEM education: the National STEM Centre, The Royal Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Coding. The task group will seek to leverage the resources provided by the UK-RAS network to create parallel and future projects exploring sources of further investment such as UKRI/University Knowledge Exchange funds, InnovateUK, the Department for Education, BEIS, Charities, and EU Horizon 2020
Collaborator Contribution The UK economy needs to improve productivity in order to remain internationally competitive. This can be achieved through increased automation and the deployment of next-generation RAS technologies. Such a transformation can only take place with a substantial increase in the number of employees with some educational background in RAS, who understand the capabilities of these systems, know how to deploy them, and how to integrate them alongside human workers. However, improving RAS skills and education faces significant major challenges, including: 1. A general shortage of workers with STEM skills. A 2016 review of future economic growth in the UK, by the The ScaleUp Institute, highlighted the "consistent, ongoing demand [of UK companies] for STEM skills across all parts of the country and most industry sectors". The report concluded that "access to people with the right skills was the biggest barrier preventing their growth". 2. A lack of understanding about the future of work. The pace of change unleashed by digitalisation means that around two/thirds of children in primary school today will work in jobs which do not exist yet, many of which will involve RAS technologies. 3. Limited provision of schools' education relevant to RAS careers. The Royal Society's 2017 report, "After the Reboot", concluded that "computing education across the UK is patchy and fragile", and that "a majority of teachers [are] teaching an unfamiliar school subject without adequate support". There is a need to rethink the curriculum, to educate the educators, and to provide better training in areas such as mechatronics alongside coding. 4. A lack of diversity and inclusion in STEM/RAS opportunities. The proportion of women in UK engineering is very low (8%) and compares unfavourably with other advanced economies. Evidence suggests that girls are put off STEM careers from an early age but that interventions throughout the school years can make a difference, and that robotics can help to get children interested in engineering. Other diversity challenges also need to be addressed. 5. A critical need for reskilling across the lifespan. 2/3rds of the workforce that is required for 2030 has already left full-time education. This points to a critical role for in-work training and lifelong learning in addressing the skills challenge. These are difficult and large-scale challenges that will only be addressed by concerted action across the UK education sector with support from government, public, and commercial stakeholders. UK universities have a critical role to play, and the UK-RAS Network, as the UK's leading body for researchers in RAS, can act as a significant catalyst for positive change. The task group would work to better understand the challenges, and then to co-ordinate a sustainable program of curriculum development and skills training. Such a programme, for which future partnerships will be sought, would seek to resolve the RAS skills deficit through diverse pathways including new teaching resources and methodologies, improved professional training for educators, stronger ties between educators and employers, encouraging robotic "maker" activities, and public engagement activities that promote RAS careers.
Impact The task group will deliver: 1. A White Paper on closing the skills gap in RAS. This paper will cover (i) the challenges in relation to UK productivity, RAS skills shortages, and the future of work; (ii) the state of RAS education in the UK, including its relationship to STEM learning at primary, secondary and tertiary levels; (iii) a review of practices in RAS education, including strategies for scaling; (iv) inclusion, gender and diversity issues; and (v) a roadmap for transforming the education and skills landscape in both the near and long-term. 2. A programme of hackathon and engagement activities around improving skills and diversity in RAS and generating educational resources. The programme will include activities in UK Robotics week. 3. A series of sustainability workshops involving task group members, third sector organisations, technology and HR companies, and education providers to develop strategic partnerships and co-create funding bids. 4. A multi-media campaign to promote the findings of the task group and white paper to policy makers, educational institutions and other key stakeholders. 5. A national conference on skills and education in RAS.
Start Year 2020
 
