The European Commission has published details of the first robotics projects to receive funding under its Horizon 2020 initiative.
Sectors covered include medical and rescue, industrial and service cognitive interaction and precision agricultural techniques.
The projects focus on developing technologies relevant for industrial and service robotics, and innovative solutions in a real-world context. Their objectives can be broadly outlined as: drawing inspiration from human specificities, overcoming bodily limitations, supporting tedious or difficult tasks and making global challenges easier.
Those chosen to receive funding until 2018 are:
ROBDREAM aims to make inactive phases for robots as beneficial as they can be for humans. Just as humans dream when they are asleep, robot learning processes shouldn’t end with a push on the ‘off’ button. They should rather make the most of this downtime to reflect on their previous experiences and enhance their capacity to solve future problems.
Future robots will learn from humans by interacting with them and their environment. SOMA (Soft-bodied Intelligence for Manipulation) and COGIMON (Cognitive Interaction in Motion) promise to be steps in the right direction.
Other projects focus on cleaning up nuclear waste (ROMANS), performing industrial maintenance (SECONDHANDS), undertaking various operations on assembly lines (SARAFUN), manufacturing aircrafts (COMANOID), maintaining industrial sites (AEROARMS), washing floors (FLOBOT), inspecting disaster sites in low visibility conditions (SMOKEBOT), surveying underwater installations (WIMUST) and harvesting sweet peppers (SWEEPER).
The most eye catching funded study is possibly CENTAURO, a sci-fi inspired project which aims for human-robot symbiosis through the development of a centaur-like robot. Human operators are able to control the system by means of a full-body tele-presence suit in augmented reality.
Robots and autonomous systems aimed at the healthcare sector are also represented by RETRAINER, a robot-based technology to help neurological patients recover arm and hand function, and EUREYECASE which aims to help surgeons through the very delicate use of vitreoretinal eye surgery.
Finally, FLOURISH, addresses precision agriculture techniques with the development of a system that will survey a field from the air, perform targeted intervention on the ground, and provide detailed information for decision support.