Highlands & Islands

Aye, robot: Robots 'can benefit' Scottish businesses

Robot Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The two-day event aims to "demystify' the subject of robotics and automation

Robots could be of use to Scottish businesses of all sizes, organisers of a new event in Inverness have said.

Described as Scotland's "first ever showcase of robotics and automation", the event is taking place on Wednesday and Thursday.

Organisers Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) said it aimed to "demystify" the subject of robots.

The use of "cobots", robots that work alongside workers rather than taking over jobs, will be discussed.

The free event at the Inverness Campus is to demonstrate how robotics and automation could make manufacturing, engineering, construction and timber industries "more productive and efficient".

Image caption The showcase is being held in Inverness

It comes almost a year after a report warned that automation could cost Scotland 230,000 jobs over the next decade.

Jobs in Dundee are most at risk from the rise of robot labour, with Edinburgh and Aberdeen better placed to adapt to the changes ahead, it said.

The Cities Outlook report is an annual health-check of city economies and this year highlighted the potential impact of automation and globalisation.

It said one in five posts in Scottish cities could be displaced by 2030.

'Education is key'

Speakers at the Inverness event include Prof David Lane of the Edinburgh Centre for Robotics, SP Technology's Roy Henderson and George Paterson from Mitsubishi Electric.

Also speaking will be Tim Warrington of robot hire specialist Bots, Dr Cade Wells from Glasgow-based innovation centre CENSIS and Kenneth Maddock from the High Speed Sustainable Manufacturing Institute.

Mr Maddock will give a talk on the role of cobots in working alongside shop floor workers and staff.

Manufacturing and timber businesses will discuss robotics and automation in their industries.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption HIE said it hoped to inform businesses of current and future technology
Image caption The event features talks and workshops led by industry experts

Demonstrations will feature a range of robots and cobots.

They will include the Universal Robots UR5 cobot, Franka Emika Panda, which is a robot arm inspired by human agility.

There will also be demonstrations of the Sawyer's cobot which has been designed to complete tasks quickly and Mobile Industrial Robots that can be used for transporting heavy loads.

April Conroy, of HIE, said: "Automation is changing the way we work and creating new opportunities for businesses but there's also the risk of being left behind.

"Education in this area is key and our event offers businesses the chance to gain access to current and future tech so they can make more informed decisions about how to invest."

She added: "This event will bring a real sense of what the future of manufacturing looks like and where the opportunities lie for businesses.

"Through panel discussions, tech demonstrations, innovative showcases and structured networking, we're offering the perfect platform for identifying mutually-beneficial collaborative partnerships."

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