Revolutionising robots

David Lane

We are pioneering robotics research that will revolutionise the global economy over the next 20 years: spanning the nuclear, space and the offshore industries, transport, healthcare and manufacturing.

Professor David Lane CBE, Founding Academic Lead, National Robotarium

New generations of smart robots are revolutionising how tasks are carried out. Professor David Lane, as the founding academic lead of the National Robotarium, spearheaded research into new ways to make robots interact; with the environments around them, with people, with each other and with themselves.

They study the sensing, world modelling, planning and control architectures that can make robots persistently autonomous, operating in unknown environments for extended periods. They investigate shared autonomy where people and robots operate in highly synergistic ways to complete tasks. They observe nature to develop bio-inspired systems that sense and process data using methods that have evolved in biological organisms.

Heriot-Watt University and the University of Edinburgh jointly run the ECR, supported by over 40 industrial partners, this £100M research investment includes a state-of-the-art equipment facility for research and knowledge exchange, and the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Robotics and Autonomous Systems, producing 100 innovation-ready PhD graduates.

This is now set to become the UK’s National Robotarium, as part of the Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region Deal which was formally signed on 7 August 2018. The National Robotarium, which opens it's purpose-built centre at Heriot-Watt’s Edinburgh Campus in 2022, is a world-leading innovation hub for the practical application of robotics and autonomous systems, helping to transform Edinburgh and its surrounding area into the data capital of Europe.

Real-world impact

Robotics has been identified by the Scottish and UK Governments as a key growth area and our significant robotics research concentration is already contributing towards the drive to revolutionise manufacturing, healthcare, offshore energy, construction, environmental monitoring and defence.

Further funding has been awarded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) for the Offshore Robotics for Certification of Assets Hub or ‘ORCA Hub’. The consortium together with the University of Edinburgh, Imperial College London, University of Oxford, University of Liverpool and 31 industry partners, is developing robotics technologies for use in extreme and hazardous environments.

Read more about the National Robotarium and the ORCA Hub.

Key information

David Lane