Experts are calling for focused funding to support the increased adoption of robotics and automation across key sectors, predicting that it will result in hugely positive outcomes.
Kaspar Althoefer, professor of robotics engineering, head of the Centre for Advanced Robotics at Queen Mary (ARQ), Queen Mary University of London, said: “We are in the midst of a ‘fourth industrial revolution’, and the UK has never been in a better position to capitalise on the opportunities in and around robotics and automation.
“With focused support from the scientific community, corporates, and a government that has already declared its ambitions for the UK to become a world-leading ‘science superpower’, this sector has the potential to compete at the very highest global level.
“With the requisite investment, the UK could accelerate adoption and innovation in robotics and automation, resulting in hugely positive outcomes across numerous sectors – from healthcare and transport to agriculture and manufacturing. In turn, the economic benefits to the UK could be game-changing.”
According to Althoefer, robotics and automation have come a long way since the the 1980s, when robots were predominantly used in manufacturing processes.
“Now we find them in operating theatres, farms, construction sites, and, of course, on Mars. The prevalence of collaborative robots (cobots) in all these areas is a testament to progress thus far and an indicator of progress to come.”
Although in its infancy, cobotics is a growth industry – globally, in 2021, about 7.5% (39,000 out of more than 478,000) of industrial robots installed were cobots, an increase of 50% over 2020.
Helge Wurdemann, professor and chair of robotics at University College London), added: “Our vision is to demonstrate how robotics and automation can contribute positively to society and work alongside us for the benefit of humankind, driving advancements across all sectors.
“Robots should be viewed as enablers – productivity creators and job makers. We need to invest in both skills and technology to embrace the future – which is happening now.”
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