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Robotics & Autonomous Systems

Strategic Outlook

Building upon the research excellence of Scotland’s universities in Robotics & Autonomous Systems (RAS) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) Scotland is uniquely positioned to capitalise on the RAS and AI revolution to produce major societal and economic benefits.

It is estimated that there will be a £13 billion global market for
robotics and autonomous systems by 2025*.

Scotland has significant opportunity and major economic growth potential in areas such as Nuclear Decommissioning, Space Robotics, Asset Integrity Management for Oil& Gas and Nuclear Sectors, Deep Mining, Therapeutic and Rehabilitation Robots, Assistive  & Social Robotics, Medical Robotics, Advanced Manufacturing, Autonomous Transport, Environmental Monitoring, Robotics for Emergency Response, Disaster Relief and Resilience, Construction, Logistics and Smart Delivery, and Defense applications such as Surveillance and Human Support In Field.


Our Sub-Themes align with the grand challenges and opportunities within the Robotics and Autonomous Systems theme and its application sectors. They align with the strengths & capabilities of Scotland in Robotics and Autonomous Systems and the opportunities for growth and synergy which can be catalysed via SRPe collaboration across the university research sector and with industry and public sector. They reflect the challenges and opportunities that exist today and are anticipated for the future based on knowledge of megatrends (e.g. growing demand for customised products; ageing population and workforce; changing skills needs), technological trends / innovations (emerging / disruptive technologies e.g. the Internet of Things (IoT); digitalisation & scale-up), emerging policies and opportunities for economic growth / socio-economic impact. 

SRPe's Sub-Themes within the Robotics and Autonomous Systems Theme are:

  • Extreme & Hazardous Environments (e.g. Nuclear Decommissioning, Space Robotics, Asset Integrity Management for Oil, Gas and Nuclear Sectors, Deep Mining)

  • Transforming Healthcare and Improving the Quality of Life (Therapeutic and Rehabilitation Robots, Assistive & Social Robotics., Medical Robotics)

  • Factories of the Future (Advanced Manufacturing, COBOTS)

  • Resilient and Smart Infrastructure (Autonomous Transport, Environmental Monitoring, Robotics for emergency response, disaster relief and resilience, Construction, Logistics and Smart Delivery)

  • Defense (Surveillance, Human Support In Field)

Key Underpinning Research & Technology Areas

The key research and technology areas underpinning the Robotics & Autonomous Systems Theme are:

  • Micro, Nano and Soft-Robotics

  • Design and Manufacturing of Robotic Systems

  • Robot Perception and Navigation

  • Actuation and Manipulation

  • Robotic Human Augmentation

  • Cognition and AI for Autonomous System Behavior

  • Human–Robot Interaction

  • Certification

  • Dependability, Longevity and Safety

  • Social and Ethical Impact of RAS

  • Artificial Intelligence

Thematic Leadership Group

The SRPe Robotics & Autonomous Systems Thematic Leadership Group (RAS-TLG) is a national research resource that provides expertise to Government and industry, as well as to the wider UK and international research community.

The RAS-TLG membership comprises key experts from across Scotland's leading universities delivering world-class research and development in Robotics, Autonomous Systems and Artificial Intelligence and its underpinning technology areas.

Leadership and membership details of the RAS-TLG are provided below:


Professor Yvan Petillot
Head of Research Institute of Sensors, Signals and Systems
Heriot-Watt University


Dr Michael Mistry
Reader in Robotics, School of Informatics
University of Edinburgh

Professor Ravinder Dahiya
Professor of Electronics and Nanoengineering
University of Glasgow

Professor Helen Hastie
Associate Professor in Computer Science / 
Leverhulme Senior Research Fellow
Heriot-Watt University

Professor Xiu Yan
Professor of Design, Manufacture and Engineering Management
University of Strathclyde

Dr Caroline Cantley
Executive Director
Scottish Research Partnership in Engineering (SRPe)