The University of Manchester has launched a new centre of excellence dedicated to designing the next generation of robots supported with state-of-the-art AI technologies.
The Manchester Centre for Robotics and AI will bring together experts and projects from across a range of academic disciplines, focusing on the challenge of working on the front line of applied robotic technologies. University of Manchester researchers are already looking to develop robotic systems that are able to explore in the extreme environments, such as those found in the nuclear industry, power generation and agriculture, as well as designing robots to support digital manufacturing or work in medicine and health care.
As well as driving developments in cutting-edge robotic systems, the new multidisciplinary centre will be committed to ensuring that autonomous systems are compatible with the broader community’s values and expectations.
Among the other Manchester-led research is work on designing control systems, with a focus on bio-inspired solutions to mechatronics using of biomimetic sensors, actuators and robot platforms; the development of new software engineering and AI methodologies for verification in autonomous systems, with the aim of designing trustworthy autonomous systems; research into human-robot interaction, with a pioneering focus on the use of brain-inspired approaches to robot control, learning and interaction; and research around ethics and human-centred robotics issues that will help with the understanding of the impact that the use of robots and autonomous systems has individuals and society.
‘Robotics is now an important field that can be found in research areas across the university’s academic portfolio – which is not surprising, as robotic and autonomous systems are being applied in all parts of our lives,’ said Professor Richard Curry, vice-dean for research and innovation in the university’s Faculty of Science and Engineering. ‘With the launch of this new Manchester centre of excellence in robotics and AI we are providing a new focus to our multidisciplinary, world-class work in this field – and so I encourage colleagues to take the opportunity to think big in terms of the direction of research.’
According to Angelo Cangelosi, a professor of machine learning and robotics, the university offers a world-leading position in the field of autonomous systems – a technology that is set to revolutionise our lives and workplaces. ‘Manchester’s robotics community has achieved a critical mass of expertise – however, our approach in the designing of robots and autonomous systems for real world applications is distinctive through our novel use of AI-based knowledge,’ he said. ‘Our robot pioneers therefore find themselves on the interface between robotics, autonomy and AI – and their knowledge is drawn from across the university’s disciplines, including the humanities and biological and medical sciences. our university now has the potential to build on these solid foundations and further establish itself as a world leader in this important and rapidly growing field with the establishment of the new interdisciplinary Manchester Centre for Robotics and AI.’
The new centre has already hosted an inaugural workshop that attracted more than 90 delegates aimed at bringing a strategic focus to the robot and AI community at Manchester and sharing expertise and innovation.