The Alan Turing Institute has joined forces with three Japanese research centres as part of a pioneering plan to bolster Britain and Japan’s robotics and artificial intelligence research.
The partnerships, which the Turing has been tasked with leading, come as governments around the world attempt to keep pace with Chinese and US investment in burgeoning fields of technology.
Theresa May faced criticism following the Brexit vote for failing to do enough to protect the UK’s reputation as the European capital for AI research, especially in light of manoeuvres by French president Emmanuel Macron.
But the government will be hoping the UK-Japanese partnership will help to restore confidence in its approach to emerging technologies in the run up to the UK’s departure from the European Union.
Commenting on the announcement, Sethu Vijayakumar, AI lead at the Alan Turing Institute, said: “Japan is renowned for its world-leading work in robotics, and the UK, given its established excellence in artificial intelligence research, is well-placed to collaborate and bring together these two exciting research communities.
“Through this initiative, we will address several machine learning and data science challenges arising from and towards deployment of robotics and autonomous systems and AI technologies for solving socially relevant problems across domains. Focus on ensuring ethical, safe, verifiable and secure systems will form a key backbone, areas which Turing scientists provide proven leadership.”
The Turing, which is the UK’s national institute for data science and AI, will partner with Japan’s National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, National Institute of Informatics and the RIKEN Center for Advanced Intelligence Project.
A spokesperson for the Turing confirmed there was no government funding attached to the partnerships, but the UK and Japan has committed £10m to a joint partnership on healthcare and £20m on developing robots to carry out tasks too dangerous for humans.
The institute has also recently struck partnerships with organisations in France, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, the US, Finland and Singapore.
Commenting on the broader UK-Japan partnership, the digital and culture secretary, Jeremy Wright, added: “The UK is a world leader in AI and data and the unrivalled tech hub of Europe. By working closely with a country at the cutting-edge of AI like Japan, we can make sure we remain global leaders in developing tomorrow’s technology to boost investment, grow our economy, improve people’s lives, and support our long term plan for the NHS.”