Run like a robot

Carol Vorderman launches Run for the Future 2013

Run like a robot to help defeat men's 'silent killer'

Carol Vorderman launches this year's Run for the Future to raise money for prostate-cancer research. With her is Lord Mayor Peter Main and a robot from the Bristol Robotics Laboratory symbolising the hi-tech approach to tackling the illness.

On 22nd April 2013, television personality Carol Vorderman called on Bristol people to ‘run like a robot’ to help save Bristol men from a “silent killer”. The “silent killer” is prostate cancer, which claims the lives of 11,000 men every year in the UK with a further 41,000 being diagnosed.

Carol Vorderman is urging the people of Bristol to celebrate the pioneering robotic surgery that goes on in the city at Bristol’s Southmead Hospital, where surgeons use a Da Vinci robot to operate on men who have been diagnosed with prostate cancer and need surgery.

Carol Vorderman spoke at the launch of the Big Run for the Future – a 5km family fun-run on The Downs, Bristol on September 8th, which will raise vital funds to support the research work of the Bristol Urological Institute, based at Southmead Hospital.

Carol Vorderman said: “Prostate cancer is a silent killer because men do not talk to their family and friends about their problems in the same way as women. There are about the same number of deaths from this as there are women dying from breast cancer but we don’t hear so much about it. I would urge people to sign up to the Big Run For the Future and help support the work of the Bristol Urological Institute. This event is a wonderful way of raising awareness of the dangers of prostate cancer, and it will also provide essential funding to develop research into the disease here in Bristol. This year the event has a robot theme to celebrate the pioneering work using robotic surgery that takes place at Southmead Hospital so come along and see if you can run like a robot!”

The Big Run for the Future is limited to 7,000 participants so registration has started early. Although expected to attract some serious runners the event is open to all ages and abilities. People can walk or run the 5-kilometre course and picnic on the Downs. This year’s event is being organised as a family fun-day with things going on to entertain the whole family. Participants are being encouraged to dress up in ‘robotic’ fancy dress, with prizes for the best dressed runners and best robots on the day.

In 2008 Southmead Hospital became the first hospital in the South West to use a Da Vinci robot to carry out prostate removal for cancer patients. Director of the Bristol Urological Institute and Consultant Urologist, Professor David Gillatt said: “By using the ‘Robot’, the keyhole surgery is less invasive, and leads to a faster recovery time for patients. Many patients are discharged home within 24 hours of surgery. Run for the Future has been a great supporter of the Prostate Cancer Appeal at the BUI, not only in raising vital funding for our research work but also in raising awareness of the disease.”

The event is organised by Bristol Rotary in conjunction with the Bristol Urological Institute. The first Run for the Future was held in 2006 and over the years around £250,000 has been raised to help prostate cancer work in the city.

People can register for this year’s event by going to . More details of the event will be revealed over forthcoming weeks.

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RoboThespian helps BRL researchers create a physical presence in the immediate environment of the people around a tabletop device.


RoboThespian is a life sized humanoid robot designed for human interaction in a public environment and was developed by Engineered Arts Limited.

BRL facts and figures

BRL is the leading and largest academic centre for multi-disciplinary robotics research in the UK. It is a collaborative partnership between the University of the West of England and the University of Bristol, and home to a vibrant community of over 100 academics and industry practitioners, which lead current thinking in service robotics, intelligent autonomous systems and bio-engineering.

Brief BRL Lab Specification

  • BRL covers an area of approximately 4,600 sqm
  • BRL consists of thirty three Research Bays each covers an area of approximately 25 sqm
  • All six BRL Laboratories comply to Containment Level 2 (CL2) standard and cover an area of approximately 335 sqm
  • BRL facilities include two Flying Arenas. The Large Flying Arena covers an area of 182 sqm and the Small an area of 106 sqm.
  • The Large Flying Arena is equipped with an Infrared Motion Tracking System and an overhead camera

Page last updated 22 May 2017