Leeds is hoping to become robot capital of UK

Florence Grace Bradley making robots at The Corn Exchange in Leeds as part of family robot-making activities. Picture by Tim Smith.
Florence Grace Bradley making robots at The Corn Exchange in Leeds as part of family robot-making activities. Picture by Tim Smith.
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THEY turned up in droves with unwanted technical equipment and cardboard to help build a massive robot as part of an exciting child friendly workshop.

For youngsters across Leeds and beyond, making robots is all the rage.

And with the opening of a £4.3m robotics facility at the University of Leeds and a year-long creative project March of the Robots being held, Leeds is forging a reputation as the robot-friendly capital of Britain.

Organisers of the workshop at Leeds Corn Exchange on Monday were delighted with the turnout. A spokesperson said: “We urged young helpers create a mini robot and then add it to the giant robot creation as it gets bigger and bigger and bigger. They created a monster sized robot in the basement of the city centre building.”

The free event was led by artists Howard Bradley and Mark Haig.

The ‘mission lab’ was part of the year-long project March of the Robots, organised by Playful Leeds and supported by Child Friendly Leeds.

More activities are taking place during Easter and throughout the year until a big robot party on October 26.

It is running workshops and activities so people of all ages can make a robot.

Emma Bearman is heading the initiative and has invited the public to get involved.

She explained that Playful Leeds seeks to connect the dots between business, academia, public agencies, third sector and the people: “Over this period a great many people have become involved in thinking about the city we live in and how they’d like to play more.”

She said the March of the Robots was launched with an online campaign to fund a bid to bring a 1950s robot, Cygan, back to Leeds. It went up for auction at Christie’s last year.

“We were interested in Cygan because it’s a great talking point to get people thinking about robots and what that means to them,” said Emma.

Dr Robert Richardson is head of the new robotics facility at the University of Leeds. The new facility will be the national centre for robotic research, and will put Leeds on the map as world leader in the field of robotics.

Dr Richardson said: “Robotics is just coming into its own, and I think it’s going to impact on all our lives. With computers getting smaller and faster, robots can do things like visually perceive much easier than they could before.”

“It gives Leeds a national strength, and we hope companies will open up locally in order to work with us.” More details at www.marchoftherobots.com.

Tony Burdin, chief executive of Sheffield Mutual Friendly Society

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