Robertson starts work on £22.4m Edinburgh robotics facility



Robertson has commenced construction work at Heriot-Watt University’s Edinburgh Campus to deliver a £22.4 million National Robotarium.

The facility, which will be the largest and most advanced of its type in the UK, will be a centre of excellence for pioneering research for robotics and artificial intelligence. 

The National Robotarium will create innovative solutions to global challenges using cutting-edge research, product design and industry collaboration. Bringing together academics and global companies, the facility will provide a catalyst for entrepreneurship and is expected to deliver sustainable economic benefit to Edinburgh, the UK and beyond. 

David Cairns, managing director, Robertson Construction Central East, said: “The National Robotarium building is designed to be as innovative as the research taking place within its walls. The commitment to sustainability and the wellbeing of its staff and students mean the facility will be equipped with state-of-the-art technology for energy efficiency and production and will boast considerable green space.”

Professor Helen Hastie and Professor Yvan Petillot are joint academic leads of the National Robotarium.

Describing the vision for the new facility, Professor Hastie said: “By drawing upon the world-class talent of the staff at Heriot-Watt and our collaborative partner, the University of Edinburgh, alongside students at the Centre for Doctoral Training in Robotics and Autonomous Systems, the National Robotarium will form a centre of excellence for fundamental research and knowledge exchange to address real-world challenges and industry needs. 

“The new building will facilitate a collaborative approach that is at the heart of the National Robotarium’s ethos, helping to accelerate research from laboratory to market and paving the way for the UK to take a leadership role in AI and robotics technology.” 

Funded as part of the Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region Deal, the National Robotarium is a collaboration between Heriot-Watt University and the University of Edinburgh. The 40,000ft² building will house three distinct research and development areas, providing bespoke facilities for Robotics & Autonomous Systems (RAS), Human & Robotics Interaction (HRI) and High Precision Manufacturing. Amongst the specialist equipment will be dedicated laser labs, an autonomous systems laboratory, and a living lab for trialling technology in a realistic home setting. 

Based at Heriot-Watt University’s Edinburgh campus, the National Robotarium is supported by £21m from the UK Government, and £1.4m from the Scottish Government as part of the Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region Deal.

The National Robotarium, which is expected to open in Spring 2022, forms part of the City Deal’s Data Driven Innovation (DDI) theme which aims to establish the region as the data capital of Europe.  



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