Description Soft Robotics Task Group 
Organisation University of Bristol
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution This UK-RAS Strategic Task Group is a collective effort to help to focus work in different institutes in the UK into one collaborative approach to spearhead a rapid growth in soft robotics. The planned events will establish a network of researchers, representatives from industry, policy makers and stake holders far beyond academics currently working in the field. This will exponentially increase the number of potential collaborations, especially, with multidisciplinary approaches. Academic and industry collaboration will accelerate the development and adoption of soft robotics in the "real world". Soft robotics, being a young field, is for the moment still confined primarily to research labs. Establishing an industry advisory board and organising the industry outreach event align with the UK RAS networks objectives about industrial-translation of UK Robotics research. The UK-RAS conference 2020 is focused on "robotics in the real world". Soft robotics provides a new approach for previously unsolvable or hard to solve real-world challenges. This includes applications in, for example, medical application, manipulation of food/produces (agrifood robotics), nuclear environment (inspection), safe human-robot interaction, etc. Thanks to high adaptation capabilities, embodied intelligence, softness compliance, soft robotics system can be inherently safe, they are typically very low-cost, and are potentially more energy efficient.
Collaborator Contribution EPSRC CDTs can benefit from collaborations with academics from other fields and Industries arising from activities of this STG by proposing mini-projects and organizing seminars which can inspire future researchers in the field, i.e., AIMS CDT (Oxford), AGRI-FOOD CDT (Cambridge), FARSCOPE CDT (Bristol), Advanced Composites Centre for Innovation and Science ACCIS CDT (Bristol), Technology Enhanced Chemical Synthesis TECS CDT (Bristol). All the planned activities will help to establish a clear roadmap for the field informed by industrial and societal needs. This will provide the first crucial step towards a strong national framework for this very fast-growing research field. Moreover, all the activities will ultimately guarantee that the UK will further strengthen its role as a global leader in soft robotics providing the ground for future impacts in the form of patents, jobs, start-up companies and even new branches of industries. Additional Academic Partner: - Jonathan Rossiter (University of Bristol) - Adam Stokes (The University of Edinburgh) - Perla Maiolino (University of Oxford) - Kaspar Althoefer (Queen Mary University of London) - Andrew Conn (University of Bristol) - Hermes Gadelha (University of Bristol) - James Herbert-Read (University of Cambridge, Zoology) - Fritz Vollrath (University of Oxford, Zoology) - Mirko Kovac (Imperial London) - Dana Damian (University of Sheffield) - Shuhei Miyashita (University of Sheffield) - Sina Sareh (Royal Society of Art) - Helge Wurdemann (University College London) Industrial Partners and Research Centres: - OCADO (www.ocado.com ) - BT (www.bt.com ) - RACE (www.race.ukaea.uk) - Foster and Partner (https://www.fosterandpartners.com/) - TubeTech (https://www.tubetech.com) - AMRC - Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (University of Sheffield) (www.amrc.co.uk) - Technology Innovation Transforming Child Health (https://www.titch.org.uk/) - NIHR Children & Young People MedTech Co-operative (https://cypmedtech.nihr.ac.uk/) - Shadow Robot Company (https://www.shadowrobot.com) - Save the Elephants (https://www.savetheelephants.org/)
Impact This Strategic Task Group has the following deliverables all in support of our three main foci, i.e., (i) To establish a stronger link to industry, (ii) to identify challenges, establish benchmark tests, and a recurrent competition, and (iii) to engage a wider group of academics. The work will be shared among the partners and led by University of Bristol, Imperial London, and University of Cambridge. (1) A kick-off meeting will start off the activities of this Strategic Task Group and will help to coordinate activities in the most efficient way. Led by University of Bristol. - Organise kick-off meeting (2) We will establish a website to serve as central hub for Soft Robotics in the UK (www.softrobotics.uk) and a corresponding logo to make it a recognizable brand. The website will provide press material, information of involved research groups, information about benchmark and competition and it will serve as communication for the activities of this Strategic Task Group and beyond. This will be led by University of Bristol. - Set up central online hub in the form of a webpage - Logo to establish a recognizable brand (3) We organise a workshop with industrial participants with the goal to establish an industry advisory board, identify industrial challenges, and a roadmap for the next decade. This is led by Imperial College London. - Organising an industry outreach workshop to form an industry advisory board - A roadmap for UK soft robotics in the next decade to maximise academic and industry impact - A set of key scientific challenges identified as "grand soft robotic challenges" for large scale national funding to accelerate UK soft robotics research (4) We will organise a workshop with the goal to define grand soft robotic challenges and to develop a corresponding soft robotics challenge. We will invite participants from academia, industry, policymakers and other stakeholders. A set of benchmark tests agreed upon by a majority of international leaders in Soft Robotics. This is led by Cambridge. - Organise Grand Challenge Workshop - Develop, organise and run the first UK Soft Robotics competition at CDT Conference (Sep 2020 in Oxford) - Definition of benchmark tests for soft robotics - White paper on grand challenge for soft robotics (5) We will organise two individual one-day academic outreach workshops where we invite researchers outside of robotics to contribute to the soft robotics community. The first workshop will focus on research fields that can provide important novel technologies and techniques, including, Chemistry, Applied Mathematics, Physics, Material Science, Biology, Synthetic Biology, Control Theory, Computer Science, etc. The second workshop will focus on the impact side of soft technology inviting academics and policy makers in Healthcare, Ethics, Philosophy, Law, Social Science, Art, Education, Architecture, etc. Both will be organised by University of Bristol. - Two academic outreach workshops for academics aim at non-roboticists - Establishing a network of interested partners through our website (6) In a final meeting with all core partners we will identify next steps that can leverage the work carried out in this task group. This includes identifying future funding possibilities (e.g., EPSRC Network Grant), possible extensions to the network, and establishing recurrent meetings of industry advisory board and the soft robotics competition. Organiser will be University of Bristol.
Start Year 2020
 
