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Periodic Report Summary 1 - SMART-E (Sustainable Manufacturing through Advanced Robotics Training in Europe)

SMART-E: Sustainable Manufacturing through Advanced Robotics Training in Europe

The concept underlying the SMART-E Marie Curie Training Network – to train the next generation of advanced roboticists to strengthen the sustainable manufacturing sector across Europe – has become ever more relevant. Robotics is recognised across Europe as a key tool in developing growth across a range of industries, and an area in which Europe has particular strengths. At a time where the European economy continues to struggle to recover in full, the SMART-E focus on the development of robotic and autonomous technologies to enhance the European manufacturing base ties in closely with a need to apply innovation and research to economic recovery.

We are training 13 Early Stage Researchers (ESRs) and 2 Experienced Researchers (ERs), and developing a leading European doctoral training programme in Advanced Robotics Technologies. The network combines state-of-the-art techniques and utilizes novel technologies across a broad range of areas involving a team of experts in:

- Embodied Intelligence: University of Zurich (UZH)
- Soft Robotics: UZH and the Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna (SSSA)
- Compliant Robotics: the Italian Institute of Technology (IIT) and the University of Salford (USAL)
- Smart Materials: IIT
- Safety and human-machine interaction: Technical University of Munich (TUM)
- Autonomous systems, dexterous end effectors and statistics: USAL

This is combined with the expertise from leading manufacturers and automation R&D companies (in particular at AGCO GmbH) and the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre at the University of Sheffield. The network is further supported by a number of Associated Partners from academia and industry.

SMART-E has been designed to:

- Deliver a globally leading, sustainable doctoral training programme.
- Provide researchers with complementary business, leadership and interpersonal skills, and giving them exposure to different working cultures in academic and business sectors internationally.
- Develop innovative solutions for industrial applications in advanced robotics and intelligent automation for sustainable manufacturing in dexterous, soft and compliant robotics in manufacturing; reconfigurable and logistics robotics; and safety and human robot interaction and cooperation.
- Provide hands-on experience of robotics research through experiments across European platforms.
- Promote European–wide collaboration on robotics for sustainable manufacturing.

Each of the SMART-E researchers is now progressing with their research projects, and they are developing the concepts further with their respective supervisors. The first ER in the programme has successfully completed his fellowship, and the second is to start at the end of 2015.
In the short time that the ESRs have been in post, there has already been considerable progress. Nine publications have been published, and several more are in preparation; one researcher has also filed a patent in relation to his SMART-E research. Researchers have started secondments with industrial and academic partners, and are identifying areas for working together. The researchers have also identified several opportunities for collaboration amongst themselves; the network will be supporting the researchers to pursue these activities through upcoming training and summer schools.

As part of the bespoke SMART-E training programme, researchers have had in depth technical training, exposure to major companies, and more focused SMEs with expertise and requirements in robotics technologies. The complementary training programme has provided the researchers with courses in management, financial, presentation and entrepreneurial skills, as well as interactive exercises designed to help them apply innovative approaches to business, and to hone their leadership skills.

The research developed within SMART-E is already being focused on the end user, with industrial application embedded in the projects and deliverables planned for each project.SMART-E research will be used to improve automation and the use of robotics for the food and aerospace sectors, and is already finding application within some of our partner companies. The SMART-E researchers are already demonstrating their value both in terms of developing academic excellence, and application of their technologies in the workplace; as projects develop further, we expect to see this achieving ever greater prominence.

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United Kingdom


Life Sciences
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