Members of the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Select Committee visited Bristol Robotics Laboratory (BRL) to discuss future opportunities in the UK’s robotics industry.
Four Members of Parliament from the committee toured facilities at the laboratory on UWE Bristol’s Frenchay campus yesterday and met BRL’s Director, Professor Chris Melhuish.
The MPs, led by Chair Rachel Reeves, viewed the laboratory’s Assisted Living Studio, Driverless Car Workshop and Simulation Suite, Bioenergy Centre, Soft Robotics Lab, Flying Arena, Robotics Innovation Facility and Hardware Incubator.
They were also introduced to UWE Bristol’s University Enterprise Zone, which alongside BRL promotes collaboration with industry. It has incubators and grow on space for high tech, high growth companies specialising in robotics and autonomous systems, health technologies and bioscience.
A round table discussion was later held where committee members and roboticists, along with members of the West of England Combined Authority, explored possible future opportunities within the robotics sector, the public perception of robotics, and how the Government engages with and supports the industry. In particular, there was discussion of BRL’s experience of enabling dynamic start-ups through its hardware incubator, and developing enterprising communities and clusters.
David Lennard, Head of Business and Operations at Bristol Robotics Laboratory, said: “It was a great privilege to host members of the select committee at our laboratory, one of the largest robotics facilities of its type in Europe, and offer our perspective on the opportunities and challenges facing this new and emerging sector. We hope our guests found the visit insightful and useful for shaping their approach to robotics, automation and technology in future.”