Description Surgical Robotics 
Organisation University of Leeds
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution The UK-RAS network is funding the Surgical Robotics Task Group. The activity's main aim is to refresh the UK-RAS White Paper on Surgical Robotics (https://www.ukras.org/publications/white-papers/) edited in 2016 (i.e. the oldest among all UK-RAS White Papers) by Guang-Zhong Yang, Christos Bergeles and Valentina Vitiello. We plan to reach this goal by the end of 2020. The resulting white paper will be widely advertised in the UK, aiming to become the reference literature for the state of research in the country and the most impactful research activities that our community (and UK funders) should focus on exploring. During the year, we plan to organise two workshops to bring together the Surgical Robotics community and lay out the content of the white paper. The first workshop will be organised in London at the end of June 2020, in conjunction with the Hamlyn Symposium on Medical Robotics and will be open to the worldwide community of Surgical Robotics attending the Symposium. The second workshop will take place at the University of Leeds in September 2020 and will be open to all members of the UK-RAS Network. For both workshops, we plan to invite a strong cohort of surgeons by involving the Royal College of Surgeons, the European Association of Endoscopic Surgeons, the NIHR Surgical Med-Tech Cooperative, and the International Society for Minimally Invasive Therapy. Finally, in collaboration with the IET, we plan to organise a campaign to advertise the white paper and the outputs of the workshops, including reaching out to policy makers. This campaign will include a video documentary on surgical robotics in the UK, featuring different research sites and covering the labs alongside with interviews, which will be linked to UK Robotics Week 2021.
Collaborator Contribution • Danail Stoyanov, Helge Wurdemann, Agostino Stilli, University College London • Kaspar Althoefer, Queen Mary University of London • Sanja Dogramadzi, University of the West England • Dana Damian, Shuhei Miyashita, University of Sheffield • Mohsen Khadem, University of Edinburgh • Hongbin Liu, King's College London • Evangelos Mazomenos, Peter Culmer, University of Leeds Will contribute to the white paper.
Impact - Workshop in London - June 2020 - Workshop in Leeds - September 2020 - White paper on Surgical Robotics - Early November 2020 - Campaign to advertise the White Paper - November to December 2020 - Update of the White Paper with input from industrial members of IET - December 2020 - Video documentary on Surgical Robotics in the UK - September to December 2020
Start Year 2020
 
Description UK-RAS Manufacturing Robotics Challenge 2020 
Organisation University of Sheffield
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution The event will be primarily aimed at students and researchers within and without the UK-RAS network, and we expect participation from at least three member institutions. We are keen to discuss the organisation of the challenge with partners in the network, but in the interests of time and reducing complexity it is expected the organisation (as in previous years) will be conducted wholly by the University of Sheffield. We are engaging our industrial partners to support this event to set challenges, loan equipment, and provide expertise and sponsorship.
Collaborator Contribution The Manufacturing Robotics Challenge 2020 will be a 2-day hackathon-style event for students, early career researchers and industrial engineers. The event will be held in Sheffield at the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre's Factory 2050 in June as part of UK Robotics Week. Funding has been recievd form the UK-RAS Network that will go towards the following activities: A two-day manufacturing robotics challenge for up to 40 participants A one-day training workshop on the Robot Operating System A promotional film on the event for use in UK-RAS promotional materials Engagement with students and researchers beyond the UK-RAS network Increased visibility of the UK-RAS network and for robotics research within industry
Impact A two-day manufacturing robotics challenge for up to 40 participants A one-day training workshop on the Robot Operating System A promotional film on the event for use in UK-RAS promotional materials Engagement with students and researchers beyond the UK-RAS network Increased visibility of the UK-RAS network and for robotics research within industry
Start Year 2020
 
