Milton Keynes shopping centre fills with robots from all over Europe this week

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They can perform a multitude of tasks, including opening doors, packing shopping and waving hello

The city’s shopping centre is filled with robots from all over the Europe this week as the Milton Keynes Smart City Robotics Competition launches.

Taking place in Middleton Hall, the free event features demonstrations and talks about how robots can solve a range of challenges in everyday human life.

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Teams will be competing live to show which bots are best at task such asdelivering coffee orders, opening a door, taking an elevator, picking and packing shopping or fetching an item.

People can go and watch robots performing at centre:mk in a major European competition this weekPeople can go and watch robots performing at centre:mk in a major European competition this week
People can go and watch robots performing at centre:mk in a major European competition this week

The European Robotics League and partners centre:mk and Milton Keynes Council have come together to commission the competition, which has attracted entries from universities, colleges, companies and laboratories across Europe.

Running from today (Monday) to Thursday September 21, it showcases the latest developments in consumer-facing robot technology, and illustrates how some of the most basic human actions continue to challenge some of the most advanced robotic minds in Europe.

The European Robotics League is maintained by euRobotics, the European robotics association for industry and research. It was set up by the SciRoc project, funded by the EU’s Horizon 2020 Programme.

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The Milton Keynes Smart City Robotics Competition builds on the success of previous competitions under the SciRoc project, including a Smart City event in Milton Keynes in 2019 and Bologna, Italy in 2021.

Kevin Duffy, Director of centre:mk, commented: “As one of the UK's fastest-growing Smart Cities, Milton Keynes serves as an ideal backdrop for this international event. Innovation and collaboration sit at the heart of this competition, which we hope, will inspire future generations to think of robotics as a positive force for good. Whilst robots are able to help humans build a more efficient future, they are no replacement for people - and never will be but they can support and aid our society making it a more accessible and efficient place for all.”

Leader of Milton Keynes City Council, Cllr Pete Marland said: “International events like this give us the chance to showcase local talent and demonstrate to the world that we’re a modern, forward-thinking smart city with endless opportunities. We’re really excited to be a host city and look forward to showing industry experts the cutting-edge research and development taking place in MK.”

The competition forms part of the centre and the city’s smart city focus,with MK looking to host the first UK Smart City Experience Centre later in the year. The first Global Safety Summit was also announced by the UK government in August 2023, to be hosted by Bletchley Park on November 1 and November 2.

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This major global event will bring together international governments, leading AI companies and experts in research for crucial talks that will explore and build consensus on international action in the hope of advancing the safety of AI technology.

A Smart City Robotics Panel Discussion comprised of leading industry and academic figures will also come together at Milton Keynes’ Unity Place from 6pm – 8pm on 20th September. Chaired by Professor Phil Webb of Cranfield University, the panellists will provide their insight and experience on the symbiotic relationship between robotics and smart cities.

For more information, visit here.

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