The Oxford Robotics Institute (Department of Engineering Science, University of Oxford) is to put a team of robots to the test at Blenheim as part of a new joint initiative.

Ranging from driverless cars to legged robots, the Oxfordshire UNESCO World Heritage Site will be used as a proving ground for a range of robotic platforms over the coming months.

Initially a specially-adapted ORI Range Rover, developed in collaboration with Jaguar Land Rover, will drive around the tracks of High Park – home to the greatest collection of ancientoak trees in Europe.

The Range Rover is equipped with vision and Lidar sensors which will allow ORI to gather data in an off-road forestry environment. This will be used to test algorithms for localisation and perception for autonomy in challenging environments. The data will also provide a valuable source of information to those researching the ancient woodland. The plan is to trial other robotic platforms; including legged robots within different areas of the Estate.

It is hoped the new collaboration between the University of Oxford and Blenheim will also provide a unique chance for cutting-edge STEM education and outreach work to be carried out within a hugely historic environment.Jointly the aim is to increase awareness of Robotics and AI to society in general and also to provide Blenheim Palace visitors with a greater understanding of this fascinating and fastgrowing technological sector.

“This is an extremely exciting opportunity for Blenheim to support the Oxford Robotics Institute who are at the forefront of developing technology and it marks the beginning of a much closer relationship between ourselves and University of Oxford” said Roy Cox, Head of Estates at Blenheim.

The Oxford Robotics Institute enjoys a world leading reputation in mobile autonomy, developing machines and robots which map, navigate through and understand their environments.

Professor Paul Newman, director of ORI, said: “The ORI’s collaboration with Blenheim represents the opportunity to join the old with the new, to run and represent in juxtaposition much of what’s great about Oxfordshire’s history and its future. Great robots in a great place.”