Manchester launches centre to design AI-enhanced robots for real world applications

A new centre of excellence dedicated to designing the next generation of robots supported with state-of-the-art AI technologies has been launched at The University of Manchester. 

The University's Manchester Centre for Robotics and AI pulls together experts and projects from across the academic disciplines who share the challenge of working on the front line of applied robotic technologies. 

For example, Manchester researchers are looking to develop robotic systems that are able to explore in the most extreme environments, such as those found in the nuclear industry, power generation or agriculture. Other expertise includes designing robots to support digital manufacture or work in the field of medicine and health. 

While driving developments in cutting-edge robotic systems, the new multidisciplinary centre will also have a commitment to ensure autonomous systems are compatible with the values and expectations of society. Some of the breakthrough Manchester-led research work will include: 

  • designing control systems with a focus on bio-inspired solutions to mechatronics, eg the use of biomimetic sensors, actuators and robot platforms; 
  • developing new software engineering and AI methodologies for verification in autonomous systems, with the aim to design trustworthy autonomous systems; 
  • researching human-robot interaction, with a pioneering focus on the use of brain-inspired approaches to robot control, learning and interaction; and 
  • research in ethics and human-centred robotics issues, for the understanding of the impact of the use of robots and autonomous systems with 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.

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.

Professor Richard Curry, Vice-Dean for Research and Innovation in the University's Faculty of Science and Engineering

Angelo Cangelosi, Professor of Machine Learning and Robotics at Manchester, said 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," added Professor Cangelosi. 

"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 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 hosted an inaugural workshop – attracting more than 90 delegates – to bring a strategic focus to the robot and AI community at Manchester, and looks to share expertise and innovation. 

Find out more about the Manchester Centre for Robotics and AI. 

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