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Led by the University of York, the York Global Initiative for Safe Autonomy will tackle the challenge of developing and enabling safe autonomous technology in order to achieve an enriched, healthier and more sustainable society.

Stakeholder consultation event for the York Global Initiative for Safe Autonomy

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"Our broad, integrated approach will be a galvanising force at the heart of a strong global research and innovation ecosystem dedicated to the safety of autonomy."

Professor Jon Timmis, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Partnerships and Knowledge Exchange (Strategic Project Lead)

The challenge

The world is experiencing an unprecedented period of technological advancement that will have a profound impact on human society.

The benefits will be huge. The introduction of advanced autonomous systems and next generation communication systems will reduce the need for people to work in dangerous environments, transform transport, improve productivity and help deliver better social and medical care.

However, rapid advancement comes with risks: the risk that technology is adopted before it is ready, the risk that communications are compromised due to insufficient security and the risk that safety standards fail to keep up with the pace of innovation.

As technology continues to develop, it is essential that the highest levels of safety and security are in place. Tackling this challenge is a critical priority which requires concentrated interdisciplinary research and innovation.

Our approach

York has been at the forefront of research into safety-critical systems for over 30 years and has recently launched the Assuring Autonomy International Programme. This expertise is complemented by leadership of the UK Quantum Technology Hub for Quantum Communications Technologies and an extensive portfolio of research in advanced communications and hardware and software co-design.

Building on this track record, the Safe Autonomy Initiative will establish an international community of industry, academic, regulatory and policy-making expertise to address challenging questions including:

  • How do we safely design the robotic and autonomous systems of the future?
  • How can we better understand the risks, benefits and training environment required for people operating and working alongside autonomous systems?
  • How can quantum and other forms advanced communication technology help to achieve safe and secure communications for autonomous systems?
  • How should we approach the challenging ethical, legal and societal implications of a rapid uptake of autonomous technology?
  • How can we work with industry to overcome the safety and assurance barriers that inhibit the uptake of beneficial autonomous technology?

Assuring Autonomy International Programme

This £12m programme, in partnership with the Lloyd's Register Foundation spearheads research, training and standards in the safety of robotics and autonomous systems.

Quantum Communications Hub

Led by the University of York, the £24m programme aims to deliver quantum communications systems that will enable secure transactions and transmissions of data across a range of users in real-world applications.

York Robotics Laboratory

The York Robotics Laboratory is a dedicated experimental and teaching space for research, teaching and outreach, supporting UKRI research grants in excess of £6 million.

Building a global partnership

The Safe Autonomy Initiative will work with a broad cross-section of industrial partners to develop trustworthy technology that has strong commercial potential. The Initiative will build an integrated industrial and policy engagement network which will provide access to:

  • collaborative research and development
  • independent technical expertise
  • funding opportunities
  • professional development in the design and deployment of autonomous systems
  • events and workshops to promote peer to peer networking
  • access to high quality graduate and postgraduate students
  • an ecosystem for business incubation and acceleration

A planned new specialist building will provide access to advanced facilities for research and testing.

Get in touch

If you are interested in colocation and other opportunities for partnership, please contact us to discuss requirements.

Paul Tyack, Head of Institutional Philanthropy (Project Manager)