Research and Innovation Actions addressing generic advances and technical capabilities:
a. Open, generic forward-looking research into novel technical advances in robotics – open to all robotics-related research topics and disciplines. Proposals are expected to address technical topics which cut across application domains and which can be developed further with a view to achieving high future impact on markets or societal sectors in Europe.
b. Technology research and development to achieve step changes in the capabilities of the following high priority RAS technologies: systems development, human-robot interaction, mechatronics, perception, navigation and cognition. Step changes are sought through either a multiplicative improvement in technical capability, for example achieving a difference in order of magnitude in the number of everyday objects a robot can recognise or handle, or a categorical advance, for example moving from rigid to intuitive human-robot interfaces.
The Commission considers that the open research and the technical capabilities proposals are expected to require EUR 2 to 4 million each; nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts. At least one action will be supported for each bullet (a or b above). Proposals are expected to identify which bullet is their main centre of gravity.
Innovation Actions driven by end users:
c. Improving the deployment prospects of RAS through end user-driven application developments in domains and application areas with significant market potential. Proposals are expected to address system development beyond TRL 5.[[Technology readiness level 5: technology validated in a relevant environment]]
The outputs will not be purely technological; actions will generate economic and operational data that will provide a valuable basis for setting operating parameters and for reducing commercial risks for future investors.
d. Filling technology or regulatory gaps through end user-driven innovation actions, where the gap represents a challenging market entry barrier. Proposals are expected to address a gap in either technical capability or system ability. The targeted gap and the required steps to tackle the gap must be clearly identified in the proposal.
The Commission considers that End-user proposals are expected to require 2 to 4 million each; nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts. At least one action will be supported for each bullet (c or d above). Proposals are expected to identify which bullet is their main centre of gravity.
RAS technology has evolved significantly in the past decade, moving robots out of constrained environments and into the workplace or home. Technologies ranging from mechatronics to sensing, manipulation and mobility have all contributed to this evolution. However the easy deployment of smart robots in everyday life is still beyond the technical capability of most current laboratory prototypes.
The specific challenge here is to develop robots that respond more flexibly, robustly and efficiently to the everyday needs of workers and citizens in professional or domestic environments, and which will also maintain Europe at the forefront of global research and development. The actions will address the whole research value chain, whether generic technology, developing RAS building blocks in the form of key technical capabilities, or market-led prototypes directly involving end users. End users will help drive Innovation Actions as active partners, setting the operating parameters for a given application as well as testing and validating the prototype solutions.
The expected impacts for the Research and Innovation Actions are:
- Promote excellent science and technology knowledge in Europe, demonstrated by a high standard of research outputs (including publications, open source software or, as appropriate, patents);
- Develop a new generation of robotic and autonomous systems with clear and measurable progress over the state of the art in terms of step changes in technical capabilities, as evidenced by improvements in performance (including in terms of affordability, reliability and robustness, energy autonomy and user acceptability);
- Greater industrial relevance of research actions and output as demonstrated by deeper involvement of industry and stronger take-up of research results;
- Fostering new links between academia and industry, accelerating and broadening technology transfer;
- Contributing by 2020 to the strategic vision of a more competitive positioning of European robotics providers in the marketplace, in terms of their penetration in new or emerging robotics sectors.
The expected impacts for the Innovation Actions on end-user research are:
- Increasing the market-readiness of robotics applications including in terms of technological validation outside the laboratory and of sound operational and cost-benefit models;
- Lowering of market entry barriers of a business or regulatory nature and increasing industrial and commercial investment in Europe at a rate comparable with other global regions;[[According to the PwC/NVCA MoneyTree Report, capital investments by US venture capital firms rose to about $172 million in 2013, nearly tripling 2011 levels]]
- Contributing to the faster growth of competitive small and mid-scale robotics companies in Europe.