Out-Law / Your Daily Need-To-Know

Out-Law News 1 min. read

New UK centre on robotics being considered

A new centre to support robotics and autonomous systems (RAS) technologies could be established in the UK, the government has said.

The government confirmed it is considering the move in a response to a parliamentary committee report that was published last year.

In its October 2016 report, the Science and Technology Committee said a new 'RAS Leadership Council', comprising industry experts, academics and representatives from the government, should be established to help devise a new national strategy on RAS.

The strategy, the Committee said, should set out "the government’s ambitions, and financial support" for RAS and should include the foundation of a new National RAS Institute or 'Catapult'. Catapults are UK centres that provide public funding towards research and development in a range of technologies.

In its response, the government acknowledged that "there is more that can be done to support the development of RAS in the future", but said it is already investing in the UK's "Catapult network". Those investments include "on areas such as autonomous vehicles at the Transport Systems Catapult and manufacturing line technology at the High Value Manufacturing Catapult", it said.

The government said, though, that it could set up a new specialist centre on RAS to augment its industrial strategy.

"The prime minister said in her speech to the CBI on 21 November that at the heart of our industrial strategy is the need to build on the UK’s world class research base to develop new technologies that have the potential to transform existing industries and create entirely new ones," the government said.

"As part of this, the PM announced that government will invest an extra £2 billion a year in R&D by the end of this parliament and that there will be a new Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF) to back priority technologies – such as robotics and AI – where the UK has the potential to turn strengths in research into a global industrial and commercial lead," it said.

"As we develop the industrial strategy, we will consider the best model of leadership for RAS going forward, working closely with industry and the research base to ensure that we meet emerging needs and requirements. The government will also review whether a new physical centre, bolstering of existing centres and/or a programme of grant funding is needed to support RAS technologies above and beyond those that already exist," it said.

Earlier this month, MEPs called on EU policy makers to outline new legislation on robots, including rules that address the liability of robots for damage caused by those machines. 

The UK government recently set out its plans to introduce a "single insurer model" to address how pay-outs to innocent victims of collisions involving driverless cars, powered by autonomous systems technology, should be handled, and how the underlying liability and recovery of costs for those incidents would be governed.

We are processing your request. \n Thank you for your patience. An error occurred. This could be due to inactivity on the page - please try again.