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Robot Footballers Celebrate Long Awaited Increase in UK Robot Sales

Dr Ken Young with Robots
Dr Ken Young with Robots

Originally published 26 January 2004

Figures just released by the British Automation and Robot Association (BARA) based at the University of Warwick for UK robot sales in 2003show that for the first time in three years there is an upward trend in the numbers of robots sold in the UK. To celebrate this long awaited upturn BARA will be organising a national student robot football tournament.

While this is undoubtedly a cause for some celebration it merely reflects how bad the 2002 was. With just over 800 units sold last year (up from 750 in the previous year) this is still one third down on the record year of 2000 when over 1200 robot units were sold into manufacturing.

University of Warwick researcher and BARA head Dr Ken Young does however draw some optimistic conclusions from the figures. “Over the last four years the biggest application area for robots has become materials handling rather than spot welding’ he says. This shows that industries other than automotive are starting to realise the benefits of the technology. "

Dr Young also believes that the robot technology has become extremely cost effective. He says: “The greatly reduced price of robots is allowing their economic use for very simple tasks where they can work reliably and without rest. Simple four axis systems for small part assembly are now available starting at £12k and even six axis units capable of handling 125Kg are available for only £25k. This means that even after full integration into a cell systems are selling for between £50-100k. The reliability of these machines is phenomenal. Well installed robots can go over 5 years between breakdowns.

In celebration of this long awaited good news of an upturn in Robot sales BARA and the University of Warwick are running a National Student Robot football competition in 2004. This will be held at the University of Warwick’s International Manufacturing Centre on the 5th and 6th of April. Games will be played to the FIRA Mirosot rules by teams of three robots (link text). Dr Young says: “All of the real world control problems of industrial robots exist in this game. It gives students an ideal platform on which to build solutions.

The teams are made up of very high calibre students and they are limited by the budgets available to them rather than by their capabilities. The University of Warwick’s own team ‘Evolution’ (Click here for team web site) have a budget of less than £1000 per annum. As a result very small amounts of sponsorship from companies wishing to show their interest in robotics can make a real difference to both the individual teams and the competition as a whole – any potential sponsors should contact Dr Young.

Already there are three University robot football teams entered including Plymouth who have represented Great Britain at the last three world cup competitions. The winners will go on to represent Great Britain at the European championships to be held in Germany later this year.

For further information please contact:

Dr Ken Young,
University of Warwick
024 76 522764
mobile 07775 534345