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Research and Innovation boosting promising robotics applications


Innovative approaches to hard research problems in relation to applications of robotics in promising new areas are particularly encouraged. Proposals are expected to enable substantially improved solutions to challenging technical issues, with a view of take-up in applications with high socio-economic impact and low environmental footprint, where appropriate. Driven by application needs, the work can start from research at low TRL, but proposals are expected to validate their results in sufficiently realistic scenarios in order to demonstrate the potential for take-up in the selected application(s).

The call is open to the following research areas:

  1. Development of autonomous robots at the micro- or millimetre scale capable of energy autonomy on the scale of hours or longer. Developing miniature robots is challenging and the potential of robotics at this scale has not been fully explored.
  2. Integration and use of novel materials for service robotics, for instance active materials (e.g.: soft grippers). Current materials often limit the capability of robots, an exploration of how novel materials can reshape robots is an important innovation. In addition, material enabling the design of easy to maintain, upgrade and recycle robots, would also be an important innovation.
  3. Beyond human speed, general purpose, dexterous manipulation of objects. Raising productivity in many processes will require robots to operate faster than humans in the same task.
  4. Application and integration of non-visual sensing novel for service robotics (including off-board, ambient and multi-scale sensing) to achieve new functionality. Many applications in service robotics need sense data beyond the visual; for example chemical, biological, and physical properties; integrating these non-visual data into interpretation and decision making can enhance tasks by taking them beyond human sensing limitations.
  5. Development of intrinsically safe physical powerful robotic systems with proximity sensing capability for human-scale collaborative tasks. Developing intrinsically safe systems is critical to the uptake of collaborative robotics where robots need to be capable of applying working forces that can potentially cause injury to humans.
  6. Development of variable autonomy systems that significantly extend and enhance the operator’s awareness of the working environment. Sharing autonomy between a human operator and a robot can speed up operations and raise productivity.

Proposals are expected to be inspired by, and demonstrate the capability to address, real end user needs, respecting ethical, legal and social aspects, as appropriate. Proposals will be expected to plan efforts to connect and cooperate with the DIHs, Platforms and other relevant activities of this work programme, as appropriate. Proposals will be expected to deliver integrated TRL 4 demonstrations that show step change performance improvement over the current state of the art in the chosen area.

The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU between EUR 2 and 3 million would allow this area to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

Robotics enables a significant part of the economic impact of AI by delivering physical intelligence. Logistics, Healthcare, Agri-Food, Inspection and Maintenance, Mobility, Construction, Decommissioning; all require physical intelligence, for example in object manipulation. Physical intelligence is derived from combinations of underlying functional capabilities and developing these capabilities beyond the state of the art depends on fundamental R&D&I which crosses between technical domains, for example into materials research or human interaction. It is therefore important to enhance the capability of robots by exploring and developing the opportunities offered by novel technical developments related to physical intelligence.

  • Strengthening European excellence in Robotics S&T
  • Boosting the use of robotics in promising application areas
  • Opening up new markets for robotics
  • Lowering barriers in the deployment of robotics-based solutions.