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Professor Jonathan Rossiter announced as one of RAE’s Chair in Emerging Technologies

Jonathan Rossiter, Professor of Soft Robotics

Press release issued: 11 April 2018

Jonathan Rossiter, Professor of Robotics at the University of Bristol has been appointed as one of the Royal Academy of Engineering Chairs in Emerging Technologies to help ensure that the UK is a driving force for global technological innovation.

The ten Royal Academy of Engineering Chairs in Emerging Technologies will work on developing technologies from the development of bioelectronic therapies for damaged central nervous systems, to the rapid advancement of new battery technologies, and improved safety in robotics and AI.  All have the potential to bring significant economic and societal benefits to the UK.

Supported by the UK government's National Productivity Investment Fund, the Academy is committing £1.3 million to each of the ten-year programmes. The support provided to the Chairs in Emerging Technologies will enable these engineers to focus on advancing the novel technologies from basic research through to real deployment and commercialisation.

The areas of emerging technology covered by the Chairs reflect the UK's wider technology goals. Last year the government identified a number of priority areas of innovation for the UK, spanning healthcare, robotics, clean energy, driverless vehicles, materials of the future, and space technologies.

In recognition of the importance engineering will play in driving these areas of innovation, the government has provided the Royal Academy of Engineering with a significant increase in funding to support the translation of research to application. The Academy has previously only awarded two of these prestigious Chairs, making single awards in 2009 and 2012.  

The ten Chairs in Emerging Technologies and their projects are: 

  • Professor Ana Cavalcanti, University of York - Software Engineering for Robotics: modelling, validation, simulation, and testing
  • Dr Timothy Denison, University of Oxford - Brain engineering: towards closed-loop, non-invasive bioelectronic therapies for neurological disorders
  • Professor Brian Gerardot, Heriot-Watt University - Integrated two-dimensional classical and quantum photonics
  • Professor Alessio Lomuscio, Imperial College London - Trusted Learning-based Autonomous and Robotic Systems
  • Professor Colin McInnes MBE FREng FRSE, University of Glasgow - Royal Academy of Engineering Chair in Emerging Space Technologies
  • Professor Jason Reese FREng FRSE, University of Edinburgh - PYRAMID: a platform for multiscale design, from molecules to machines
  • Professor Susan Rosser, University of Edinburgh - Engineered cells for combined diagnostics and therapeutics (Theranostics)
  • Professor Jonathan Rossiter, University of Bristol - Smart materials and mechanisms for ubiquitous soft robotics
  • Professor Paul Shearing, UCL - Emerging Battery Technologies for Next Generation Energy Storage
  • Professor Sriram Subramanian, University of Sussex - Interactive Technologies Using Metamaterials

As part of their appointment, the Chairs will develop Centres of Excellence in their areas of emerging technology, building and maintaining contacts with industry and other partners to accelerate commercialisation. 

Professor Dame Ann Dowling OM DBE FREng FRS, President of the Royal Academy of Engineering, said: "Emerging technologies offer enormous opportunities for the UK, both economically and socially, but often their potential is not widely recognised until it is championed by a visionary individual. The ten researchers who have been appointed as Chairs in Emerging Technologies are global leaders in their fields, seeking to transform their pioneering ideas into fully commercialised technologies with important and widespread applications.

"The UK has a rich history of championing disruptive technologies – from the development of the steam engine to the invention of optical fibre communications. Early stage technologies offer enormous potential for the UK to continue this legacy and it's vital that we invest in both the technology, and the people behind it, to remain competitive in the global marketplace."

Jonathan Rossiter, Professor of Soft Robotics in Bristol's School of Computer Science, Electrical and Electronic Engineering, and Engineering Mathematics, and Bristol Robotics Laboratory (BRL), said: "I am honoured to have been appointed as one of the RAE's Chairs in Emerging Technologies. Over the course of the next two decades robotics are predicted to be used in much of our society.  This role will help the advancement of ubiquitous soft robotic technology, which has applications for manufacturing and consumer devices to medical applications and wearable technology, and help place Bristol as a national centre of expertise."

The ten Chairs were selected by a panel of Fellows of the Academy, led by AI and open data pioneer, Sir Nigel Shadbolt FREng FRS.

Further information

About the Royal Academy of Engineering
As the UK's national academy for engineering, we bring together the most successful and talented engineers for a shared purpose: to advance and promote excellence in engineering. We provide analysis and policy support to promote the UK’s role as a great place to do business. We take a lead on engineering education and we invest in the UK’s world-class research base to underpin innovation. We work to improve public awareness and understanding of engineering. We are a national academy with a global outlook.

We have three strategic challenges:

- Make the UK the leading nation for engineering innovation
- Address the engineering skills crisis
- Position engineering at the heart of society

About Bristol Robotics Laboratory (BRL)
Bristol Robotics Laboratory (BRL) is the most comprehensive academic centre for multidisciplinary robotics research in the UK. It is a collaborative partnership between the University of Bristol and the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol), and home to a vibrant community of over 200 academics, researchers and industry practitioners. Together, they are world leaders in current thinking on service robotics, intelligent autonomous systems and bio-engineering. An internationally recognised Centre of Excellence in Robotics, BRL’s state-of-the-art facilities cover an area of over 4,600 sq. metres (50,000 sq. feet).

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