European Robotics Forum 2017
After many months of planning it was with a great sense of achievement that we welcomed over 800 delegates to ERF2017 which took place at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre from 22-24 March. This three day conference, featuring seminars, workshops and an exhibition, is the premier European Robotics forum; a meeting place for robotics in Europe, bringing together researchers, engineers, managers, and a growing number of entrepreneurs and business people from all over Europe. The event offers opportunities, through attendance at seminars, to consider the potential of robotics applications for business and societal needs as well as how they might create jobs. The exhibition allows companies and research organisations to demonstrate recent breakthroughs in robotics and their potential business applications.
Delegates received a warm welcome to the forum and to Edinburgh from Dr Bernd Liepert, President of euRobotics and Professor Sethu Vijayakumar, co-Director of the Centre. Keynote speakers included Keith Brown, Cabinet Secretary for the Economy, Jobs and Fair Work; Raia Hadsell, Senior Research Scientist at DeepMind; Stan Boland, founding CEO of FiveAI and
Tim Ensor, Chief Commercial Officer at Tharsus.
The theme of this year’s forum was Living and Working With Robots and there were 66 individual workshops/seminars of 90 minutes each on this theme. Topics ranged from Robotics for Nuclear Environments, Construction Robotics, Agri-Food, Neurorobotics and Health, generating lots of interesting conversations and opening the door for future research collaborations. Thirty exhibitors took advantage of the exhibition space to showcase their latest robots. This was a great opportunity for the Centre to show off iCub, the latest addition to our humanoid robot family.
Two evening events allowed us to provide some Scottish hospitality to our visitors. A drinks reception for 600 guests was held in the Kingdom of the Scots Gallery in the National Museum with guests having access to view the exhibits in this and the Explore Gallery. We welcomed 500 delegates to the Awards Dinner which was held in the magical Grand Gallery at the museum. Guests were welcomed on arrival by a piper in full regalia who then piped guests upstairs to a Scottish themed dinner. The evening ended on a high note with Beat the Retreat, a colourful display of music and marching. One attendee was inspired to tweet “this truly was a remarkable evening!!”