TWO Scottish universities have been given just over £6 million of UK Government funding for research in the field of robotics and autonomous systems.

Heriot-Watt University and the University of Edinburgh will used the money to develop a research centre in the capital.

Robotics and autonomous systems have the potential for use across a broad range of sectors, from oil and gas production to prosthetic limbs.

The funding is part of a wider £85 million investment in technologies.

David Willetts, Minister for Universities and Science, has revealed funding will be made available to more than 20 UK universities to support and strengthen research in the areas of robotics and autonomous systems, advanced materials and grid-scale energy storage.

Professor David Lane, of Heriot-Watt University, said: "Robotics has the potential to create breakthroughs in oil and gas, manufacturing, search and rescue, defence and environmental monitoring. There are wider societal gains too. Autonomous robots could be deployed in to elderly people's homes to assist in everyday tasks. Also, we'll advance the capabilities of prosthetic limbs."

Professor Dave Robertson, head of the School of Informatics at the University of Edinburgh, said: "This new centre prepares us for new challenges where humans and robotic systems must work together."