York to be home to £35m robotics institute

A £35m flagship research centre is to be created in Yorkshire to address the challenges of safety in robotics and artificial intelligene.

University Of York PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo

The University of York is to bring world-leading experts to its Campus East facility which will house specialist laboratories and testing faciltiies.

The York Global Initiative for Safe Autonomy will provide world-class capabilities for testing and evaluation, and will lead activities in research, education and training, innovation, ethics and public engagement.

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Embargoed to 0001 Thursday December 20 Undated handout photo issued by Historic England of University of York, Central Hall, Heslington, York, which has been given listed status in 2018, by Historic England. PRESS ASSOCIATION

Based around three pillars of design, assurance and communications, the York Global Initiative for Safe Autonomy will build on existing programmes it already operates in this field.

York’s Acting Vice-Chancellor Professor Saul Tendler said: “The investment announced today is one of the largest in research infrastructure at York.

“It represents a significant vote of confidence in the University and the region and confirms our position as one of the world’s premier institutions for inspirational and life-changing research.”

The new facility will house up to 100 researchers and support staff and includes a rooftop lab and specialist robotics design and testing equipment.

Work on the new building will begin in April 2020 and will open and be fully operational in 2021.

The UK Research Partnership Investment Fund (UKRPIF) is providing £10.5m, with £24.5m secured through match funding from industrial and philanthropic partners.

Professor Deborah Smith, Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research, added: “The York Global Initiative for Safe Autonomy will contribute significantly to the national Industrial Strategy, enabling us to establish a world-class facility and help strengthen the UK’s position as a leader in the safe introduction of advanced technology.

“Our dedicated research facility will help attract new expertise to York and create a unique environment for fundamental and applied research into the safety of next generation autonomous systems.”

Professor John McDermid, Director of the Assuring Autonomy International Programme at the University, added: “The world is experiencing an unprecedented period of technological advancement. Robotics and AI will change every part of our lives.

“They will remove people from harmful jobs, transform transport, improve productivity, and deliver better social and medical care.

“But this rapid advancement comes with challenges: How do we assure their safety? The York Global Initiative for Safe Autonomy will support research that will give developers, members of the public and regulators the justified confidence that they need in the safety of autonomous systems.”