In-depth reports and recommendations on key robotics sectors released as part of UK Robotics Week (21st – 29th June 2018)

On the 20th July the Urban Institute’s White Paper on ‘Urban Robotics and Automation‘ was formally launched as a key event in the International Robotics Showcase at the Liverpool Exhibition Centre. The White Paper was commissioned by the EPSRC RAS Network as part of a series of papers that scope the state and future research priorities in robotics and automated systems. Our White Paper is the first to identify a distinctive urban agenda, highlighting the urban issues that robotics and automation can address. Emphasis is placed on a whole city approach and the need for supportive governance and regulation for meaningful spaces of urban experimentation. Examples from the USA, Africa, Japan and Dubai demonstrate the potential scale and scope of urban robotic applications.

The “Urban  Robotics  and  Automation:  Critical  Challenges,  International  Experiments  and  Transferable  Lessons  for  the  UK” whitepaper offers a detailed analysis of the application  of  robotics and autonomous systems technology  in  supporting  urban  growth  in the  UK.  The report discusses urban  potential  in  various   aspects  of  urban  life,  such  as  health  care,  construction and  maintenance, as  well  exploring the   transport  and  socio-economic  impacts. The  paper  also  points  to  the  distinctive  ‘urban’  dimensions  of  RAS  innovation – from  laboratory  to  real -world  applications – and  looks at how  current  and  future  challenges  can  be  addressed.  The paper concludes with key recommendations for addressing some  of  the  acknowledged challenges,  and  provides  a  clear basis  for shaping discussion of  the  future  technological roadmaps,  engaging  the   wider  community, stakeholders and  policy  makers, and for  assessing  the wider implications of  RAS  in  Urban  Automation  and  Transport.

Commenting on the launch, report author Professor Simon Marvin of University of Sheffield said:

“Cities are being automated at a steady pace and advances in urban automation and transport are continuously shaping our urban life and environment, so this whitepaper comes at a very interesting and key time in the technology progression.  Good city governance and resource utilisation enables smooth flow of services, data, and people, and many cities are now  becoming  test  beds  – for  both  national  and  local  governments  – to experiment with robots in social spaces, and  to explore their role in facilitating everyday life and good city governance.  With connected and autonomous vehicles set to take another leap forward in the UK thanks to a series of recent government funding announcements, we will continue to see major industry shift towards automation, connectivity, shared mobility and the electrification of vehicles. This market disruption is changing the way the urban environment is organised, and in this paper we take a comprehensive look at the transformative effect this will have on the way people travel, especially in cities.”