EPSRC RAI Hub Awards

Three major EPSRC RAI Hub Awards to boost Robotics Research Portfolio at University of Edinburgh

The EPSRC has just announced the results of the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund led bids for the UK National hubs in Robotics and Artificial Intelligence (RAI). The School of Informatics and the Edinburgh Centre for Robotics are major winners, playing a crucial role in three of the four successful bids.  

The Edinburgh Centre for Robotics (a joint initiative between the University of Edinburgh and Heriot Watt University) will lead the £36M RAI Hub on Offshore Robotics for Certification of Assets (ORCA) that includes a £14.6M investment from EPSRC, industrial support of over £18M and the university consortium contributing an additional £3.6M. The ORCA hub, in collaboration with the University of Oxford, Imperial College London and University of Liverpool, aims to develop, deploy and validate robotics and AI technology for the inspection, maintenance and repair of offshore assets for the Oil and Gas and the renewable sector. The hub will develop the core underpinning science as well as test demonstrators that progresses the long-term industry vision to run and maintain offshore energy fields autonomously from the shore -- to improve economic viability and improve working conditions.

Valkyrie humanoid project.

National Centre for Nuclear Robotics (NCNR), a multi institutional hub led by University of Birmingham brings together a £11.4M investment from EPSRC to tackle challenges of nuclear decommissioning, exploration and asset maintenance using RAI technology. Edinburgh University will contribute research that looks at navigation in complex and extreme environments using our unique hardware platforms such as the ANYmal quadruped.

Professor Sethu Vijayakumar, the Director of the Edinburgh Centre for Robotics and the Edinburgh PI on the ORCA and the FAIR-SPACE bids, said “We are absolutely delighted at the scale of new investment that is coming in to Edinburgh to tackle some real world problems in the RAI domain. We thank EPSRC for their vision and leadership that enabled this program. This will help us recruit world class postdoctoral talents that will act as a much needed bridge between the world class PIs at the Centre and the top quality PhD students coming through the RAS CDT pipeline. In conjunction with the Edinburgh City Deal which is being finalised and the new robotics facilities coming online at the Bayes’ Centre next summer, this is an exciting time to be doing Robotics and AI at Edinburgh”.

Dr. Michael Mistry is the lead Edinburgh PI on the NCNR bid and Dr. Zhibin Li will be co-PI on the FAIR-SPACE project. Several other Edinburgh faculty including from the School of Engineering are co-PIs on the ORCA project. All the projects are funded for an initial period of 3.5 years, starting October 2017 and will see direct EPSRC contribution to the University of Edinburgh research portfolio in excess of £6M, excluding investments from the industrial partners.


EPSRC contribution numbers (for reference)

ORCA Hub: EPSRC non-FEC contribution = £14.6M, Edinburgh share = £4M

NCNR Hub: EPSRC non-FEC contribution = £11.4M, Edinburgh share = £700K

FAIR-SPACE Hub: EPSRC non-FEC contribution = £6.27M, Edinburgh share = £730K


Sethu and Valkyrie robot photo