As part of the UK Robotics Week 2018 the UK-RAS Network is running several challenges.
For Academics & Industry Professionals:
Another driver for the healthcare challenges addressed by the consortium is in the development of minimally invasive surgery and microsurgery. Use of robots for surgery significantly reduces complications as well as the time for hospitalisation and a faster return to normal life. Current uptake has demonstrated the major advantages in terms of improved surgical outcomes, accurate procedure execution and enhanced post-surgical recovery.
The biggest hurdle to overcome is how to make the technology cost effective and more accessible to the population at large. In this regard, there will be a major shift towards miniaturised robots that can be fully integrated with normal surgical workflows. This represents an excellent window for the UK to capture this opportunity and capitalise our research innovation and clinical strengths to establish our lead globally. Furthermore, there is significant potential in making healthcare robotics as part of a broader national strategy to meet the healthcare requirements of the UK’s ageing population.
RAS for space, environment, maritime and deep-sea exploration is a significant strength of the UK. In homeland security, disaster relief, and dealing with pandemics, manmade and natural disasters and terrorist attacks, RAS with improved functionality and sophistication of search and rescue features by unmanned systems augmented by intelligent surveillance and chemical/biological/radioactive/nuclear/explosive threat countermeasures is a national priority. The challenges addressed by the consortium are far reaching.
The development of RAS to protect human life from threats due to a wide range of unpredictable events including accidents, manmade and natural disasters and terrorist activities is of both national and international importance. In the UK alone, the cost of road traffic accidents is estimated to be £1.5M for each fatality. With an average of over 2000 causalities over the past decade, this conservative estimate gives a cost to the UK of over £2 billion from this cause alone. The rising terrorist attacks in the EU highlight the need for more resilient emergency response. In 2015, 211 terrorist attacks were carried out in the EU member states and experienced a massive number of casualties. Globally, natural hazards such as earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tsunami, floods and storms destroy lives and damage economies across the globe; pandemics have the potential to bring death and suffering on an unprecedented scale; while climate change may increase the severity of both natural and health disasters.
This is a priority issue for Government is care for older people and those living with long-term conditions. There are currently 10.8 million people in the UK are aged 65 or older. The latest UK projections are for 5½ million more people beyond working age in 20 years’ time and this number is expected to nearly double to around 19 million by 2050. The number of individuals disabled by one or more long-term condition is also increasing, driven by overall population growth, improved health care and sedentary lifestyles. The incidence of moderate to severe disability increases rapidly with age from around 1% of those of working age to 50% of those over 85.
Caring for older people, particularly those with disabilities, places a significant strain on the economy. 65% of Department of Work and Pensions benefit expenditure currently goes to those over working age, equivalent to one-seventh of public spending. It has been forecasted that the annual UK public expenditure on long-term care will increase from £11.3bn to £31.1bn by 2032, with private expenditure due to rise from £7.3bn to £22.4bn in the same period. The UK also has a shortage of skilled nurses and residential care workers, expected to worsen as the number of jobs in care increases by up to 1M by 2025.
A 2013 House of Lords report looked at the likely consequences of this ongoing demographic shift and stated the problem plainly: “The UK population is ageing rapidly, but the Government and our society are woefully underprepared”.
For infrastructure, it is anticipated that by 2021 nearly £500bn need to be invested in developing and maintaining national infrastructure, with the largest beneficiaries being energy, transport, social infrastructure, and water and waste. The UK nuclear waste industry is one of the largest in the world and industry management identified that their nuclear waste reprocessing is not sufficiently productive by current tele-operated robots. Fleets of human-manager supervised autonomous robots need to be deployed to guarantee the competitiveness and ultimately the survival of UK nuclear waste reprocessing. There is an urgent need to ensure that more cost effective technologies are developed to target disaster relief and resilience internationally. RAS plays a crucial role in future disaster relief and resilience by decreasing costs, increasing capabilities, reducing response times and improving persistence.
As part of the UK Robotics Week the School Robot Challenge is a national competition being held inspire schoolchildren by the natural world to design and make their own robotic bug. This gender balanced competition is open to all UK schoolchildren aged between 4 - 12 and 13 - 18. It will introduce the concept of bio-redesign that links nature and robotics. The aim of the competition is to challenge young people's perception of robotics and to develop a deep interest in STEM subjects.