Language, Interaction, and Robotics Impact

Examples of impact stemming from research conducted under the theme of Language, Interaction, and Robotics.

Intelligent warehousing

Researchers from IPAB have developed new approaches to dense visual mapping, shared autonomy and motion planning in robots. Partly funded by Hitachi, the company has since used the research to develop an integrated intelligent warehousing system in which a picking robot and automated guided vehicle can together pick items 40% faster than before.

Computer science education

Collaborative research between ILCC and the Universities of Glasgow and Abertay has brought about significant change in the Scottish school curriculum as it relates to computer science.  Teaching resources stemming from the research have reached over 650,000 pupils in 2,500 schools. In addition to the bring new skill sets to teachers and in turn their students, the research has informed public policy in Scotland more widely and begun to close the UK digital skills gap.

A toolkit for neural machine translation

Researchers from ILCC have developed Marian, a pioneering toolkit for neural machine translation (NMT). Marian incorporates a number of the team’s innovations in the field, including their influential work on byte pair encoding and back-translation techniques which together enhance the ability of NMT systems to include niche vocabulary and unusual words. Marian has been open source since 2016, and has been used by companies such as Microsoft and Lingo24, as well as laying the foundation for WIPO Translate, the software used by the UN’s WIPO agency for verifying patents.

Neural networks for speech-to-text transcription

ILCC researchers have developed novel neural network algorithms for automatic speech recognition, which have enabled speech recognition capabilities not previously available. Commercialised by Emotech and Quorate, the technology has resulted in a new AI assistance robot; improved workflows for the editors of Hansard, the UK’s official parliamentary record; and enabled Red Bee Media to improve the efficiency of their provision of subtitling services to customers including the BBC and Channel 4.

Speech-driven animation for “talking heads”

Research  in ILCC into speech-driven animation has resulted in a novel technology that enables lifelike computer-generated “talking heads” to be created using only an audio recording. The technology has been commercialised by Edinburgh spinout Speech Graphics, now a global leader in speech animation services to the video games industry.  Boasting nine out of the world’s top 10 games publishers as customers, the company has brought never-before-seen animation features to titles enjoyed by more than 400 million gamers, which have been lauded by games critics and professional gamers alike.


More detail of impact in other Informatics research themes can be found on the Research Impact page.

Informatics Research Impact