Women in Robotics Bristol meet up 8 November

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Women in Robotics Bristol/South West is a professional network for women in robotics, and women who want to be. They promote the visibility of women in robotics – which can only be a good thing!

Their next meet up is 8th November; you can join the network here and follow them on Twitter to get involved and join future activities.

If Bristol is too far, you can also join the wider Women in Robotics network.

UWE PhD student Pavlina Theodosiou kicks off Women Like Me at Engine Shed

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UWE PhD student Pavlina Theodosiou has joined our Royal Academy of Engineering funded project Women Like Me, and is already underway in engaging girls with STEM.

Pavlina has a background in biological sciences and is currently undertaking her PhD at the Bristol Bioenergy Centre in the Bristol Robotics Laboratory, researching Microbial Fuel Cells (MFCs) which are bio-electrochemical transducers that convert organic matter into electrical energy using bacteria. More specifically. Pavlina is researching how a robotic platform called EvoBot can improve MFCs in order to use them on-board low power robots that can be powered by organic waste (more information about the project can be found here: https://blogit.itu.dk/evoblissproject/).

She is also one of the junior engineers on our new project Women Like Me, which is funded by a Royal Academy of Engineering Ingenious grant and launched at UWE on 18th October.

Pavlina decided to take part in Women Like Me because she is passionate about science communication, promoting Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) and engaging girls with STEM activities in order to inspire and enthuse them about STEM careers. As part of the project, junior engineers will be undertaking a minimum of three outreach and public engagement activities with local schools and communities between October 2018 and April 2019. Pavlina began hers almost immediately, helping to run the ClairCity stand at Technotopia which was held at Engine Shed on 20th October.


Bristol Robotics Laboratory hosts Commons select committee

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Members of the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Select Committee visited Bristol Robotics Laboratory (BRL) to discuss future opportunities in the UK’s robotics industry.

Four Members of Parliament from the committee toured facilities at the laboratory on UWE Bristol’s Frenchay campus and met BRL’s Director, Professor Chris Melhuish.

The MPs, led by Chair Rachel Reeves, viewed the laboratory’s Assisted Living StudioDriverless Car Workshop and Simulation SuiteBioenergy CentreSoft Robotics LabFlying ArenaRobotics Innovation Facility and Hardware Incubator. They were also introduced to UWE Bristol’s University Enterprise Zone, which alongside BRL promotes collaboration with industry. It has incubators and grow on space for high tech, high growth companies specialising in robotics and autonomous systems, health technologies and bioscience.

A round table discussion was later held where committee members and roboticists, along with members of the West of England Combined Authority, explored possible future opportunities within the robotics sector, the public perception of robotics, and how the Government engages with and supports the industry. In particular, there was discussion of BRL’s experience of enabling dynamic start-ups through its hardware incubator, and developing enterprising communities and clusters.

David Lennard, Head of Business and Operations at Bristol Robotics Laboratory, said: “It was a great privilege to host members of the select committee at our laboratory, one of the largest robotics facilities of its type in Europe, and offer our perspective on the opportunities and challenges facing this new and emerging sector.

“We hope our guests found the visit insightful and useful for shaping their approach to robotics, automation and technology in future.”

This post was originally published as a news item by UWE Bristol on 26th October 2018.

First meeting of new Board of Trade held at Bristol Robotics Laboratory

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Bristol Robotics Laboratory hosted the inaugural meeting of a new Board of Trade as the facility welcomed leading politicians from across the UK.

The laboratory at the University of the West of England’s Frenchay campus was the venue for the launch of the Board, established to help boost exports, attract inward investors and ensure the benefits of free trade are spread equally across the country.

International Trade Secretary Dr Liam Fox is the Board’s President and he was joined by Minister of State for Trade Policy, Greg Hands, Secretary of State for Scotland, David Mundell, Secretary of State for Wales, Alun Cairns, and Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Chloe Smith.

