Robotics and Autonomous Systems: Shaping the Future of Scotland

Robotics and autonomous systems represent important opportunities to achieve greater productivity, learn additional skills, create better workplaces and improve the workers’ well-being. Nonetheless, robotics and autonomous improvements can represent societal challenges. 

The report Robotics and Autonomous Systems: shaping the future of Scotland outlines the steps taken by Scotland towards implementing these technologies in different economic sectors. The country is looking actively to grasp an important market share of the market. According to the International Federation of Robotics (IFR) the annual turnover of the robotics sector is approximately USD 50 billion, including associated software and systems engineering. 

The intelligent application of robotics and autonomous systems offer new opportunities for Scotland across a range of key sectors including manufacturing, agriculture, construction, healthcare and the energy sector. SMEs can improve their productivity across many sectors. For example, the renewable energy sector can be expanded and assisted with safer use of robots for the inspection and maintenance of offshore structures. 

In terms of research, Scotland has already taken several steps forward. There are several research ventures around the country like the Edinburgh Centre for Robotics, the UK’s first National Robotarium, Space Mechatronic Systems Technology Laboratory, Data Lab Innovation Centre, the Construction Scotland Innovation Centre (CSIC), the Offshore Robotics and Certification of Assets (ORCA) Hub2, and the Digital Factory 2050, among others. 

Robotics and autonomous systems lead to societal challenges

People feel threatened and confused for the future deployment of robotics and autonomous systems. The main concerns are related to labour substitution, up-skilling, retraining current workforce and scepticism for new standards of living. 

According to a study by PwC, the first economic sectors impacted are data-driven such as finance, and at a later phase, manual tasks such as construction. It is anticipated that over 800 000 jobs in Scotland could be impacted both by machine intelligence and robotics. However, new technologies require new skills and potential opportunities for other types of jobs. PwC estimates a potential net increase of 15 000 jobs by 2037.

By Maria Paula Ar…