Chloe Shakesby

"First of its type" Northumberland robotics centre receives £3m funding

Funding has been granted to support the development of a new robotics test site in Northumberland.

The Robotics and Autonomous Systems (RAS) Test Site, set to be the first centre of its type, has received £3m from the government’s Getting Building Fund, which is managed in the region by the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP).

The centre, which is being developed by the Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult in Blyth, will accelerate the demonstration, testing and evaluation of new technologies and will also provide links with ORE Catapult’s team of experts in research, innovation and operational maintenance.

The centre will be equipped with both onshore and offshore demonstration facilities, helping SMEs, universities and other developers of new technologies to develop new products and bring them to market.

Gillian Hall, chair of the North East LEP Innovation Board, commented: “This new test site will put the North East at the centre of robotics innovation for the offshore industry, helping to develop new technologies which have the potential to be used worldwide.

“The Getting Building Fund is there to create new jobs and help the economy recover from the impact of the pandemic, and this project will brings jobs and investment to the region, helping to build a stronger, more sustainable North East.”

Matthew Hadden, deputy head of delivery at ORE Catapult, said: “As the offshore renewable sector continues to grow, some of the largest costs are carrying out inspections, maintenance and installation activities offshore. It’s expensive and potentially dangerous.

“There’s a role for robotics to play in improving these processes and a real drive within the industry to adopt this new technology over the next five to 10 years - our aim is to support and accelerate innovation in robotics here in the North East, and see it in action in UK waters.”

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