‘Why your first robot might speak with a Scottish accent’


(c) http://longisland.madscience.org

‘Robotics is hot right now and as a world-renowned robotics hub, Scotland is at the forefront of innovation in this industry.’

The above headline and the quote were posted on Conference News on the 17th February 2017.

We all know Dundee has been awarded the title of ‘Top Technology City’ but it doesn’t stop there. Scotland, it seems is a ‘robotics hub’ too. Here’s an extract from the conference announcement

‘Robotics is an exciting sector for Scotland, showcasing our innovation centres and excellence in research and manufacture. This latest talk will shine a light on some of the outstanding developments being pioneered right here in Scotland. The potential growth for conferences and events in this area is particularly exciting. Next month the European Robotics Forum – considered the most influential meeting of the European robotics community – takes place in Edinburgh. With robotics set to have a worldwide economic impact of $1.7 to $4.5 trillion annually by 2025, associated business events in this area could prove to be very good news for all of us working in the meetings industry.’

Perhaps even more encouraging is the suggestion that Scotland is a particularly welcoming country in more than one sense for those who want to work in the field of robotics from Dr Kasim Terzic of the University of St Andrew’s:

‘Scotland has a number of world-class universities, an excellent reputation in Computer Science and Robotics and good career prospects. I also find it a great place to live, with excellent infrastructure, amazing nature and a very welcoming population.’



5 thoughts on “‘Why your first robot might speak with a Scottish accent’

  1. Contrary February 21, 2017 / 11:38 pm

    Really? Who would have guessed? I had no idea Scotland was a robotics hub, research and manufacture? Where I wonder? This is very exciting. I am not sure if it is as exciting as a space launch site (if we get one), but possibly more exciting than Glasgow university being involved in the detection of gravity waves (though their actual detection is, of course, a lot more exciting). This is very good news indeed, and for once I actually followed the link you gave. I was a bit concerned about the motivations of visitscotland when the first paragraph mentioned things like prime minister, post-Brexit strategy and a robot show in London, so I checked out Rory Archibald’s (of VisitScotland) LinkedIn page & Twitter. My goodness he is enthusiastic about promoting Scotland. So even if he is a raving brexiteering unionist, he does appear genuine about doing good things for Scotland. Of course, I found this information online, so it may be fake.

    I gave my wee brother a little robot kit just last month, it took a lot of searching for because they are very expensive, and I had to try and learn a bit about how they work so I didn’t get any old rubbish (I wanted a spider bot, but extra legs are very expensive, it is the servos, apparently, that cost, so it just had 4 legs – still really cool though), but didn’t want to just get parts in case he wasn’t that interested. I had to find out what an Arduino controller was as well, to find out if I needed one. I was quite shocked at how much the professional robots cost, a few thousand to many thousand, but they have moving arms with pincers and cameras and all sorts. Very cool. Arduino is a brand name but also a universally used basic programming language for robotics.

    There was a documentary a while ago, a few years maybe, about artificial intelligence – they are developing it using robots in France (just one route being investigated). The theory being that you need the complexities of movement and speech to enable intelligent thought, and these robots were developing their own language. Intriguing.

    I would love to see robotics being developed enough to produce affordable & advanced artificial limbs.

    I am not sure what ‘worldwide economic impact’ means? And VisitScotland seems more interested in the conferences it could host than the industry itself (well, I suppose that is logical; they want people to visit!).

    The gravity wave detection project found gravity waves a year ago, but for those that missed the breaking news, here is a link:


    As a reminder: gravity, as a force, is still a big mystery and they cannot fit it into the theory of (not-so) everything: the Standard Model. One thing I like about the gravity wave project is that it involved such a large number of people across so many countries, including Scotland. True collaboration!


  2. Contrary February 22, 2017 / 9:27 am

    Can I ramble on a little bit more? I don’t like to overwhelm, and I am aware that the general readership here are not going to be interested in gravity waves, but I will try and make it relevant, honestly.

    There is a bigger project than the Earth-based one mentioned above (LIGO) that is far more exciting, and it is the European space agency (ESA) that are leading it, called the LISA Pathfinder. Gravity waves have huge wavelengths (of many kilometres) and that means to detect them you have to measure tiny nanometre-scale fluctuations over huge distances – the best place to do this is in space. It is hard to describe all the benefits of being able to detect, measure and use gravity waves – the potentials are huge. Did you know that we don’t actually KNOW that black holes exist? They are talked about so much, you would think so, but they are still only theoretical. Gravity waves of certain wavelengths imply their existence.

    The pathfinder project launched a trial satellite in 2015 to check feasibility. Effectively the plan is to have several satellites flying in formation, trailing behind the Earth at a stable Lagrange point, maintaining precise relative positions to each other, to an accuracy of picometres over distances of hundreds, thousands, of kilometres. Any ripples in space time, which might be a nanometre (on the scale of a proton), can then be measured. They will use lasers, and (very) precise optical instruments, being developed in Glasgow, to achieve this. Again, a lot of international collaboration, which is always good to see. They hope to have results by 2034 I think, here is a link to the website:


    If Scotland could get a space launch site, all these satellites could be sent from here, and this is just one project. The potential for Scotland to be a centre for innovative research, and development of these technologies (expensive ones), and, of course, space tourism is quite large.

    On other actual (?) news from Radio Scotland – they haven’t mentioned gravity waves ONCE! – some whining about new business rates (I don’t really understand financial stuff), some scepticism over the report brought out by amnesty international re leading political figures should be more responsible about how they speak about refugees etc & not encourage hate & discrimination, an attempt to stir up trouble about the Scottish child abuse enquiry (but also interviewing Mr Swinney who tried to allay the fears), outrageously promoting a study that claims 85% of scientific research is not reproducible (one of the main criteria that defines the research to be scientific) which sounds like total bollocks to me, but haven’t had time to investigate. Personally, I am not going to believe any presenters that don’t even know the difference between a noun and an adjective (‘female’ and ‘male’ are ADJECTIVES, they should be used to DESCRIBE a noun, but are used by the BBC as nouns, and it enrages me), but most people are not going to bother about this and probably that information, that relays ‘science is rubbish’, is now in people’s minds. Simple things like that cause harm to the promotion of STEM subjects – if they are ignorant of something they should not be allowed to report on it! Or even, if they don’t know the difference between an adjective and a noun, they should find a different job. I didn’t particularly enjoy the news this morning, and the weather is going to be rubbish too.


  3. johnrobertson834 February 22, 2017 / 3:43 pm

    Wow Contrary! lot’s of info there. I feel sure readers will be interested as I was.


    • Contrary February 22, 2017 / 7:42 pm

      Thank you John, you are far too kind – I know how most people react to my over-enthusiastic renditions on science, and it isn’t usually with interest! 🙂 got to keep trying though.

      I think I am just trying to put across that there is a lot going on that we barely hear about and that the economy is not just based on big industry, maybe put context into probably not-well-understood complaints from universities about funding and enabling international exchange – it really is important even if it does not directly affect people’s day-to-day lives.


      • johnrobertson834 February 22, 2017 / 7:47 pm

        Not at all. I agree with you and you have knowledge few of us have. If some find it too long so what. Some will read it. Water on stone.


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