The Bristol Robotics Laboratory (BRL) is launching an initiative to encourage and support the take up of robotics technology within industry across Europe.
The Robotics Innovation Facility (RIF) in Bristol, UK, which launches tomorrow, forms part of the €20 million (£15.8m) ECHORD++ research and manufacturing in robotics project funded by the 7th Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development.
The Bristol-based RIF is part of a Europe-wide cluster with two further institutions being located at the Biorobotics Institute in Pisa, Italy and the CEA, Paris, France.
“SMEs, other businesses and manufacturers can sometimes find it difficult to access the latest technology
Head of the Bristol RIF Farid Dailami
The Bristol RIF will be dedicated to the stimulation of interaction between robot manufacturers, researchers, and end users, by providing free access to robotics equipment and experts, according to the University of the West of England, who collaborate with Bristol University through the BRL.
The RIF is a gateway for business, especially SMEs, to help them work with new robotic technologies; demonstrate proof of concept in novel robot application areas; and develop new value chains in existing and emerging sectors, a UWE statement said.
Farid Dailami, who heads the Bristol RIF, said: “SMEs, other businesses and manufacturers can sometimes find it difficult to access the latest technology, and understand the potential of robotics and how future deployment could help their business. For example, companies frequently have a product or process idea or improvement but can’t take it to the next stage within their current capabilities.”
According to Dailami, the Bristol RIF will be able to help companies make informed decisions about their robotic needs before heavily investing new systems.
“Through the RIF we would be able to carry out the necessary experiments and modelling to help them understand possibilities, and resource permitting, support them in getting extra funding to continue development. We can also introduce companies to national and Europe-wide networks beneficial to the development of their innovation and ideas,” Dailami said.
Initially, companies will be expected to contact the Bristol RIF through an application process.
“If the company is eligible, and once we are clear what the problem is and how we can help, we set up a meeting and take the process forward,” Dailami said.
“We are also offering a series of workshops which will help participants to develop their understanding of this field and the potential of robotics to enhance their business.”
Numatic International, who manufactures the iconic ’Henry’ vacuum cleaner, is one such company to have already benefitted from working with the RIF initiative.
Manufacturing manager for Numatic International Stuart Cochrane said: “The RIF has helped us to evaluate appropriate solutions for our business and we have expanded our knowledge base through attending short courses on automation theory and practice. This process has enabled us to trial the effectiveness of automation on components that were not originally designed for this.”
RIF Bristol will launch Wednesday 26th November at the UWE Exhibition and Conference Centre.