Robotic dog joins the University of Buckingham School of Computing

22 June 2021

Harin Sellahewa crouched with robot dogThe University of Buckingham has a new robotic dog that is not only helping Computing students to be at the forefront of robotics and artificial intelligence but which, is also going to be used in collaboration with businesses and local organisations.

The School of Computing secured a £1.6 million Local Growth Fund grant from the Buckinghamshire Local Enterprise Partnership to establish an Innovation and Incubation Hub focusing on AI, Robotics, Cybersecurity and Immersive Technologies. The University is match funding the grant bringing the total investment in Computing to £3.2 million.

The project has six key strategic aims:

  1. To equip graduates with specialist digital skills by creating new programmes specialising in Artificial Intelligence, Robotics, Cloud Computing, Cyber Security, and Immersive Technologies, and embedding cultural awareness, ethics, enterprise and leadership skills in all its graduates as core competencies necessary to work in industries of the futures.
  2. To train a generation of specialists and doctoral students in artificial intelligence, robotics, augmented/virtual reality, computer vision, data science, internet of things, machine learning and cybersecurity.
  3. Promote Life-long-learning to reskill and upskill to work in rapidly changing environments
  4. To inspire the next generation, particularly women, to study computing at school and embark on a career in Tech.
  5. To nurture the next generation of spin-off companies; commercialising research and innovation and contributing to local and regional economic growth.
  6. To support the productivity of Buckinghamshire’s priority sectors; exchanging knowledge to support the delivery of Buckinghamshire’s Local Industrial Strategy. To share the benefits as widely as possible and generate lasting economic value for Buckinghamshire.

As part of this overall project, the School of Computing has acquired several robots for teaching, research and collaboration with external organisations. The Boston Dynamics Spot is one of the most advanced autonomous robots in the world, and Buckingham’s Computing students are amongst the few lucky ones that will get to use it in their learning, and as part of projects and research. Moreover, the School will collaborate with external organisations to develop new use cases for Spot.

Dr Harin Sellahewa, Dean of Faculty of Computing, Law and Psychology, said: “We want our students to be designing the next generation of robots and innovative applications that use robots. Our region is home to innovators in motor racing, driverless cars, robotics and satellites, to whom we can provide the graduates with digital skills. We are talking with a number of local organisations to see if Spot can be used in collaboration with them on projects.”

Vice-Chancellor James Tooley added: “We are pioneers at the University of Buckingham. Our students are pushing the boundaries and looking for new ways to do things to help develop robots and autonomous systems as part of the wider developments in AI in this region which are already taking place. Spot the Dog will offer invaluable first-hand, practical experience.”

Richard Harrington, CEO of Buckinghamshire Local Enterprise commented: “Buckinghamshire Local Enterprise Partnership is investing £1.6m of Local Growth Funds into the University of Buckingham’s new centre for Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Innovation. This investment will help to address the gap in the academic application and ethical research into the use AI. The opportunities provided by the application of AI is of growing importance growth to Buckinghamshire businesses and we are looking forward to supporting the University in helping work collaboratively in this field with entrepreneurial businesses and particularly with those located at our rapidly growing Enterprise Zone sites at Silverstone and Wescott.”