A Government minister was given a glimpse into the future when he visited Bristol this week.
University minister David Willetts took a peek at cutting edge robotics design and research on a visit to the Bristol Robotics Lab.
The centre is the largest robotics lab of its type in the UK and a joint collaboration between the University of Bristol and the University of the West of England.
Mr Willetts was shown a project which has the potential to revolutionise the medical industry – from robots which can carry out surgery to groundbreaking work to develop tactile robots which have the potential to feel what’s happening inside someone’s body.
He also met staff and students who have worked with local schools to get pupils interested in robotics, supporting the Government’s desire to get more youngsters studying STEM subjects – science, technology, engineering and maths.
Among those he met were former UWE Bristol student Zan Nadeem, who established start-up business Restech after graduating with a first class BSc in Robotics.
Mr Willetts said: “It’s always fascinating to visit the BRL and to see their latest projects.
“It’s a prime example of academia working with industry to the benefit of the whole country. It also supports local schools to engage youngsters with robotics and encourage them to pursue STEM subjects in the future.
“The Government has identified robotics and autonomous systems as an area which has huge potential for growth. We predict that robots which can act independently of human control will revolutionise our economy and society in the next 20 years. We want Britain to be at the forefront of these world-changing breakthroughs.”
Year 9 pupils from Worle School, in Weston-super-Mare, and Orchard School in Horfield, Bristol, were also shown around the £1.65 million facility, which covers a total area of around 2,400sq metres, with over 300m of specialised laboratory space and two flying arenas.
Professor Chris Melhuish, Director of BRL, said: “We were delighted to welcome David back for his third visit to the BRL and it was encouraging to hear him say that he enjoys coming here to see what exciting projects we’re working on.
“It was very rewarding to hear the Chancellor’s announcement last week that robotics is now regarded as an important ‘future technology’ for the UK. Robots will work for us and with us in the future and the potential impact of this is huge, having a bearing on sectors such as defence, healthcare, manufacturing, transport, entertainment and education.”