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

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

The new Cobot Maker Space is on Innovation Park own 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.

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.