Description UK-RAS Strategic Task group in Agri-Robotics (STAR) 
Organisation University of Lincoln
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution The UK-RAS Network has funded the UK-RAS Strategic Task group in Agri-Robotics (STAR). Its primary aim is to bring together robotics, autonomous systems and AI research focused on agri-food production as an application domain through a suite of activities designed to broaden the research community, expand education and engage industry and the general public.
Collaborator Contribution The proposed STAR activities are of crucial importance for the UK industrial strategy around "farm to fork" technologies, where the UK-RAS network should be nationally recognised as a leading player in providing innovation and technical excellence for this key sector. However, the two initiatives are currently disconnected and a key overarching aim of STAR is to raise the profile of UK-RAS, particularly within industry, government and the general public, and highlight the tremendous potential for significant contribution from robotics, autonomous systems and artificial intelligence to the agri-food pipeline. Opportunities include: development of field robots that can assist workers by carrying payloads and can perform agricultural operations such as crop and animal sensing, weeding and drilling; integration of autonomous systems technologies with existing operational farm equipment such as tractors; application of intelligent robots to harvest crops and perform complex dextrous functions; deployment of collaborative, "human-in-the-loop" robotic applications to augment worker efficiency; and exploration of advanced robotic technologies, such as soft-body platforms, to drive productivity beyond the farm gate into the factory and retail environments. Specific technical challenges include: sensing and perception methods that accurately identify objects in noisy environments; localisation and navigation methods that operate robustly in the wild; digital communications facilities that exhibit low latency and reliable coverage; grasping and manipulation techniques that support flexible movement; and multi-robot systems that interact safely with people in the workplace. The eight activities (A*) outlined above are designed to reach multiple audiences: national and international research communities in robotics, autonomous systems and artificial intelligence; national and international agri-food industries; government policymakers and regulators; and the general public, including current members of the workforce interested in re-training to enter the agri-food sector or enhance their technological skill set and future members of the workforce currently enrolled in secondary, higher and/or further education. Each activity will produce deliverables (D*), listed below, to be produced by STAR team members working collaboratively to share, advance and disseminate knowledge and innovation. Managing engagement from such a broad and busy set of members will be challenging, so the STAR leadership will incorporate creative methods for facilitating remote and/or asynchronous participation to optimise input from the collective. Careful planning will ensure that the team capitalises on efforts for maximum impact. For example, deliverable D7 (below) will produce "agri-robotics-in-a-box", a pack of information especially designed for particular audiences such as industry representatives, government policymakers, school educators, students or members of the workforce. The contents will explain the fundamentals of the agri-food pipeline, describe essential tasks that could be enhanced by intelligent robotics and autonomous systems, motivate dialogue with stakeholders and end users around the potential risks and benefits of agri-robotics and outline opportunities for lifelong learning. Videos of demonstrations will accompany print and online materials to further enhance discussion and dissemination, as well as motivate interest from wider audiences. This pack will be created by the team and distributed for use by each partner institution at their own public engagement events, such as UK-RAS Robotics Week.
