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CORDIS at the European Robotics Forum… or ‘robots here, robots there, robots absolutely everywhere!’

CORDIS had the great pleasure to be present at the European Robotics Forum, Europe’s largest event dedicated to the European robotics industry, that took place in Bucharest, Romania, from 20 to 22 March. We met many fascinating robots and the brilliant and talented minds behind them in an event which saw the Romanian capital truly become ‘the European capital of robotics.’

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The special feature of March’s edition of the CORDIS Research*eu magazine focused on innovative EU-funded research in the field of robotics and in its opening editorial, we shamelessly promoted the (then) upcoming European Robotics Forum that is organised annually by euRobotics, SPARC (The Partnership for Robotics in Europe) and the European Commission.

Why did we do this? Not just because our request to attend was graciously accepted by the organisers but because, in the words of Lucilla Sioli, Director of ‘Artificial Intelligence and Digital Industry’ at the Commission’s DG CONNECT: “[The] European Robotics Forum truly is THE annual event for robotics in Europe, gathering a vibrant community, with more than 800 participants from Robotics and neighbouring communities… offering a unique opportunity for academia and industry to discuss and boost together science and innovation.”

CORDIS really saw this to be the case throughout the two and a half days we were in attendance, with a fantastic exhibition that allowed us to get up close and personal with some rather remarkable robots that are at the cutting edge of innovation, as well as attend some of around 50 workshops that intensively discussed the future of robotics and artificial intelligence (AI) in Europe.

During the forum’s opening ceremony, we heard from some of the key policymakers in this diverse and exciting field. Alexandru Petrescu, Romania’s Minister for Communications opened our eyes by stating that six out of 10 companies in the EU do not currently use advanced technologies such as robotics and AI but that this would change – AI, for example, will be a top EU priority for the period 2021-27. Romania currently holds the rotating presidency of the Council of the European Union.

From the Commission side, Mrs Sioli and her colleague, Peter Droell, Director of Industrial Technologies at DG Research & Innovation, also gave some insights about the priority of robotics and closely related fields in the next framework programme for research and innovation programme, Horizon Europe. Suffice to say, expect innovative robotics and AI research to be popping up in all corners of the new programme, such as in healthcare and automated driving.

By walking through the exhibition and meeting the robots ourselves, we saw that in more and more sectors of society and the economy, robots really are beginning to make their mark – to quote Mr Petrescu, “robotics is becoming mainstream.”

In particular, we met representatives of several EU-funded robotics-focused projects, as well as representatives for individual companies and academic institutes that have or are currently members of EU-funded projects. Over the next few days, we’ll be publishing on the CORDIS website a couple more detailed articles that will focus specifically on some of the great EU-funded and supported innovations that we had the pleasure to interact with during the forum.

In the meantime, we’d like to again thank the organisers for letting us tag along and maybe we’ll see you in Malaga for the 2020 edition?

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