Robotic visions

A national consultation programme working in partnership with ten robotics laboratories and centres of science communication.

A national consultation programme incorporating a unique conference platform for two-way discussion between young people and roboticists, working in partnership with ten robotics laboratories and centres of science communication expertise throughout the UK.

Project aims

This dialogue project involved a nationwide programme of five separate 'visions conferences', held at various geographical locations throughout the UK (Bristol, Newcastle, Aberystwyth, Glasgow and Oxford) in association with key robotics research laboratories and experienced host venues (science centres and universities).

The direction of each conference was led by the participants themselves - both students and researchers - who worked together to identify the issues and topics that are of most concern to them. Each conference provided a distinctive high quality in-depth engagement experience for all the participants, and consisted of two distinct phases:

  1. a divergent phase - where participants were given the opportunity to explore the uses and potential of robotics, bringing their creativity and personal aspirations to the fore
  2. a convergent phase - where key priorities and themes were identified by the participants and a list of key recommendations (considering a range of stakeholders and audiences including government, and other researchers and young people) was produced.

A celebratory session was included at the end of each conference, to which key stakeholders were invited. Part of this celebration included the formal presentation of the participants' shared vision to the local stakeholders. This brief overview was followed up by a short report compiled after each conference which drew out key cross-cutting themes from the discussion.

In addition, opinions gathered at all the conferences were used to feed into an over-arching policy document relating to robotics research development. These findings were widely disseminated, for example to the policy departments of relevant government bodies and learned institutions, and made available to relevant existing networks, giving the students and roboticists a chance to have their opinions heard.

Download the Project summary.

Parliamentary seminar

On Tuesday 9 March 2010 a group of young people from across the UK travelled to the Houses of Parliament to showcase their opinions about the future of robotics.

Students discussed the main areas where they see robotics research having an impact in the future, including medicine, the military and in the home. They also expressed specific concerns about robotic technologies, including human replacement, trust, reliability and safety, and affordability.

Download a Summary of the students' discussions.