Artificial intelligence

City Region Deal funds £22.4m National Robotarium

Construction has begun on a National Robotarium in Edinburgh thanks to £22.4m funding as part of the Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region Deal.

Based at Heriot-Watt University’s Edinburgh campus, £21m of funding is from the UK Government, with the Scottish Government providing £1.4m and is a collaboration between Heriot-Watt and the University of Edinburgh. 

Expected to open in spring 2022, it will create innovative solutions to global challenges using cutting-edge research, product design and industry collaboration and forms part of the City Deal’s Data Driven Innovation (DDI) theme, which aims to establish the region as the data capital of Europe.  

Bringing together academics and global companies, the facility will provide a catalyst for entrepreneurship and is expected to deliver sustainable economic benefit to Edinburgh, Scotland, the UK and beyond.

The National Robotarium will be home to numerous research projects aimed at addressing a wide range of global challenges.

Key areas of research application will include hazardous environments, offshore energy, manufacturing, construction, healthcare, human-robot interaction, assisted living and agritech. 

As part of the UK Research and Innovation’s Trustworthy Autonomous Systems programme, the National Robotarium will spearhead research into ways to manage trust between humans and autonomous systems to support adoption in scenarios that require human interaction, such as in self-driving cars and autonomous wheelchairs. 

Commenting, the UK Government’s Minister for Scotland, Iain Stewart said: “The creation of the UK’s first National Robotarium in Edinburgh will place Scotland at the forefront of a technological revolution that is changing the way we work.   

“This exciting new facility, supported by £21m from the UK Government, will create opportunities for Scotland’s entrepreneurs and innovators, and bring jobs and prosperity to the entire region. 

“The UK Government has now committed more than £1.5bn to City Region and Growth Deals, which will help communities to build back better from the pandemic.” 

The Scottish Government’s Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity, Michael Matheson added: “Across Scotland we have so far committed more than £1.9bn over the next 10 to 20 years to City Region and Growth Deals and additional investments.

“We are investing £300m over 15 years to the Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region Deal across transport, housing, culture, innovation and skills as we work towards a fairer and more inclusive economy. 

“It’s great to see construction now beginning on the National Robotarium. This project will ensure that innovation can play an intrinsic part in the recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.” 

Innovative design means the cutting-edge resources will be matched by the building itself, with a focus on sustainability and energy efficiency and in winter, the intelligent façade will provide solar heat and recycle warm air.

An ecological zone will integrate sustainable urban drainage systems, while a solar PV array will be installed on the roof and EV charging spaces will also be available. 

The Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region Deal was finalised in August 2018 and will see £1.3bn being invested in research, development and innovation, housing, transport, culture and integrated regional employability and skills over the next 10 years.

The region comprises the local authority areas of the City of Edinburgh, East Lothian, Fife, Midlothian, the Scottish Borders and West Lothian respectively.

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