Jacobs funds £9m UK robotics centre for space, fusion energy

Jacobs funds £9m UK robotics centre for space, fusion energy

Business news |
By Nick Flaherty

Jacobs is continuing its advance into the UK with a £9m ($11m) international research centre in Manchester to develop robotics and autonomous systems.

The Centre for Robotic Autonomy in Demanding and Long-lasting Environments (CRADLE) will research new technologies for challenging and heavily regulated industry sectors such as space, nuclear decommissioning, energy generation and urban infrastructure. Jacobs, which became the majority owner of electronics consultancy PA Consulting in 2021, has key contracts for all these areas in the UK.

The centre is also backed by the University of Manchester and the UK Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council’s (EPSRC) Prosperity Partnerships programme with funding over the next five years. Jacobs is providing $4.6m and will commercialize technologies developed at CRADLE. It sees this as providing a step-change in robotics for robust and reliable autonomous robotics.

“CRADLE will allow the university’s recently established Manchester Centre for Robotics and AI to build a relationship with one of the leading organizations involved in applied robotics, helping us to progress our fundamental research in this area and to deliver impact from the robotic and AI systems that we are developing,” said  Centre Co-director Professor Barry Lennox.

CRADLE’s research remit covers mechatronics, software and how communities and regulators will engage with future robotic systems. Jacobs staff will support 12 PhD students in conducting research and performing prototype demonstrations at the University of Manchester and at its robotics laboratories in Warrington nearby.

“Securing this prestigious Prosperity Partnerships grant allows Jacobs and The University of Manchester to research the autonomous systems that industry needs to solve today’s challenges and create a more connected and sustainable world,” said Jacobs Energy, Security & Technology Senior Vice President Karen Wiemelt.

“Robotics is already a core strength of Jacobs’ work in the energy and space sectors and this research collaboration will enable us to develop advanced technologies to help achieve net zero targets, such as autonomous inspection and repair systems to extend the life of water and energy networks, roads, bridges and railways.” 

This follows the woeful UK National Semiconductor Strategy which reduced the funding for semiconductor research over the next three years: Underwhelming semiconductor strategy is set up to fail;


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