Impact STAR team members will collaborate to develop seven primary deliverables (D*): (D1) Challenge activity for an agri-robotics competition (activity A1, objectives O1 & O2) -- A challenge will be designed by team members and addressed in a hackathon targeted to undergraduate and postgraduate students during the funding period of the project. For example, participants might be given a simple robot kit with a camera and told to implement a robot that can distinguish between different plants in small pots and sort them so that similar plants are grouped together. The budget includes funding to support the event, such as venue hire, catering and limited travel support for students. (D2) Annotated data sets to help form a national repository (activity A2, objective O1) -- A substantial number of tasks within the agri-food pipeline require visual identification of features of plants or other objects. Data mining and machine learning techniques, such as classification, are being applied with increasing frequency -- but these need labelled data sets in order to learn models. A repository will be designed and hosted within the STAR team, to provide access to open data sets within the agri-food sector that have been labelled. An example is the Kaggle repository (https://www.kaggle.com/) which contains a large number of curated data sets often used for competitions and student projects; but Kaggle has a very broad focus and the STAR repository will concentrate on data sets pertinent to agriculture and food production tasks. (D3) A UKRI proposal that outlines experiment requirements and STAR team members will collaborate to develop seven primary deliverables (D*): (D1) Challenge activity for an agri-robotics competition (activity A1, objectives O1 & O2) -- A challenge will be designed by team members and addressed in a hackathon targeted to undergraduate and postgraduate students during the funding period of the project. For example, participants might be given a simple robot kit with a camera and told to implement a robot that can distinguish between different plants in small pots and sort them so that similar plants are grouped together. The budget includes funding to support the event, such as venue hire, catering and limited travel support for students. (D2) Annotated data sets to help form a national repository (activity A2, objective O1) -- A substantial number of tasks within the agri-food pipeline require visual identification of features of plants or other objects. Data mining and machine learning techniques, such as classification, are being applied with increasing frequency -- but these need labelled data sets in order to learn models. A repository will be designed and hosted within the STAR team, to provide access to open data sets within the agri-food sector that have been labelled. An example is the Kaggle repository (https://www.kaggle.com/) which contains a large number of curated data sets often used for competitions and student projects; but Kaggle has a very broad focus and the STAR repository will concentrate on data sets pertinent to agriculture and food production tasks. (D3) A UKRI proposal that outlines experiment requirements and specifications for designing a national test facility (activity A3, objective O2) -- While some universities have access to farms, fields and/or food manufacturing sites for testing, many do not. The STAR team will design a test facility that could be shared nationally and develop a proposal to submit to UKRI seeking funding to construct the facility. Two workshops will be held during the one-year funding period to develop the proposal, which will be submitted by the end of the year. (D4) Curriculum and modules for the lifelong learning collaborative (activity A4, objective O5) -- Labour shortage for the agri-food production pipeline is a growing national problem. The STAR consortium will gather curriculum for a lifelong learning space targeted to the current workforce, for re-training new entries into the agri-food sector as well as up-skilling existing sector contributors. A follow-on proposal may be developed to establish an on-line learning facility for hosting this space and construct self-guided tutorials for learners. (D5) Lectures and practical exercises for secondary, further and higher education students (activity A5, objectives O4 & 05) -- The labour shortage will remain an ongoing problem unless our secondary and tertiary schools encourage students to pursue education in subjects relevant for agri-food sector careers. The materials developed for lifelong learners will be re-purposed for younger learners and tested in a summer school, funded by this proposal. (D6) Presentations and papers for the STAR academic symposia (activity A6, objective O1) -- The desire to broaden the academic robotics community engaging in agri-food applications motivates the need for wider dissemination of rigorous research results within this domain. Two special workshops will be organised by STAR members in order to spread the message within the academic community: As part one at the UK-RAS annual conference and one at the TAROS conference. (D7) Materials and demonstrations for the STAR public engagement events (activity A7, objectives O1 & O2) -- The "agri-robotics-in-a-box" described above will be authored for specific audiences (industry representatives, government policymakers, school educators, students or members of the workforce) and will contain printed materials, on-line information disseminated via a project web site and videos of demonstrations of key agri-robotics research results.
Start Year 2020
 
