Robo-farming assistants among new gov-funded science projects

The government has pledged £113 million to support nearly 100 UK science schemes, including a project that would see four-legged robots assist British farmers.

Other projects include developing new types of therapy to treat chronic conditions like Chrohn’s disease.

Dr Dimitrios Kanoulas from University College London will lead the RoboHike project to give autonomous robots the ability to navigate through difficult terrain, including in construction and agriculture, as well as at the scene of natural disasters.

Another project, led by Dr Yujiang Wang at Newcastle University will use long-term brain recordings, combined with wearable environmental sensors, to capture and analyse fluctuations in epileptic seizures.

The project’s aim is to gain a better understanding of how seizure activity and severity varies case by case and will enable Wang’s team to forecast the severity of upcoming seizures for individual patients, as well as developing future treatments that may reduce their severity.

“We are putting science and innovation at the heart of our efforts to build back better from the pandemic, empowering our scientific leaders of tomorrow to drive forward game-changing research that could improve all our lives and boost the UK economy,” said science minister Amanda Solloway. “Supported by £113 million, the Future Leaders Fellowships will equip our most inventive scientists and researchers across the country with the tools to develop and bring their innovations to market quickly - all while helping to secure the UK’s status as a global science superpower.”

Delivered through UK Research and Innovation’s (UKRI) flagship Future Leaders Fellowships scheme – which aims to establish the careers of the next generation British scientists – the investment will enable researchers at universities and businesses to progress their studies quickly by funding essential equipment and paying for researcher wages.

“I am delighted that UKRI is able to support the next generation of research and innovation leaders through our Future Leaders Fellowship programme.

“The new Fellows announced today will have the support and freedom they need to pursue their research and innovation ideas, delivering new knowledge and understanding and tackling some of the greatest challenges of our time,” said UKRI chief executive, professor Dame Ottoline Leyser.

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