The EU, under Horizon 2020, the mechanism the European Commission is using to stimulate robotics-related research, has co-funded 17 new robotics-related projects.
All of these projects focus on developing critical technologies for commercialized industrial and service robotics applications and all (except one) are managed by a consortium of corporate and academic/research partners. Emphasis is placed on quick technology transfers and rapid commercialization which is why each project has at least one corporate partner.
A downside, however, is that European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker recently proposed shifting the overall Horizon 2020 program to reduce the research aspect and use the saved funds to pay for general economic stimulus. The results of his push are, at present, unknown.
Here are the 17 funded robotics-related projects which started in 2014 and are funded to 2018:
AEROARMS - developing an aerial robotic system with multiple arms and advanced manipulation capabilities for application in industrial inspection and maintenance. Corporate partners: Elektra UAS, Alstom Inspection, Sensima Inspection.
AEROWORKS - developing an aerial robotic team to autonomously conduct infrastructure inspection and maintenance tasks, while additionally providing intuitive and user-friendly interfaces to human-operators. Corporate partners: Ascending Technologies, Skybotix, Alstom Inspection, Skelleftea Kraft.
COMANOID - investigates the deployment of robotic solutions in well-identified Airbus airliner assembly operations that are laborious or tedious for human workers and for which access is impossible for wheeled or rail-ported robotic platforms. Corporate partners: European Aeronautic Defence & Space (EADS).
CENTAURO - developing a human-robot symbiotic system, where a human operator is tele-present with its whole body in a Centaur-like robot, which is capable of robust locomotion and dexterous manipulation in the rough terrains of various disaster situations. Corporate partners: ProgenoX, Kermtechnische Hilfsdienst.
CogIMon - This Cognitive Interactive in Motion research aims at human-robot interaction with systemic integration of teams of humans and compliant robots. Corporate partners: none.
EurEyeCase - Large numbers of patients suffer from various types of vitreo-retinal eye diseases and the majority of these intra−ocular interventions lie on or even beyond the boundaries of human skills in terms of manipulation and positioning precision. Hence the need for robotic technology to augment surgeons' skills. Corporate partners: Medical Robotic Technologies, ACMIT, Optomedical Technologies, Medizinisches Laserzentrum Lubeck.
FLOBOT - developing a floor washing robot for professional users. The project integrates existing solutions to produce a professional floor washing robot for a wide area of industrial, civil and commercial premises. Corporate partners: FIMAP, Robosoft Services, 7 Manutencoop Facility Management, Groupe Services France.
Flourish - to bridge the gap between the current and desired capabilities of agricultural robots by developing an adaptable robotic solution for precision farming. The system will be able to survey a field from the air, perform targeted intervention on the ground, and provide detailed information for decision support. Corporate partners: Robert Bosch, Agenzia Servizi Settore Agroalimentare delle Marche.
RETRAINER - to tune and validate advanced robot-based technologies to facilitate recovery of arm and hand function in stroke survivors. Will allow the users to use their own arm and hand as much and as soon as possible after the trauma so to achieve the best outcomes in rehabilitation. Corporate partners: Robert Bosch, Agenzia Servizi Settore Agroalimentare delle Marche.
RobDREAM - improve industrial mobile manipulators’ perception, navigation, manipulation and grasping capabilities by automatic optimization of parameters, strategies and selection of tools within a portfolio of key algorithms. Corporate partners: KUKA, Convergent Information Technologies.
RoMaNS - This (Robotic Manipulation for Nuclear Sort and Segregation) project will solve an urgent market and societal need cleaning up the past half century of nuclear waste. Corporate partners: National Nuclear Lab.
SARAFun - a project to enable a non-expert user to train/integrate a new bi-manual assembly task on an ABB YuMi robot in less than a day. The robot will be equipped with sensory and cognitive abilities as well as reasoning abilities required to plan and execute any assembly task in a human like manner. Corporate partners: ABB.
SecondHands - a robot assistant that is trained to understand maintenance tasks so that it can either pro-actively or as a result of prompting, offer assistance to maintenance technicians performing routine and preventative maintenance. Corporate partners: OCADO Group.
Smokebot - a project to develop and equip mobile robots with novel environmental sensors for inspection of disaster sites with low visibility. Corporate partners: Taurob GmbH.
SoMa - a plan to provide soft, uncertain interactions between robotic manipulation and the environment. Corporate partners: OCADO Group and The Walt Disney Company.
Sweeper - using modules from the FP7 CROPS project, this new project is to detect, grasp and harvest sweet peppers under various growing situations. Corporate partners: de Tuindershoek, Irmato Group.
WiMUST - a Widely scalable Mobile Underwater Sonar Technology project to expand and improve the functionalities of current cooperative marine robotic systems, effectively enabling distributed acoustic array technologies for geophysical surveying with a view to exploration and geotechnical surveying for civil and commercial applications. Corporate partners: Graal Tech, Evo Logics, CGG Veritas Services, Geo Marine Survey Systems, GeoSurveys.
Frank Tobe is the owner and publisher of The Robot Report and co-founder of ROBO Global which has developed a tracking index for the robotics industry, the ROBO Global™ Robotics & Automation Index. The index of 82 companies in 13 subsectors tracks and captures the entire economic value of this global opportunity in robotics, automation and enabling technologies.