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Key role for robotics in tackling pandemics

Posted on 22 Jun 2020 and read 1251 times
Key role for robotics in tackling pandemicsA new survey commissioned by the EPSRC UK Robotics and Autonomous Systems (UK-RAS) Network (www.ukras.org/robotics-week), reveals that UK public sees a key role for robotics in tackling COVID-19 and future pandemics. The poll, carried out ahead of UK Robotics Week which takes place this week (22-28 June 2020), reports that over one in three UK adults believe robotics could help manufacture PPE, while over a third think that robot deliveries could aid social distancing.

In the poll, 36% of a representative sample of UK adults believe that robotics technology could help to ramp up the manufacture of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), while 33% feel that robot deliveries and the use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) could aid social distancing during public health crises such as the current global pandemic.

Meanwhile, 28% of those polled also think that robotics could play a vital role in automating the cleaning and disinfecting of public places.

The survey reports that the manufacturing sector tops the list of industries in which people think robotics are most useful, highlighted by 42% of respondents, ahead of logistics (30%) and military and defence (20%).

While just under a fifth of those polled (17%) indicated that robotics should be most used in the medical sector, the medical field is also where most people (38%) expect to see the most rapid advancements in the next 12 months.

A surge in robotics innovation is also anticipated by the UK public in 3-D printing (34%), logistics (30%) and in the household (29%).

Other key findings from the research include: almost one in five (19%) of UK adults think that robotics should replace people doing physical work; while 56% of people have stayed as trusting since last year towards robotics, 16% of people have become more trusting.

Professor Robert Richardson, chair of the EPSRC UK-RAS Network, said: “These findings from our latest survey into attitudes towards robotics show that the public is taking a real interest in how robotics technology is developing, and the benefits of using robots across a range of sectors.

“Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, we have seen examples of specific tasks that robots are able to carry out while removing humans from risk – including disinfecting spaces and transporting medical supplies and food around hospitals – and UK Robotics Week offers a fantastic opportunity to explore how robotic systems can both contribute to our everyday life and work, and also help us prepare for and adapt to unexpected events.”

UK Robotics Week is organised annually by the EPSRC UK-RAS Network, which was founded in 2015 to bring cohesion to the robotics and autonomous systems research base, enhance capital facilities across the country, and support education programmes and public engagement activities.

This year’s programme is showcasing the ‘state of the art’ in robotics systems research and development and includes prestigious academic challenges and engaging school competitions.

New for this year is the Medical Robotics for Contagious Diseases Challenge, which invites the leading robotics research teams from across the world to submit innovative ideas that could offer solutions as part of a multi-faceted response to the current COVID-19 health crisis and future global pandemics.

For more information about UK Robotics Week, visit the Web site (www.ukras.org/robotics-week).