European Robotics Week, Midlands IM Conference, new Meetups and more

Networking meet-ups – December 2016 and January 2017

We have got two networking meet-ups confirmed:

  • London12th December – 12-2pm. There’s still space so please book now. We had a venue in Docklands but it’s possible we’ll have to move to a venue just next door, but the date and time remain the same.
  • Brighton20th January – 12-2pm. Lots of space so please book now. This will be hosted by our friends at the Brighton Digital Catapult.

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European Robotics Week

It’s been two weeks since our inaugural event in Leicestershire and although we have already started looking at the remaining 3 events in this series and starting to plan our return to the UK in November 2017, I felt it was worthwhile revisiting one of the partnerships we have, with European Robotics Week.  I describe it as a small partnership because our inclusion was fairly late in that event’s planning and we felt that we could have done more with it – indeed next year, we hope to do much more.

This themed event week included more than 800 events in 30 countries, so we were delighted to be one of the first events on their international event calendar and also one of only a small handful in the UK taking part.  The event is delivered by SPARC, the partnership for Robotics in Europe.

SPARC is the largest civilian-funded robotics innovation programme in the world, and is a partnership between the European Commission and a trade group called euRobotics founded in 2012 by 35 organisations. Now, euRobotics represents more than 250 companies, universities and research institutions, ranging from traditional industrial robotics manufacturers to producers of agricultural machinery and innovative hospitals.

Brexit

Much has been made of the ‘Brexit’ referendum in the UK but it’s worthwhile pointing out that nobody really knows what the effect of this will be, if or when the UK leaves the EU, and whether or not the country or its industries will be excluded from any particular international programmes.

The likelihood is that whatever the political change, the UK’s strength in robotics, space, engineering and industry, as well as other STEM-influenced sectors (Science, technology, engineering and maths) which the UK holds a seat at the ‘big table’ will ensure its place in activities such as this.  Our attitude is, and will remain, that we are part of an international community and unless we are forcibly stopped from working collaboratively across all markets, that’s exactly what we will continue to do.

Robotics and Automation

Why Robotics?  It’s straightforward really, let’s say there are 2000 distinct functions performed by a driver (I think that’s about right, I saw it at a presentation at some point this year but sorry, can’t find the source), 90% of them can be automated with very well established technologies from robotics and industrial automation sector experience – it’s just a question of applying that experience and technology into the automotive sector then making it reliable and cheap enough to go into a production vehicle.

The other 10% gets trickier and starts needing to take advantage of more ‘natural’ processing, which is where AI and huge volumes of data processing comes into play… but if we can access the expertise in other sectors to accelerate the advancement of autonomous vehicles, then why not?  The markets, supply chain and expertise are far larger and more mature, so has a lot to offer.

Midlands Intelligent Mobility Conference

This week we exhibited at the Midlands IM Conference, a free event hosted at Loughborough University’s Holywell Park Conference Centre, not far from where we held our November networking meetup or our inaugural test track and training event.

The conference was organised by two groups of universities (six institutions in all) funded to run specific outreach projects: IMPART and IMPETUS. Both of these are tasked with developing links from universities into government and industry on the topic of Intelligent Mobility, and they have done great work with their extremely modest budgets.

Intelligent Mobility is not just the topic of autonomous vehicles, but also communications, infrastructure, fleet vehicles, public transport, mobility as a service and a myriad of other policy buzz words all of which have a wide variety of industries feeding in to them that are not typically on the radar of the average driverless technology junkie.

I was there with Lina Alousta, our Business Development Manager, exhibiting and networking with a wide variety of organisations active in the UK, as well as several international companies developing their own understanding of what the UK market has to offer.

As one of the only organisations with international technology awareness (primarily from our sister brand, the AutoSens vehicle perception conference – which takes place in the US and Europe) there was a lot of interest in Self Driving Track Days, our networking meetups and other various other events, products and services we are rolling out over the next 18 months both in the UK and elsewhere in Europe… so while naturally we can’t say who we talked to, we were very pleased with the event and will look forward to next years’ incarnation.

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