Description Hamlyn Centre Away Day 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Study participants or study members
Results and Impact The Hamlyn Centre Induction Day was an event for creating better connectivity within the Hamlyn team of over 80 researchers. With talks, networking activities and discussions, this event enabled MRes students, PhD students, researchers and support staff to engage and share ideas for development of Hamlyn initiatives.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Hamlyn Centre Official Twitter 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact The Hamlyn Centre Official Twitter account aims to reach out all types of audiences for demonstrating our research progress and result, promoting our events and sharing relevant information.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013,2014,2015,2016,2017,2018,2019,2020
URL https://twitter.com/ICLHamlynRobots
 
Description International Robotics Showcase 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact A showcase of robotics for academia, industry and the public The International Robotics Showcase will be part of the International Business Festival this year, and this will be held on Thursday 27th June 2019 at the Royal Geographical Society. The full-day programme includes exclusive talks by world-renowned experts in science and technology, panel discussions, exhibitions, robot demonstrations and an award ceremony for competition winners demonstrating cutting-edge robotics innovation. Exciting demonstrations of cutting-edge robotics technology; Lively discussion and debate, covering ethical, legal and economic impacts of Robotics and AI; The release of several new White Papers, covering the current research landscape in: Ethical Issues for Robotics and Autonomous Systems. The day also offers academics, industry, government organisations and the public, the opportunity to enjoy the fascinating and diverse exhibits by our sponsors, as well as provide a lively forum for discussion and discovery of some of the latest technological developments and research challenges in Robotics and Autonomous Systems.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://www.ukras.org/robotics-week/showcase-event/
 
Description Official UK-RAS Twitter 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact The UK-RAS Official Twitter account aims to reach out all types of audiences for demonstrating our research progress and result, promoting our events and sharing relevant information.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019,2020
URL https://twitter.com/UKRobotics
 
Description Participation in Hamlyn Winter School on Surgical Imaging and Vision 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact The Winter School focuses on both technical and clinical aspects of Surgical Imaging and Vision, with invited lectures, hands-on demonstrations, workshops, and mini-projects.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL http://hamlyn.doc.ic.ac.uk/winterschool/
 
Description Participation in the School Robot Challenge 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact The School Robot Competition is a national competition and a joint project of the UK-RAS Network and Twinkl. This exciting competition is open to all UK schoolchildren aged from 8 - 14 years.
Twinkl are a thriving educational publisher with the largest collection of high quality digital teaching materials in the world. They are proud to create educational resources that can be used at each step of a child's learning journey. Their teacher-created resources provide entire schemes of work, lesson planning and assessments right through to online educational games, augmented reality and so much more. They have over 525,000 resources and new content gets added every day.
All Twinkl resources are teacher-made and can be used by anyone, anywhere - making learning accessible to all.
Twinkl also have a fantastic selection of Augmented Reality (AR) games, including an unveiling of a brand new game called ARchitect. In this open ended game, children are given the task of building a tower or a building from scratch using a choice of different materials. Using real-world physics, blocks of ice will slide around on top of each other, others will have more friction while some may be too heavy for the material beneath it. All taking place in front of your eyes!

ARchitect challenges children to think carefully about materials, elements and how they interact. Incorporating science and mathematic skills to engage high achieving and lower ability children through highly interactive elements and an easy pick-up-and-play style. It's a ground-breaking game.literally!

School Robot Competition
Applying this methodology, they created a new AR game for exclusively for our School Robot Competition in 2019. The competition launched on 27th March 2019 and ended on 9th June 2019.

We are pleased to announce that the School Robot Competition will be returning in 2020! Sign up to our newsletter for the latest announcements.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://www.ukras.org/school-robot-competition/
 
Description School Robot Challenge at Imperial Festival 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact An interactive activity was provided at the Imperial Festival 2017, based on the School Robot Challenge organised by the Hamlyn Centre and the UK-RAS Network. This activity encouraged schoolchildren to be inspired by robotics and nature and create their own digital robotic insect. The children drew a robotic insect on paper and were then shown how to turn it into a 3D computer model.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Surgical Robot Challenge 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact The aim of this challenge is to exploit the unique expertise of the consortium in medical robotics to develop low-cost robot-assisted surgical and diagnostic devices that can benefit the NHS as well as be used as solutions for global health.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://www.ukras.org/robotics-week/challenges/surgical-robot-challenge/
 
Description TAROS 2019 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact TAROS is the longest running UK-hosted international conference on Robotics and Autonomous Systems (RAS), which is aimed at the presentation and discussion of the latest results and methods in autonomous robotics research and applications.

TAROS offers a friendly environment for robotics researchers and industry to take stock and plan future progress. It welcomes senior researchers and research students alike, and specifically provides opportunities for research students and young research scientists to present their work to the scientific community. TAROS 2019 was hosted by Queen mary University
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://www.qmul.ac.uk/robotics/events/taros2019/
 
Description The Hamlyn Centre Christmas Showcase 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Supporters
Results and Impact The Hamlyn Christmas Showcase is an event that showcased the latest research outputs form our research teams at the Hamlyn Centre. Every year we invite our collaborators and affiliates to participate this event in order to demonstrate our research findings and to discuss potential further collaboration.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://twitter.com/ICLHamlynRobots/status/1073577685488754688
 
