The N8 universities host a number of world-class facilities for conducting research into Robotics and Autonomous Systems, all the way from design, through manufacturing to field testing.

Virtual Engineering Centre

Virtual engineering

Located at the STFC laboratories at Daresbury, the University of Liverpool-led Virtual Engineering Centre delivers innovative Virtual Engineering solutions to industry, through the exploitation of academic research and the latest scientific and technological infrastructure, across the aerospace, automotive, energy and medical sectors

In partnership with the University of Liverpool’s Centre for Autonomous Systems and Technology (CAST), the VEC has a strong track-record in delivering on research such as the development of interactive virtual-reality simulations of patients’ hearts for pre-operative planning and working with aerospace companies to develop certification standards that will allow UAVs to operate more widely in civilian airspace.

 Visit the VEC

EPRSC National Facility for Innovative Robotic Systems


The £4.3 million National Facility gives researchers and industrial partners access to a suite of technologies for robot design and construction that is among the most advanced in the world.  Organised around three core strengths, multidisciplinary teams of engineers, scientists and clinicians are able to develop novel robotic systems and the underpinning technologies needed to improve people’s lives.

  • Additive Manufacture:  Combining components to make functional devices through 3D printing and laser welding systems
  • Subtractive Manufacture: Removing material from a structure to create form through laser cutting, milling and lathing
  • Assembly and Testing: Bringing components together to create a functional machine through the 3D visualisation suite, communications testbed, and robotic assembly cell
Visit the Centre

Dalton Cumbrian Facility

Dalton Cumbrian Facility (DCF) provides state-of-the-art facilities for research in radiation science and nuclear engineering decommissioning for the University of Manchester’s Dalton Nuclear Institute and users nationally.  Situated at Westlakes Science and Technology Park the Facility allows academic access to the active research facilities within National Nuclear Laboratory Central Laboratory on the Sellafield site.

One of DCF’s specialist research areas, Nuclear Engineering Decommissioning, is particularly relevant for RAS, focussing on 4 research goals:

  • Enhancing the performance of tele-operated devices such as manipulators and remote operated vehicles
  • Increasing the ability of semi-autonomous systems and proving their capability for use in nuclear environments
  • Imaging hazardous facilities, and gathering and interpreting quantitative geometric data
  • Identifying and developing key technologies that could represent a step change in decommissioning activities
 Visit the DCF

Field Testing Facilities

Field Robotics Facility

Sheffield Robotics hosts a suite of Field Robotics Facilities, including 2 indoor flying spaces large enough for multiple drones and ground vehicles, and a 12 acre rural facility with control centre, laboratory space and excellent access, 15 minutes from The University of Sheffield. The Field Robotics Facilities are available to academic and industry partners for research, development and testing of robotics and autonomous systems for outdoor applications.

 Visit Sheffield Robotics