UK to hold inaugural Robotics Week in 2016

The first ever UK Robotics Week is set to take place from 25 June to 1 July 2016, with the aim of highlighting UK robotics innovation and engaging young people through a series of competitions.

It is estimated that the global market for service and industrial robots will reach $59.5bn by 2020. Robotics is one of the eight great technologies identified as key to future UK growth, and the event is being backed by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), the Royal Academy of Engineering, IET, and the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.

Robotic arm

“From driverless cars to tiny surgical robots, there is an array of exciting possibilities in robotics that can improve our lives,” said Universities and Science Minister Jo Johnson.

“It’s critical that we inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers to help develop these new technologies. I strongly encourage schools across the country to get involved in this robot design challenge as part of the first ever UK Robotics Week.”

One of the flagship events will be The School Robot Challenge, where children aged 4-17 will be invited to submit essays and artwork based on bioinspired robots. Students will also have the chance to design and build their own robot bugs, and will have access to design repositories as well as optional 3D-printing and robotics kits.

Elsewhere, UK Robotics Week will act as a showcase for the finals of several international academic challenges looking at surgical robots, field robotics, autonomous driving and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). It is hoped the week, which is expected to become an annual fixture, will play a key role in promoting STEM subjects and helping to bridge the skills gap. 

“The UK needs to recruit over a million engineers over the next decade to deliver the technology solutions that will drive economic growth and transform our quality of life,” said Professor Dame Ann Dowling, president of the Royal Academy of Engineering.

“The launch of an annual UK Robotics Week is an exciting way of broadening public engagement in the beneficial impact of robotics for the future of the UK.”