Description The Hamlyn Centre Official Website 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact The Hamlyn Centre Official website aims to engage with all types of audiences for introducing our centre purpose and structure as well as our research areas and environment. On the website, we also constantly update job opportunities, event information and News from our research teams as well as the Imperial College.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://www.imperial.ac.uk/hamlyn-centre/
 
Description The Hamlyn Symposium 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact The Hamlyn Symposium on Medical Robotics (HSMR) provides an annual forum for surgeons and engineers from across the globe, to network and explore the latest developments in medical robotics. The Symposium has been successfully conducted for the past 11 years and has become a leading international conference on medical robotics, current clinical practice and emerging technologies in robotic surgery. Every year researchers, clinicians and engineers are invited to submit papers on a range of topics covering clinical specialities in Urology, Cardiac Surgery, Neuro Surgery, Thoracic Surgery, General Surgery, Gynaecology, ENT, Orthopaedic and Paediatric Surgery. The Hamlyn Symposium is composed of a series of workshops on various clinical and technical topics and the main conference with the participants from leading medical, science and technology institutions.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://www.imperial.ac.uk/hamlyn-centre/hamlyn-symposium/
 
Description The School Robot Competition Official Website 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact The School Robot Competition Official website aims to engage with all primary schoolchildren and schools across the UK and inpartnership with Twinkl - a thriving educational publisher with the largest collection of high quality digital teaching materials in the world. They are proud to create educational resources that can be used at each step of a child's learning journey. Their teacher-created resources provide entire schemes of work, lesson planning and assessments right through to online educational games, augmented reality and so much more. They have over 525,000 resources and new content gets added every day. The School Robot Competition is an augmented reality app in which schoolchildren download and use to build a robot to navigate various terrains. The competition is judged ont he basis of design, creativity and progress within the scope and levels of the game.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015,2017,2018,2019,2020
URL https://www.ukras.org/school-robot-competition/
 
Description The UK Robotics Week Official Website 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact The UK Robotics Week Official website aims to engage with all types of audiences for introducing our central event - the International Robotics Showcase, as well as other public engagement activities such as the Exhibition Road festival, Surgical Robot Challenge, Autonomous Driving Challenge, Field Robotics Challenge, Manufacturing Robot challenge, Extreme Environment Challenge and Robotics in Social Care challenge, as well as film premieres. On the website, we also constantly update new publications, activities, events, competitions and news from our partners and beyond.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015,2016,2017,2018,2019,2020
URL https://www.ukras.org/robotics-week
 
Description The UK-RAS Network Official Website 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact The UK-RAS Network Official website aims to engage with all types of audiences for introducing our centre purpose and structure as well as our research areas and environment. On the website, we also constantly update job opportunities, international robotics events, challenges, competitions, and other event information and News from our research teams as well as the Imperial College.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015,2016,2017,2018,2019,2020
URL https://www.ukras.org/
 
Description UK-RAS Conference for PhD and Early-Career Researchers 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact The aim of the UKRAS19 is to promote quality research, networking and community building for PhD students and practitioners in the frontier of science and technology in intelligent robots and systems, by discussing the latest advancements in this fast growing and exciting field.

In 2019 the conference's focus was on Embedded Intelligence (EI) which is defined as the ability of a product, process or service to reflect on its own operational performance, usage load, or environment, to enhance the product performance and lifetime, to increase quality or to ensure customer satisfaction. This strategy, when applied to Robotics and Autonomous Systems, opens new avenues for the creation of knowledge and the acceleration of impacts across many sectors and industries.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://www.ukras.org/
 
Description UKRAS20 Conference 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact The conference is specifically for PhD students & early-career robotics researchers of the UK-RAS Network and will foster progress in the field of robotics research at what promises to be a very comprehensive and exciting meeting.

The conference will be held at the University of Lincoln on the 17th April 2020.

This year's theme covers 'Robots into the Real World', exploring how robotics can make a positive difference to societal challenges, from fundamental enabling technologies to real-world applications, such as working in challenging and extreme environments; enabling healthy / independent living; ensuring safe, efficient transport; developing next-generation manufacturing; feeding a growing population and ensuring a safe environment for the future.

The aim of the #UKRAS20 conference is to promote quality research, networking, and community building for PhD students and practitioners at the frontier of science and technology in intelligent robots and systems, by discussing the latest advancements in this fast growing and exciting field.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
URL https://www.ukras.org/news-and-events/uk-ras/about