Advisers from across the United Kingdom were also present, providing local expertise to guide the Board on trade and investment matters. They included Collette Roche, Chief of Staff at Manchester Airport, former President of the Board of Trade, Patricia Hewitt and Ian Curle CEO of the Edrington Group, one of Scotland’s leading premium spirits companies and producers of The Famous Grouse whisky.

Ahead of the meeting, the politicians and advisers received a tour of the laboratory including the Assisted Living Studio, drone aerial zone, technology incubator and driverless car workshop.

Bristol Robotics Laboratory is a collaborative partnership between UWE Bristol and the University of Bristol. The lab, which brings together over 200 academics, researchers and industry practitioners, is the most comprehensive academic centre for multi-disciplinary robotics research in the UK, and is spearheading Britain’s efforts to become a world leader in modern advanced robotics.

This post was originally published as a news item by UWE Bristol on 13th October 2018.

Award-winning student placement at Centre for Machine Vision

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A guest blog by Professor Lyndon Smith from UWE Bristol’s Centre for Machine Vision.

In late June 2018, Josh Beckett (a student at Kings of Wessex Academy in Cheddar), spent a week in the Centre for Machine Vision (CMV) in the Bristol Robotics Laboratory at UWE. He was assisting with our advanced 3D vision methods for plant analysis. The quality of Josh’s work experience can be judged by the comments of the CMV PhD researchers and academics he worked with while in the lab – two of these are copied below:

“I think Josh was really hard working – I actually don’t know if he was having lunch, so I was asking quite frequently if he has eaten! Other than that, he was really fast to pick up what he needs to do (and for what purpose) and was able to do this repeatedly for extended periods of time. I was also impressed with his data management skills – every plant sample that he imaged had a separate folder with a proper name and sub-folders for front and back of the leaf as well as folder for different plant species – much better than most of the first year students that I teach. I am sure Josh deserves to get this award and if he doesn’t, I would like the winners to come to the CMV and extend their internships as we always need good workers.”

“Josh showed that he works well both independently and as part of a team. He has very good communication skills and is clear in discussing his ideas. He has shown that he is very committed and dedicated. Overall, he will be an excellent addition to any work environment as he adapts and integrates very quickly.”

To summarize, Josh had an excellent work placement in CMV – to the extent that he won the Work Experience Prize and was awarded it at the prize giving evening that was held at the Kings of Wessex Academy in September 2018.



UK’s largest robotics conference comes to Bristol

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Robotics and technology experts from the across the globe are coming to Bristol for a leading conference being hosted by Bristol Robotics Laboratory (BRL).

Now in its 19th year, the TAROS (Towards Autonomous Robotic Systems) event is the longest running UK-hosted international conference on robotics and autonomous systems and largest robotics conference in the country. Between 25-27th July at the M Shed museum, it will bring together the latest research and applications in autonomous robotics.

Two of the event’s four keynote speakers are from BRL: Silas Adekunle, Co-founder of Reach Robotics, and Alan Winfield, Professor of Robot Ethics.

The conference’s other keynote speakers are Kerstin Dautenhahn, Professor of Artificial Intelligence at University of Hertfordshire, who on the final day will speak about robot-assisted therapy for children with autism; and Brian Scassellati, Professor of Computer Science, Cognitive Science, and Mechanical Engineering at Yale University, who on the evening of the first day will discuss socially assistive robots capable of assisting users through social, rather than physical, interaction. Professor Scassellati’s lecture, sponsored by the Institution of Engineering and Technology, is open to the general public and free to attend.

A team of nine academics from BRL is organising the event, with 12 students set to play a role through volunteering. The conference is expected to attract up to 130 delegates on each day.

Dr Manuel Giuliani, Professor in Embedded Cognitive AI for Robotics at BRL and General Chair of TAROS 2018, said: “TAROS is the perfect venue for the robotics community to come together and exchange ideas. Bristol is a wonderful innovative city that invites creative thinking and provides the perfect backdrop to create new ideas for robotics research and to find the right partners to realise these ideas.”

To register for the conference, visit: http://www.brl.ac.uk/taros2018/registration.aspx

This post has been edited from a news item originally published on the UWE Bristol news site on 30th April 2018.

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