Annual Conference

The aim of the 2017 conference is two-fold:

to provide delegates with an overview of the areas of research in which the RAS CDT students are working 

to provide a forum in which academia and industry can open the dialogue about collaborating to seek solutions to real world challenges

This year the Conference programme will also include the official opening of the new ROBOTARIUM at Heriot-Watt University.  This bespoke facility provides the Centre with a fantastic space in which to carry out cutting edge research work and guests will be able to visit the ROBOTARIUM and see our work first-hand.   

The agenda for the event is as follows:


Wednesday 11th October – Informatics Forum, University of Edinburgh

09.00  David Lane and Sethu Vijayakumar - Welcome to conference and to the 2017 cohort.  Review of 2016-17

10.00  Keynote speaker  Wendell Wallach

Wendell Wallach is senior advisor to The Hastings Center. He is also a scholar, consultant, and author at Yale University's Interdisciplinary Center for Bioethics, where he has chaired Technology and Ethics studies for the past twelve years.  His latest book, a primer on emerging technologies, is entitled, A Dangerous Master: How to keep technology from slipping beyond our control.  In addition, he co-authored (with Colin Allen) Moral Machines: Teaching Robots Right From Wrong, which mapped the then new field of enquiry variously called machine ethics, machine morality, computational morality, or friendly AI.   He received the World Technology Award for Ethics in 2014 and for Journalism and Media in 2015, as well as a Fulbright Research Chair at the University of Ottawa in 2015-2016. The World Economic Forum appointed Mr. Wallach co-chair of its Global Future Council on Technology, Values, and Policy for the 2016-2018 term.  

10.45  Break for refreshments

11.05  Walt Aldred on benefits to industry of sponsoring a CDT student

11.25  Student presentations - 2014 cohort

12.15  Group photo  

12.30  Lunch   

13.30  Keynote speaker Professor Sebastian Conran

CEO of Sebastian Conran Associates, Sebastian takes a hands-on, down-to-earth approach to all his design studio's projects, and is intimately involved in all aspects of design throughout the innovation journey, sharing his wealth of design & making experience and manufacturing expertise with the design team. His studio’s designs have received many awards for design & innovation as well as being granted over fifty patents and design patents in various fields. From stacking shelves at Habitat in his teens to founding the Consequential Robotics startup, Sebastian's life has been focused on understanding how things are made and sold, as well as ingeniously designing innovative, stylish and satisfying products. He has seen many thousands of successful and enduring products through from concept to consumer.

14.15  Student presentations - 2015 cohort

14.45  Student presentations - 2016 cohort

15.15  Poster event with refreshments

16.00  Tour of Centre Facilities at University of Edinburgh

19.00  Conference Dinner, the Scottish Café & Restaurant, Scottish National Gallery - After Dinner Speaker, Josh Valman

Josh Valman

Josh Valman is the CEO of RPD International, a company powering more than 100 corporate R&D departments around the world. The company, based in London with Offices in Holland, China and Singapore, runs 120 factories allowing work across fields from Consumer Electronics to Energy. RPD helps companies quickly develop new products, test them in the market, and scale for the first 12-24 months, reducing the cost and risk of validating new markets and products.

Josh began his engineering aged 10, in robotics, entering to the TV show Robot Wars. He went on to teach himself engineering using Google, designing complex components and systems whilst still at school. Aged 14 Josh began working in China to manufacture the components he was designing.

By 15 Valman began consulting for companies on how they could also use Chinese production to cut their own cost. For almost 3 years, from school and his bedroom, Josh ran corporate supply chains across the US, Europe and Asia. His value stemmed from ignorance to how the corporate world worked, allowing opportunist thinking to find advantages.

After discovering his age, at 17, Josh was forced to end his consultancy career and look to formalise the offering. Now 21 Josh manages a global operation, powering R&D departments of the likes of Vodafone, Air New Zealand and Unilever.


Thursday 12th October – Ednburgh Centre for Robotics Equipment Facility, Heriot-Watt University

09.30     Arrival - refreshments available

09.45     Introduction to Lord Ian Duncan by Principal and Vice-Chancellor Professor Richard A. Williams

09.50     Lord Ian Duncan’s keynote speech

10.00     Professor David Lane will respond to Lord Ian Duncan

10.15     Dr Gillian Murray, Deputy Principal Enterprise and Business

10.45     Tour of facilities

12.00     Lunch and networking

13.30     Professors David Lane and Sethu Vijayakumar - Review of 2016-17

14.15     Industry workshop

Please note that attendance at the conference is strictly by invitation only.


Wednesday, 11 October, 2017 - 09:00 to Friday, 13 October, 2017 - 16:45
Heriot-Watt and Edinburgh Universities