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Twinning coordination action for spreading excellence in Aerial Robotics

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - AeRoTwin (Twinning coordination action for spreading excellence in Aerial Robotics)

Reporting period: 2019-12-01 to 2022-02-28

The overall goal of AeRoTwin is to decrease networking gaps and deficiencies between UNIZG-FER and internationally leading counterparts in EU, by significantly enhancing S&T capacity of the Laboratory for Robotics and Intelligent Control Systems (LARICS) at UNIZG-FER. The project objectives are: i) increase UNIZG-FER research excellence and innov. capacity in the field of aerial robotics, ii) enhance UNIZG-FER networking capacity and scientific visibility by strengthening links to aerial robotics research community, and iii) improve UNIZG-FER quality of innov. mgmt. and tech. transfer, by strengthening links to aerial robotics industry in the following Strategic Research Domains (SRDs): 1) cooperative robotic missions, 2) aerial robot navigation, and 3) aerial robot configurability. AeRoTwin will create the basis for a common framework for aerial robotics community involving EU and international leaders of the field.
AeroTwin provided UNIZG-FER research staff with the opportunity to work together with top scientists on a daily basis in laboratories equipped with the state-of-the-art equipment. Short-term visits for project management staff provided UNIZG-FER with direct insight into administrative processes related to innovation management and technology transfer. The hands-on joint summer schools were executed in the period of 1-2 days of extensive transfer of practical knowledge, followed by 2-3 days dedicated to implementation of learned techniques on real systems. Finally, joint mentoring of PhD students additionally raised the research profile: i) PhD students have had the opportunity to be directly supervised by top scientists, ii) PhD students had new insights of best practices in education of future scientists, and iii) long term formal agreements between institutions additionally strengthened collaboration between the project partners beyond the lifetime of the project.
All partners have presented research activities on national media (TV, radio, newspapers), paying a special attention to younger generations. We have actively participated in UNIZG-FER open doors programs (such as SUZA - with particular attention given to female students. The AeroTwin project contributed significantly to the popularisation of the robotics research field at the national level. The DroneDays was the major internal event organised by LARICS in 2019 and 2021. Being the largest event related to UAVs in Croatia, DroneDays attracted a large number of attendees ( and
Industrial fairs have been selected to promote technology transfer, identify potential needs of the industry and industrial technology applications. The consortium rented a booth and demonstrated equipment and technologies developed by partners, and also had sessions in the fair program. Finally, innovation management trainings and technology transfer workshops, related to i) Patents and other protection of the know how, ii) Spin off creation and improvement, and iii) Technology transfer actions, had been given by CTA and ICL. Property rights of the knowledge that motivates the creation of this kind of companies and their future industrial exploitation were also carefully discussed. Technology offers and market demands profiles for some of the most relevant LARICS research results have been analysed.
The impacts of AeRoTwin are fourfold: I. Impacts set out in the work programme, II. Impacts on H2020 societal challenges, III. Impacts at national level, IV. Impacts at EU level.

Ad I)
Heaving on-board two internationally recognized research groups, leaders in the field of aerial robotics, significantly increased UNIZG-FER research excellence. A particular set of actions have been executed that enhanced reputation, attractiveness and networking of UNIZG-FER in the aerial robotics research field. We have organized staff exchange, experts visits, workshops and tutorials at leading conferences and robotics events, fair attendance, hands-on trainings, innovation management and technology transfer trainings, open doors for school kids and general public, and co-supervising of students. The project had a large impact on improvement of LARICS staff capability to prepare excellent proposals at national, EU and international levels. During the project lifetime LARICS have summitted 27 project proposals, with 14 accepted applications (>50%).
Ad II)
Aerial robotics research has direct and indirect impact on the sustainable agriculture. LARICS participated in UAV based crop/vineyard monitoring. With respect to secure, clean and efficient energy, aerial vehicles, designed in LARICS, are used for inspection of wind turbines. We anticipate that AeroTwin, in a very close future, will have a further impact on inclusive, innovative and secure societies as UAV will be used for persistent monitoring of areas for forest fires protection, national parks, forests, lakes and other large outdoor areas to ensure early detection and long-term forecasts on climate change.
Croatian Strategy for Smart Specialization (S3) presents a comprehensive assessment of an integrated, place-based economic transformation agenda that aims to increase the overall competitiveness of the country. S3 identifies “Strengthening national research and innovation infrastructure with public access and connecting with European infrastructures” as a key priority. AeRoTwin project have connected LARICS with the key EU research institutions, and thus directly impact this priority. S3 goes further to define four thematic pillars: Development of innovation system, Strengthening the innovation potential, Promotion of cooperation and knowledge transfer, and Human resource development; all of those pillars have been realized through AeRoTwin project. Furthermore, UNIZG-FER has the strategic goal to increase R&D capacity and quality of research and innovation to be transferred to the Croatian economy. Through AeRoTwin, LARICS contributed to achieve this goal.
Ad IV)
Strategic Research Agenda (SRA), is the key document for European robotics community that lays down a path to fulfill the EU 2020 strategy. SRA defines the key high-level research priorities - SRDs defined in AeRoTwin project directly contributed to all of them. Raising LARICS research excellence contributed to promotion of the South-east EU area into a world expert in aerial robotics, which in turn benefited to European world leading position in all key robotic technology areas. Advancing research capabilities of LARICS, together with innovation management trainings, resulted in increased number of collaborations with industry, commercialization agreements, and number of innovative products and services.
AeRoTwin group photo
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