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Cobot Maker Space launched to explore the future of robots and industry

Thursday, 09 September 2021

A new facility for human-robot interaction research designed to support industry in exploring the use of this technology has been launched at the University of Nottingham.

The new Cobot Maker Space is on Innovation Park on Jubilee campus and is designed to provide a dedicated facility for research and industry collaboration into new innovations in robots and artificial intelligence (AI), and to explore ways to enhance human-robot interaction in a range of real life scenarios - from business and manufacturing to home life with social and rehabilitation robots.

The new facility will enable researchers to create human – robot scenarios with conditions that resemble real production environments. It will also enable research into how people interact with robots and how new human sensing technologies can be used. There is also a public facing space within the Cobot Maker Space to deploy digitally enhanced products and to display new human-robot interaction as publicly accessible demonstrators.

We have a wealth of expertise in human-robot interaction at the university that we already use to help solve problems, improve processes and enhance human experiences across a range of industries – from robots to detect allergens on the factory floor to interactive storytelling and performance. The launch of the Cobot Maker Space will allow this expertise to be bought together and give access to industry partners for a range of exciting collaborative projects.
Professor of Computer Science and academic lead for the Cobot Maker Space, Steve Benford
Robin the service robot

Some of the robots available include Robin, a humanoid style robot with poseable head and arms, with on-board audio and video that can be used for speech and face recognition and Spot, a Boston Dynamics dog-like mobile robot, suitable for use on a variety of indoor and outdoor terrains.

Spot the robot dog

The Cobot Maker Space was officially opened by Dame Jessica Corner, Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Research & Knowledge Exchange, she said: “Research into robot technology and Artificial Intelligence is moving at pace and this new dedicated space will allow the university to continue to lead the way with new innovations and knowledge that can be shared and applied to real-life scenarios.”

The Cobot Maker Space has been developed with a combination of Smart Products Beacon and EPSRC funding and will be integral to delivering the research programmes of its partners – the Horizon Digital Economy Research Institute and the Trustworthy Autonomous Systems (TAS) Hub.

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More information is available from Professor Steve Benford at the University of Nottingham on Steve.Benford@nottingham.ac.uk

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Notes to editors:

The University of Nottingham is a research-intensive university with a proud heritage. Studying at the University of Nottingham is a life-changing experience and we pride ourselves on unlocking the potential of our students. We have a pioneering spirit, expressed in the vision of our founder Sir Jesse Boot, which has seen us lead the way in establishing campuses in China and Malaysia - part of a globally connected network of education, research and industrial engagement. Ranked 103rd out of more than 1,000 institutions globally and 18th in the UK by the QS World University Rankings 2022, the University’s state-of-the-art facilities and inclusive and disability sport provision is reflected in its crowning as The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2021 Sports University of the Year. We are ranked eighth for research power in the UK according to REF 2014. We have six beacons of research excellence helping to transform lives and change the world; we are also a major employer and industry partner - locally and globally. Alongside Nottingham Trent University, we lead the Universities for Nottingham initiative, a pioneering collaboration which brings together the combined strength and civic missions of Nottingham’s two world-class universities and is working with local communities and partners to aid recovery and renewal following the COVID-19 pandemic.

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