Two major new robotics whitepapers setting out the vision for widespread adoption of robotics technology across the workplace and in surgical settings have today been published by the EPSRC UK Robotics & Autonomous Systems (UK-RAS) Network.

The UK-RAS Network whitepapers are intended to serve as a basis for discussing UK industrial and social strategies, and for engaging the wider community and stakeholders, as well as policy makers.

The Skills and Education whitepaper explores the need to reskill the current workforce to work safely and effectively alongside robots, to train managers to understand and effectively deploy automation, and to ensure that, across all levels of education, people from diverse backgrounds have the skills they need to be part of the 2030 workforce. The whitepaper summarises the opportunities and challenges, identifying promising recent initiatives in skills training, both in the UK and across the world, and highlights future interventions in UK-RAS education that are both affordable and scalable, and that could help the UK maintain its place as a leading technological economy.

The Surgical Robotics whitepaper revisits the first UK-RAS whitepaper on the topic, published five years ago, in light of the significant changes in technology and regulatory processes, and increased adoption. The new whitepaper summarises the latest achievements in the sector and offers a measured view about the future of surgical robotics in the UK – including the outlook for creating shared resources and clusters, attracting a skilled workforce from around the world and fostering international collaborations. It also identifies existing translational barriers and offers key recommendations.

Commenting on today’s whitepaper launch, Professor Robert Richardson, EPSRC UK-RAS Network Chair said: “Both COVID-19 and Brexit have accelerated the rise of robotics in the social and economic life of the UK, and we expect huge interest in these much-anticipated publications from across academia, industry and government. By drawing on the UK’s world-leading robotics knowledge base in these two key areas, these documents provide a unique perspective on the unprecedented challenges and opportunities ahead, as the UK moves to become a leading player in the 4th Industrial Revolution. We’d like to thank all the contributors to this important body of knowledge, which provides an invaluable blueprint for informing future strategies, and cements the UK’s position as a robotics and autonomous systems innovation powerhouse.”

The EPSRC UK-RAS Network’s first Robotics Summer Showcase of cutting-edge robotics research and innovation, which has run from May through to the end of July, has delivered a variety of free-to-register lectures, workshops, demonstrations and unique events held by Network partners. The UK Festival of Robotics annual celebration was held at the end of June, and was hosted by the EPSRC UK-RAS Network as part of its mission to provide academic leadership in robotics, including coordinating activities at over 30 partner universities across the UK.

These new landmark whitepapers are freely available to download now: