Ten of the most advanced infrastructure robots and systems currrently in development will be put to the test later this month at the UK Robotics Week Resilient Infrastructure Challenge event in Leeds.
The National Facility for Innovative Robotic Systems at the University is hosting the two-day challenge and conference on 27-28 June in collaboration with the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Councils UK Robotics and Autonomous Systems Network.
The challenge aims to highlight the very latest research and development projects by putting robots on the conference floor to demonstrate their capabilities. A panel of expert judges will choose a winner with the finalists sharing a £5,000 prize fund, to enable further improvements to their robot.
Impact on society
Professor Rob Richardson, Director of the National Facility for Innovative Robotic Systems, said: Were bringing together robots which will have a genuinely positive impact on society, to demonstrate to potential future users just how beneficial they can be.
Regardless of who wins the challenge, all the teams competing have designed and built robots which will improve the quality of infrastructure building, repair and maintenance, which people rarely notice but always rely on in their day-to-day lives.
Professor Guang-Zhong Yang, Chair of the EPSRC UK-Robotics and Autonomous Systems Network said: "Our society increasingly depends on resilient infrastructure. The use of robotics and autonomous systems can provide a sustainable model for infrastructure maintenance, by minimising both disruption to human activity and environmental impact. However, the associated challenges to the robotics community in this area are also significant.
"The Resilient Infrastructure Challenge organised by the EPRSC UK-RAS Network is engaging the wider community in addressing some of the key technological and operational challenges, and will present our future vision in this important area affecting the everyday life of us all."
The visiting competing teams are from the University of Birmingham, University of Edinburgh, Kings College London, University of Liverpool, Queen Mary University of London and the University of Southampton.
They will be joined in the competition by two "home teams" from the University of Leeds which will demonstrate robots and autonomous systems designed to explore pipes for damage, and a drone which can control a group of tipper trucks.
During the event, the launch of a new white paper written by leaders in the field of infrastructure robotics will be highlighted, ahead of its official publication in London two days later at a UK Robotics Week event.
Entitled Robotics and Autonomous Systems for Resilient Infrastructure, its lead author is Professor Richardson. It will be issued on behalf of the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and the UK Robotics and Autonomous Systems Network.
In addition to the competing demonstrations, 20 lectures on different aspects of robotics technology and development are scheduled. Among the speakers are representatives from Kier Services, Q-Bot, Sythotec, James Fisher Nuclear, Leeds City Council, universities and others.
Keynote speakers include Professor Hajime Asama from the University of Tokyo and Professor Mark Miodownik from University College London, as well as Professor Phil Purnell from the University of Leeds.
The National Facility for Innovative Robotic Systems at the University of Leeds is now inviting business and public sector leaders, academics and policy-makers to join the event to watch and hear about the latest developments in the field of robotics and autonomous systems.
Opportunities for organisations wishing to demonstrate relevant technology without taking part in the competition, or to display stands, are also available.
The Resilient Infrastructure Challenge at the University of Leeds is sponsored by the EPSRC, Aeroworks, Kier, and the International Association for Automation and Robotics in Construction.
Professor Richardson is available for interview and journalists are welcome to attend on the day by prior appointment. Please contact Peter Le Riche in the University of Leeds press office on 0113 343 2049.