How much is the government investing in robotics in the UK?


The development of driverless cars, robot surgeons and automated farming within the UK could transform our economy but the estimated £327 million from government needs to be better invested to beat off international competiton.

A report on the UK’s feasibility as a market leader in the robotics space says that the UK’s funding agencies must work formally together to ensure money is not being wasted on duplicate projects and that skills or resources are shared to cut time and costs are made clearer.

The industrial robotics market is worth over £17 billion ($25 billion) and forecast to reach £25 billion ($37 billion) in three years’ time.

Additionally, professional service robots like robotic laparoscopic surgeon arms will see a huge increase in demand, generating $3.4 billion (£2.2 billion) to $17.1 billion (£11.47 billion) within a year.

©iStock/Cowlick Creative

Britain began beefing up its robotics efforts in 2012, aware that the USA, South Korea, China, Japan, Germany and France were closing in on the market.

“By acting soon, decisively and in concert, we have the opportunity to capture the early mover advantage and establish the UK as a leader in the implementation of RAS technology," says the Robotics and Autonomous Systems (RAS) group which is part of government body Innovate UK (formerly the Tech Strategy Board).

“Such an approach will build on UK strengths in the fields of ICT, big data and systems engineering as well as UK specific market opportunities in areas such as energy, legacy decommissioning and healthcare."

The importance of the robotics industry came to the fore this morning when the minister for universities, science and cities, Greg Clark, promised to maximise the existing financial investments in light of the RAS’ report.

Promising to put a dedicated robotics cabinet team in place, Clark’s letter to the robotics community outlined some of the existing robotics project funded by the UK.

In light of this, Techworld has compiled a list of robotics projects funded to the tune of £327.5 million.

While private firms will have spent considerably more developing technologies, and this list is not exhaustive of all public sector spending in the area, it shines a light on projects where academic research and skills could be recycled - reducing time and cost to the tax-payer during the international robotics race.

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