Robots have come to occupy a dubious position in the popular imagination and fiction in recent years. However the reality is that smart machines are already all around us, cleaning our homes, manufacturing our cars, transporting us on our holidays, even starting to deliver our take-away meals. There’s no escaping that advances in robotics are creating incredibly exciting possibilities for the future of domestic living, manufacturing, transport, shopping, even healthcare. Smart machines will have a critically important role to play in building a Low Touch Economy, tackling big problems like a sustainable NHS, or delivering NetZero targets and Sustainable Development goals. What do we want the future of robotics to look like? How might robots best serve human needs today – to reduce inequality and improve quality of life for everybody? And what role should we, the public, have in shaping the agenda?
Editor: James Harding, Editor and Co-founder, Tortoise.
This ThinkIn is hosted in partnership with the Robotics Growth Partnership, a leadership group convened by the UK Government in 2019, to shape the future of robotics. Participants will hear first-hand from members of the Robotics Growth Partnership and leading thinkers from across the sector, and will have the opportunity to help shape the UK’s ambitions and the plans to bring them to life.
Our invited experts include:
Paul Clarke CBE FREng, Chief Technology Officer at Ocado is a world leader in smart fulfilment and logistics. Paul’s role at Ocado includes exploring opportunities to use Ocado’s technologies and competencies to disrupt other sectors, research activities and the technology vision and future proofing of the business. Paul read Physics at Oxford University, before entering the computer industry. Paul sits on a number of government and industry advisory boards including the AI Council, Robotics Growth Partnership (co-chair), National Food Strategy Advisory Board and the BEIS Innovation Expert Group.
Professor David Lane CBE FREng FRSE, RGP CoChair, Professor and Founding Director Edinburgh Centre for Robotics, EPSRC RAS Centre for Doctoral Training and ISCF ORCA Hub, publishing over 300 cited publications with international funding. Former award winning CEO of SeeByte Ltd/Inc and now serial entrepreneur, personal investor and Board member in 5 RAS companies and 1 fund in Edtech, Healthcare, Manufacturing, Offshore Energy, Defence and Food
Elaine Whyte, Partner at PA Consulting. Elaine is focused on rapidly pulling technology from R&D through into the users hands. Having served for 20 years in the Royal Air Force as an aerospace engineer, Elaine began her journey with RAS by taking drones to business and identifying how aerial collected data could support them in making better decisions. Now a consultant with PA Consulting where the purpose, bringing ingenuity to life to build a positive human future, is at the heart of what Elaine aspires to deliver.
David Bisset, career roboticist. Formerly head of mobile robotics research at the University of Kent, he was an engineer with Dyson before moving into consultancy in robotics and embedded systems, assistive technology and technology transfer. David is the chair of the advisory board for the Robotics and Artificial Intelligence Knowledge Transfer Network and a regular speaker, author and leader of a range of European robotics programmes.