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Robotics in Application Areas and Coordination & Support


a) Research and Innovation Actions (RIA) - Robotics Core Technology

Autonomy in robotic systems is built on a combination of four Core Technologies:

AI and Cognition: AI provides tools to make systems cognitive. Cognition equips robots with the ability to safely interact with people, their environments or other robots, to learn and to categorise, to make decisions and to derive knowledge.

Cognitive Mechatronics: Mechatronic systems where sensing and actuation are closely coupled with cognitive systems are expected to deliver improved control, motion, interaction (including all modalities), adaptation and learning, and safer systems.

Socially cooperative human-robot interaction: Cooperative human-robot interaction is critical in many work environments from collaborative support, e.g. passing tools to a worker, navigation in complex work environments, human-friendly and human assistive interactions, to the design of exo-skeletons able to provide motion that is sympathetic to the user.

Model-based design and configuration tools: Deploying robotics at scale in application areas where tasks need to be defined by the user requires easy-to-use configuration tools. Embedding and sharing of knowledge between tools is essential, as is standardisation across the interfaces to connect systems and modules (taking into account cybersecurity issues, including security by design and data integrity).

Proposals should address one of the four core technologies and target the development of core technology modules (modular, open and non-proprietary) and tool kits for use in deployable system platforms that meet the requirements of applications in the following four prioritised application areas: Healthcare, Infrastructure Inspection and Maintenance, Agri-Food and Agile Production. Proposals will be required to dedicate resource for connecting with the DIH actions arising from DT-ICT-02-2018.

The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU of between EUR 6 and 7 million would allow this area to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

Proposals are requested to specify the Core Technology in which their centre of gravity lies. At least one action in each Core Technology will be funded.

b) Innovation Actions (IA) - Robotics for agri-food, and agile production

Establish large-scale pilots capable of demonstrating the use of robotics at scale in actual or highly realistic operating environments; showcase advanced prototype applications built around platforms operating in real or near-real environments and demonstrate high levels of socio-economic impact.

Through large-scale pilots, proposals are expected to make a significant step forward in platform development in one of the two application areas:

  • In the Agri-Food sector from farming to processing and distribution
  • Agile Production.

Starting from suitable reference architectures, platform interfaces are defined, tested via piloting, and supported via ecosystem building preparing their roll-out, and are being evolved over time into standards.

Each proposal is expected to establish large scale pilots. They are expected to: consider utilising existing infrastructure and links to other European, national or private funding sources; identify the long-term sustainability of the pilot; develop scalable technical solutions capable of meeting performance targets; develop metrics and performance measures for the pilot; engage relevant industry stakeholders, including SMEs, in the provision and operation of the pilot, paving the way towards establishing strong collaborations for innovative robotic applications in industry. Proposals will be expected to dedicate resources to disseminate best practice and coordinate access to platforms and demonstrators, in particular in connecting with the Robotics DIHs and Core Technologies actions and other relevant activities, in H2020 and beyond.

Pilots are expected to address both technical and non-technical issues, such as socio-economic impact, novel business models, legal and regulatory, ethical and cyber-security issues and connections to AI, Big Data and IoT. Where appropriate, applications should leverage synergies among EU satellite-based systems for navigation (EGNOS/Galileo), and/or observation (Copernicus) and communication.

The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU of between EUR 6 and 7 million would allow this area to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts. The objective is to fund at least 3 proposals per application area.

c) Coordination and Support Action (CSA) - Robotics

Proposals should address issues concerning the whole European robotics community and provide support actions that develop awareness and knowledge transfer. Proposals should consider the development of a high-level stakeholder forum and an associated communication strategy; the development of mechanisms that create a continuing discussion around legal and societal issues concerning AI-based robotics technology that leads to strategic development and the dissemination of best practice to robotics stakeholders and particularly to developers and policy makers.

Proposals should address the issues of socio-economic analysis, cyber-security, data protection, ethical and privacy issues that arise from the increased deployment of robotics to ensure that there is relevant and effective strategic development and best practice advice available to robotics stakeholders.

Proposals should address the public understanding of robotics through the development of news articles, public and media engagement and awareness activities.

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

While robots originated in large-scale mass manufacturing, they are now spreading to more and more application areas. In these new settings, robots are often faced with new technical and non-technical challenges. The purpose of this topic is to address such issues in a modular and open way, and reduce the barriers that prevent a more widespread adoption of robots. Four Priority Areas (PAs) are targeted: healthcare, inspection and maintenance of infrastructure, agri-food, and agile production.

In each of these PAs it is critical to develop appropriate autonomous capability that has impact on the efficiency of key applications in the PAs and moves beyond the current state of the art. This capability is built from core technologies and is proved and tested through pilot demonstrators that embed within real or near real environments.

User needs, safety, ethical, gender, legal, societal and economic aspects should be addressed in order to raise awareness and take-up by citizens and businesses. Privacy and cybersecurity issues, including security by design and data integrity should also be addressed, where appropriate.

Research and Innovation Actions:

  • Improved technical capability in each of the core technologies over the current state of the art.
  • A greater range of applications in the prioritised application areas that can be demonstrated at TRL 3 and above.
  • The lowering of technical barriers within the prioritised applications areas.

Innovation Actions:

  • Demonstration of the potential for robotics to impact at scale in the chosen application areas prioritised in this call.
  • Reduction of technical and commercial risk in the deployment of services based on robotic actors within the selected application area.
  • Greater understanding from the application stakeholders of the potential for deploying robotics.
  • Demonstration of platforms operating over extended time periods in near realistic environments and promotion of their use.
  • Develop the eco-system around the prioritised application areas to stimulate deployment.
  • Contribution to the development of open, industry-led or de facto standards

Coordination and Support Action:

  • Effective dissemination of knowledge surrounding non-technical aspects of robot deployment.
  • Greater awareness of robotics among key stakeholders and policy makers.
  • Improved understanding of legal, socio-economic and ethical issues and their impact on robotics deployment.