Robotics and Autonomous Systems will transform our lives. Oxford should be at the vanguard of this endeavour. There is no debate that the machines are coming, that RAS is a national strategic priority, or that Oxford is perfectly poised to secure a durable leadership position in the area.
We have now set out how Oxford can create, run and exploit a world-leading Institute for Robotics and Autonomous systems. We should call it the Oxford Robotics Institute – ORI.
We explain why this is important to the Nation and our University, how it can happen, what it will do, sets out its structure, and points out what opportunities and impact arise from it.
The truth is, we need to build better robots: we need them to be cheap, work synergistically with people in large, complex and time-changing environments, and do so for long periods of time. Moreover, it is essential that they are safe and trusted. We are compelled as researchers to produce the foundational technologies that will see robots work in economically and socially important domains.
This cannot be a purely technical endeavour. The Oxford Robotics Institute will address fundamental technical, ethical, social, and economic issues, which impede large scale commercial and societal adoption of mobile robotics. The profound interdisciplinary of RAS especially when considered in the context of users, bystanders, and doubters makes for a rare opportunity to leverage and fuse global expertise from across Oxford’s Academic Divisions.