Guest speaker for the next IMarEST Lord Kelvin Lecture is David Lane FREng FRSE, Professor of Autonomous Systems Engineering and Director of Ocean Systems Laboratory & the Edinburgh Centre for Robotics, Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, UK.
Robotic and Autonomous Systems (RAS) are with us and set to be a disruptive technological force changing how we live and how we do businesses in the 21st Century. A recent report my McKinsey has estimated the application of advanced robotics could generate a potential economic impact of $1.7 trillion to $4.5 trillion per year by 2025. In 2013, the UK Government identified RAS as one of 8 Great Technologies underpinning the UKs industrial strategy for jobs and growth.
Many use cases and business models call for autonomous robots that can operate in unstructured environments for extended periods of time without operator assistance. In marine robotics, inspection, repair and maintenance in the oilfield, adaptive environmental survey responsive in real time to scientific events, and persistent surveillance missions for security are just a few examples.
Marine robotics researchers worldwide are actively pursuing programmes investigating new approaches to such persistent or long-term autonomy. Their efforts are developing new forms of bio-inspired embodiment, machine-learning techniques for control, semantic descriptions of environments from sensor data, adaptive planning for unknown situations, bio-inspired sensing systems, and collaborative architectures for multi-robot tasks.
The lecture will review some of these maritime robotic developments, considering the technology push that’s coming to create innovation from our invention, and addressing some of the implications for employment, productivity, education and disruption of traditional business models.