The Impact of Robotics and Autonomous Systems

The Spring issue of BREAKTHROUGH is out and UKSPA Chairman Dr David Hardman MBE looks at the impact of robotics and autonomous systems and a growing legacy of data across industry…

David Hardman Spring BREAKTHROUGH

“From all the coverage, it is apparent that adoption of robotics and autonomous systems (RAS) innovations across industry can be variously represented as huge opportunities for all, or societal Armageddon. Even taking the middle ground, as digital technologies become ever more intuitive, the way we live, work and play will be vastly different within the next couple of decades.

For innovations to take hold there needs to be the coming together of ideas, technology, opportunity and acceptance. As Steven Johnson said, it is about a ‘remixing of the possibles’.

Today’s opportunity derives from the three billion people online, an estimated 17 billion connected devices and sensors, driving ever increasing access to enormous amounts of data. This, mixed with the decreasing cost of data storage, increasing computing power and the ability to connect remote processing, all linked to algorithmic innovation, opens into a new world of artificial intelligence and the potential for true machine learning.

Intuitive machine interfaces are around the corner; they will happen, and at such a pace that they will influence current and next generations, not just future generations with time to adapt.


As managers of innovation ecologies, we need to continue to provide infrastructures that drive the creation and adoption of innovative new products and services; stirring the ‘mix’ and accepting, as Tim Berners-Lee said, ‘Innovation is serendipidy, so you know what people will make’. But we also have to catalyse thought leadership and promote societal acceptance of this next generation of products and services.

Our university partners and higher education stakeholders can play into this through their Public Understanding of Science, STEM Ambassadors and open lecture programmes and we should link our tenant businesses into this debate.

Oscar Salazar suggested, ‘We are all responsible. We are adding technology to a society without thinking about the consequences. I think government, industry and society need to work more together, because it is going to get crazier and crazier’.

We are not passive real-estate managers. We aim to catalyse innovation to grow our local economies.

The content of this issue should stimulate local informed debate on and in our centres, parks, and campuses to ensure effective adoption to the benefit of all in our local economies’.

(Source: UKSPA BREAKTHROUGH Spring Edition)