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Robotics and AI: projects to create safer work for people

The £68 million Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund investment will develop new solutions for extreme working environments.

UK businesses and researchers will share £68 million with the aim of supporting safer working practices for people in extreme environments that could prevent potential harm and increase productivity.

The projects will each support the research and development of robotics and artificial intelligence (AI) technologies for use in industries such as offshore and nuclear energy, space and deep mining.

Minister of State for Climate Change and Industry, Claire Perry, announced the funding yesterday at Innovate 2017. It is part the government’s £93 million programme for robotics and AI in extreme environments, which is being funded through the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund.

Find out more about the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund.

Across research and innovation

Investing in business

Innovate UK is giving funding to a range of projects for robotics and AI systems development. £16.5 million will be shared between 70 businesses, 13 universities and 10 research organisations for collaborative research and development projects. A further £3 million will go to 17 demonstrator feasibility studies.

Some of the projects include:

  • using autonomous submarines to determine the ice risk hazards for shipping or the installation of energy assets in the Arctic. Project lead, Thurn Group will use autonomous vessels to survey ice retreat to better understand the threats of the surviving ice, to plot when it’s safe for people to use shipping routes or install or make changes to infrastructure
  • integrating autonomous drones to inspect offshore-wind farms. Currently, a boat with crew has to go out to each turbine to carry out inspection and assess blade faults. A system that automatically deploys and recovers drones for monitoring would remove the need to send people into potentially dangerous seas or oceans while reducing costs and time. Perceptual Robotics are the lead
  • manufacturing in space, such as the potential for in-orbit manufacture. This could be used for small replacement parts and tools, and possibly even large structures and spacecraft. BAE Systems are the lead

Click here for full press release


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