Robot Dexterity

Backed by £57m, this programme aims to transform robotic capabilities and unlock a step change in human productivity

Why this programme

Breakthroughs in AI are transforming robotic abilities, but compared to staggering advances in computation, the development of robot bodies has stalled in recent decades. Today, robots cannot achieve the flexibility, speed and precision of human manipulation, rendering them useless for many of the difficult or dangerous tasks where we need them most.

The need to improve robot dexterity comes at a critical time. The proportion of the world’s population aged 65+ is set to triple by 2100, while labour deficits for physically demanding work are set to increase.

Robots have the potential to ease these labour shortages and boost prosperity but to do so we must close the gap between what robots and humans can handle.

What we’re shooting for

We’re looking to fund an array of cutting-edge research across robotic hardware and advanced simulation to demonstrate a paradigm-shift in robotic abilities. 

Our goal: to release the bottlenecks in robotic dexterity and create vastly more capable and useful machines. 

This programme is split into four technical areas (TAs), each with its own distinct objectives.

Apply for funding (TA1)

This solicitation seeks R&D Creators, individuals and teams that ARIA will fund to: 

  • Create one or more novel robotic manipulators, demonstrating a dexterous ability that far exceeds what’s possible today or likely to be achieved by existing approaches; substantial improvements over the status quo in both performance and robustness, while not introducing any deal breakers in terms of cost, size, infrastructure or scalability. 
  • Develop new techniques for designing robotic hardware and control software.
  • Produce advances in relevant technologies such as actuation and haptic sensing.

Concept paper deadline: 24 July 2024 (12:00 BST)

We’re currently looking for concept papers for this call – please read the full call for proposals [PDF] before submitting.

Concept papers are designed to make the solicitation process as efficient as possible for applicants. By soliciting short concept papers (no more than three pages), ARIA reviewers are able to gauge the feasibility and relevance of the proposed project and give an initial indication of whether we think a full proposal would be competitive.

You will be able to submit a full proposal from 16 August to 19 September 2024.

Meet Jenny

Robot Dexterity has been designed and overseen by Programme Director Jenny Read with feedback from the R&D community, as part of the opportunity space Smarter Robot Bodies. 

Jenny is a visual neuroscientist, previously trained in theoretical astrophysics. Her work focuses on how we can build smarter bodies for robots through new modes of sensing, transmission of sensory information, and actuation through hardware advances. Jenny joined ARIA from her role as Professor of Vision Science at Newcastle University.

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