University of Salford’s £13m Robotics Centre receives European funding
The University of Salford has been successful in its bid to secure funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) to support the creation of the UK’s newest Robotics Centre.
The £13m North of England Robotics Innovation Centre will be part-funded by the ERDF and will house robotics, manufacturing labs, teaching space and an automotive laboratory on the ground floor.
It will serve as a hub for the University of Salford’s robotics and automation specialists who are looking to work with SMEs around the country to provide solution development, design, testing and validation of digital innovation.
Disciplines covered by the development will include robotics for intelligent infrastructure, digital automation and supply chain improvement, and health, wellbeing, and integrated care technologies.
The development of the centre is part of the Salford Crescent and University District Masterplan, a £2.5bn, 240-acre major regeneration scheme, aimed at driving economic and social prosperity for the whole of the city over the 10-15-year life of the programme.
As the UK emerges from the COVID-19 crisis and enters a phase of recovery, the work of the university’s Robotics Innovation Centre will be an integral part of facilitating that recovery as businesses look for new and innovative solutions at an accelerated pace due to the challenges that COVID-19 has presented to industry.
Georgina Harris, director of engineering at the University of Salford, said: “The ERDF funding is a huge achievement for those involved in this project, and a real endorsement of how important the project is, not only for the university, but for all the people whose lives it can impact through innovation in the future.
“We want to focus on the needs of small and medium-sized industries and work with them, providing the facilities, expertise and equipment, to help them introduce new technologies in innovative ways.
“The centre will look to develop solutions to problems that can be matured for everyday use – technologies that become ubiquitous, an essential part of how we all work and live.”
The university has recently promoted two members of academic staff who are expert researchers in the field of robotics: Prof Steve Davis, professor in advanced robotics and Dr Theodoridis, reader in robotics.
Prof Davis researches the next generation of robots that are biologically inspired.
The soft robotics that he is developing enable the use of automated robots alongside humans. These robots have abilities that traditional robots do not, particularly as they can be used around the home and in areas of healthcare.
Dr Theodoridis has more than 20 years’ experience in industry and is the creator of ‘Carebot’, an intelligent home carer robot.
Carebot was the first service robot that demonstrated the possibility of human-robot coexistence in a domestic environment, by demonstrating core AI capabilities like grasping and fetching goods, detecting patient falls and home fires, as well as providing an intuitive interactive communication interface with people.
Construction work on the Robotics Centre is due to start in September this year.