Construction work has begun at the UK’s Heriot- Watt University’s Edinburgh Campus to deliver the £22.4m National Robotarium.

Once constructed, the facility will  be the largest and most advanced of its type in the UK. it will be a centre of excellence for research work for robotics and artificial intelligence.

The National Robotarium will create solutions to global challenges using research, product design and industry collaboration.

It is being built by Robertson Construction. 

Robertson Construction Central East  managing director David Cairns said: “The National Robotarium building is designed to be as innovative as the research taking place within its walls. The commitment to sustainability and the wellbeing of its staff and students mean the facility will be equipped with state-of-the-art technology for energy efficiency and production and will boast considerable green space.

Professor Helen Hastie and Professor Yvan Petillot will be joint academic leads of the National Robotarium.

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Professor Hastie said: “By drawing upon the world-class talent of the staff at Heriot-Watt and our collaborative partner, the University of Edinburgh, alongside students at the Centre for Doctoral Training in Robotics and Autonomous Systems, the National Robotarium will form a centre of excellence for fundamental research and knowledge exchange to address real-world challenges and industry needs.

“The new building will facilitate a collaborative approach that is at the heart of the National Robotarium’s ethos, helping to accelerate research from laboratory to market and paving the way for the UK to take a leadership role in AI and robotics technology.”

The National Robotarium will serve as a collaboration centre between Heriot-Watt University and the University of Edinburgh.

The 40,000ft² building will accommodate three research and development areas, offering facilities for Robotics & Autonomous Systems (RAS), Human & Robotics Interaction (HRI) and High Precision Manufacturing.

Among the specialist equipment to feature include laser labs, an autonomous systems laboratory, and a living lab for trialling technology in a realistic home setting.

The National Robotarium is supported by £21 million from the UK Government, and £1.4m from the Scottish Government as part of the Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region Deal.

UK Government Minister for Scotland Iain Stewart said: “The creation of the UK’s first National Robotarium in Edinburgh will place Scotland at the forefront of a technological revolution that is changing the way we work.  

“This exciting new facility, supported by £21 million from the UK Government, will create opportunities for Scotland’s entrepreneurs and innovators, and bring jobs and prosperity to the entire region.

“The UK Government has now committed more than £1.5 billion to City Region and Growth Deals which will help communities to build back better from the pandemic.”


The National Robotarium will serve as a collaboration centre between Heriot-Watt University and the University of Edinburgh. Credit:  Heriot-Watt University