Dan Hook, Managing Director, ASV Global gives his unique views on the outcome of today’s budget announcement.
“The UK has always been a force to reckon with when it comes to new technological developments so it came as no surprise to me that science and innovation was one of the leading themes in today’s budget. It was even more telling of our time that robotics and artificial intelligence were handpicked as particular areas of technology to receive funding support. The Government announced that they’ll be pledging £270m “to put the UK at the forefront of disruptive technologies including robotics, biotech and driverless vehicle systems” (Source BBC).
Robotic and autonomous systems are no longer something we only see in science fiction. Over the past five to ten years robotics has spread beyond the military and R&D domains into commercial applications including science, survey and offshore energy. The accelerated rate of growth of the adoption and use of these systems has not only been down to industry – Government backing has played a huge role in bringing new concepts to life and enabling companies to bringing these new products to market.
As I see it, the biggest beneficiaries from Government funding is the up and coming companies, the companies that a few years ago were probably only one or two people in a garage, the newly emerging and rapidly growing SMEs.
I strongly believe that this renewed wave of support from Government will open up whole new avenues of opportunity for smaller companies. Funding support will give them the chance to test those new ideas that otherwise, they wouldn’t have been able to afford to do.
ASV Global had this very opportunity four years ago, we received funding to develop and manufacture a prototype long endurance ocean going robot. In doing this we developed a system that was not otherwise available in the market place, we were given the leading edge. Our new technology and the relationships we formed with the end users along the way meant that we were able to enter a new market space, one that we’d previously struggled to get into.
Since then we have received Innovate UK funding on a number of projects that are allowing us to push the boundaries of marine autonomy. We are midway through a project called ‘Unmanned Safe Maritime Operations Over The Horizon’ where we are developing the capability to not only operate, but safely operate unmanned and autonomous systems anywhere in the world from a control station on-land.
There is no doubt about it that the age of autonomy is here. The UK is ideally positioned to be a major player and its fantastic to see Government recognition of that. Maintaining our leading edge will depend on our ability to react and move quickly, this funding will help that enormously. The technology is here in the UK, we just need to make sure we harvest and exploit it properly.”
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