CenFRA wins industry funding for robotics

Related tags Regional development agency Sheffield hallam university Sheffield

CenFRA wins industry funding for robotics
CenFRA, the UK's pioneering centre for food robotics and automation, has received industry funding to expand its role into an independent food and beverage automation consultancy.

CenFRA was established by Yorkshire Forward regional development agency in 2007 as a not-for-profit business. It says its new independent financial status will now allow it to expand its remit and provide cutting edge manufacturing automation advice to food and drinks companies in the UK and internationally.

It hopes to be able to announce a new commercial partner soon and has received outline approval to manage a £2.1M European Development Fund programme. This should help small food and drink firms in Yorkshire and Humberside to invest in automation and robotics.

While CenFRA will concentrate on helping food firms find available robotic and automation solutions, a new robotics research centre has been launched by the University of Sheffield and Sheffield Hallam University to develop animal-like robots that can work alongside humans.

The Sheffield Centre for Robotics, SCentRO, will showcase a range of new robot devices including GRAIL, the first low-cost robotic arm developed specifically for the food industry. SCentRO's aim is to have a prototype GRAIL robot assembling sandwiches at Samworth Brothers' Bradgate factory in Leicester by the end of the year.

Other developments in hand at SCentRO include Shrewbot, an animal-like robot that can seek out and identify objects using artificial whiskers. SCentRO's aim is to develop robots that are flexible and safe, but with human-like sensory and learning capabilities to allow them to work much more closely with people.

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