UK needs to raise its profile in the robotics market, says government

Robotics and autonomous systems could boost UK manufacturing industry and deliver local and national growth, government says, as it pledges to make more of existing investments in the technology.

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The government is dedicated to accelerating UK-made driverless cars, surgical robots and autonomous systems to help drive local and national growth; but it needs to make the most of existing investments in the technology.

It today said it recognises the need to build on existing investment to raise the profile of the UK in the robotics field and compete with international counterparts. 

Business secretary Vince Cable said: “From driverless cars to life-saving surgery, robotics and autonomous systems are playing an even bigger role in business and our day to day lives. Our response is clear – we are serious about grasping the full potential of this multi-billion pound industry to help drive local and national growth and are putting in place the mechanisms to make this happen.”

Robotics and anonymous systems have the potential to increase manufacturing capability in the UK by as much as a fifth, and could support the creation of a highly skilled workforce, a government report found.

These technologies are estimated to have a global economic impact of an estimated $1.9 to $6.4 trillion by 2025.

Cable did not announce any new funding for robotics specifically, however the UK’s main agency for funding research in engineering spends around £800 million a year in research and postgraduate training.

In the chancellor’s budget last week, £100 million was pledged for research and development of driverless cars in the UK.

However, Chi Onwurah, shadow cabinet office minister for digital government, offered a cynical slant on the funding announcements, telling ComputerworldUK: “It’s good to see the chancellor belatedly recognising the importance of the Internet of Things but his ad-hoc (and Tory marginal driven) approach to giving money for particular projects hardly constituents a focused and long term industrial strategy to support our digital economy, as we have argued for.”