£84m funding for UK AI and robotics research announced

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Artificial Intelligence

More than £68 million of investment from the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund for robotics and artificial intelligence projects aimed at improving safety in extreme environments has been announced.

This investment will develop robots and artificial intelligence able to take on jobs in the freezing depths of the North Sea, dealing with extreme environments in the process of nuclear energy production, the hostile vacuum of space, and heat of deep mining.

UK businesses are working with academia and the government in order to encourage investment in robotics and artificial intelligence.

Almost £45 million of the government’s funds will be used to set up four new research hubs based at the University of Manchester, University of Birmingham, University of Surrey and Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh.

The centres of excellence, managed by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), will be responsible for developing robotic technology to enable safer working environments.

As well as receiving government investment, the four hubs will be supported by £52 million of industry support from commercial and international partners, Innovate UK and UK Space Agency is co-funding the University of Surrey hub.

Ruth McKernan, Chief Executive of Innovate UK, said: “These pioneering projects driven by the very best minds in UK research and industry exemplify the huge potential of what can be achieved through the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund and the long-term benefits for the UK economy.

“These are just the first competitions in robotics and AI, there will be further opportunities for businesses in the coming months.”

Today’s announcements follow the publication of the industry-led Made Smarter review, which predicted Britain’s manufacturing sector could unlock more than £450 billion over the next decade and create thousands of jobs if it successfully embraced digitisation, robotics and artificial intelligence.

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