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UK Industry Still Sceptical About Deployment of Robots

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A leading robotics industry expert believes that UK industry remains sceptical about the deployment of robots, and that what is needed is a more positive and realistic attitude.

Dr Susanne Bieller, General Secretary of the International Federation of Robotics, voiced her thoughts ahead of Bot-Talks, an open event to be held in Bristol on Wednesday 20th November for SMEs, and organised by Bristol robotics online platform, Bot-Hive.

Dr Bieller, who is travelling from her base in Frankfurt, Germany to talk at Bot-Talks, said in the build-up to the event:

“Overall, the business world is accepting robotics and automation very well. If you are active on a global scale and want to remain competitive, there is no alternative to automation for most businesses – the question rather is where to start and which processes to automate first.

“The issue we are facing here in Europe, and I think the UK is not an exception, is the public perception of robotics and, related to that, a certain scepticism against the deployment of robots. There is a huge difference among the public opinion across Europe. It certainly has an impact how trade unions are supporting the automation process, and also how the media are influencing the debate.

“It is quite interesting to see that this debate basically is unknown in countries like Japan and China, where they see the basic need to automate in order to compensate the lack of qualified labour.

“I would love to see a more positive and realistic attitude toward robots. Neither fears nor exaggerated expectation do really help in the further expansion of robotics and automation.”

Some of Europe’s leading experts on robotics will descend on The Watershed, on 20th November as Bot-Hive holds its first ever Bot-Talks (tickets available here).

Created to provide SMEs with a best-in-class overview of robotics and automation, Bot-Talks consists of presentations from leading industry experts, a panel discussion and a networking hall filled with robot demonstrations.

Bot-Hive CEO Jacques Bonfrer will open an afternoon of talks, with the following line-up: Mike Wilson, Chairman of British Association of Robotics & Automation, on the state of UK robotics; Kate Hyslop, Head of Marketing of Automata, on democratising robotics; Jim Davison, Regional Director of Make UK on robotics in manufacturing; Professor Tony Pipe, Deputy Director of the Bristol Robotics Laboratory, on autonomous vehicles; and, Karl Foster, Head of Technology at Blake Morgan, on robotics and ethics.

This will be followed by a panel discussion between: Farid Dailami, Associate Professor

of the Research Innovation Facility Bristol; Dominic Keen, CEO of Britbots; Dr Susanne Bieller, General Secretary of the International Federation of Robotics; Paul Grantham, Manufacturing Lead at Natwest; and Ashu Sharma, Robotics Expert, PwC Consulting.

Bot-Hive CEO Jacques Bonfrer said:

“This is a superb opportunity to hear some of the leading lights in the robotics sector talk about the state of play as regards UK industry and automation, where we currently are and what is coming up in the future. UK industry has to automate in order to become competitive within the global market and SMEs need someone to look to for guidance and leadership in these difficult times. I hope that Bot-Talks will play a part in this process.”

Bot-Hive is a startup funded by Britbots and the Startup Funding Club, and based in The Robotics Laboratory, part of The University of the West of England. It is on a mission to help UK industry with its productivity problems.

Bot-Talks takes place on Wednesday 20th November at The Watershed, 1 Canon’s Road, Harbourside, Bristol, BS1 5TX.

It starts between 1.30pm and 1.45pm, with the conference taking place between 2pm-5pm, and networking and demonstrations between 5.30pm and 8pm.

SMEs and other interested parties are welcome to attend the event and should register here.