Members of the RAIN team attended the 11th Annual European Robotics Forum (ERF) ‘Future Robotics – Unlocking Human Potential’ from 3-5th March this year. The event was held at The Trade Fair and Congress Centre of Malaga (FYCMA) and delivered through a series of presentations, workshops and an exhibition filled with technology from across Europe.
Simon Watson from RAIN delivered a workshop on “Funding Robotics for Extreme Environments: A UK Perspective”. This introduced the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund’s (ISCF) “Robots for a Safer World” funding mechanism and discussed how it has been set up, what type of projects have been funded and whether or not the scheme has been successful. There were presentations from Simon Watson (The University of Manchester), Nikos Pronios (UKRI Innovate UK) and Manuel Giuliani (The University of West of England/Bristol Robotics Lab). An interesting and productive panel session followed including the presenters and Rich Walker (Shadow Robot Compony), Rob Skilton (UKAEA) and Russel Brown (Chevron).
RAIN were also part of the ISCF Robotics and AI for Extreme Environments exhibition stand in collaboration with the ORCA, FAIR-SPACE and NCNR hubs. Hub members spoke with many attendees from the robotics community from across Europe about how research was driving change in their respective industries, developing robotic solutions to their specific challenges. Working together with the other hubs was a real bonus, highlighting how much of the research is transferable across industries.
It was a wonderful event, of course impacted by the uncertainty of what may come. The organisers ensured that the conference could go ahead as safely as possible. Sanitiser and social distancing was encouraged, and shaking hands off limits. The number of attendees was certainly lower than previous years, but virtual video platforms for remote presentations and participation in the workshops mitigated much of that impact. We look forwards to next year.