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.
User needs, ethical, 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.
a) 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. Driven by application needs, the work can start from research at low TRL, but proposals are expected to validate their results in realistic environments in order to demonstrate the potential for take-up in the selected application(s).
The call is open to all robotics-related research topics and to all new application areas. Excluded are the four priority areas which are already covered elsewhere in this work programme: healthcare, inspection and maintenance of infrastructure, agri-food and agile production. 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.
The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU between €3 million and €5 million would allow this area to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.
b) Innovation Actions - Robotics for infrastructure inspection and maintenance
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 the area of infrastructure inspection and maintenance. 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. 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 Big Data and IoT.
The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU between €7 million and €9 million would allow this area to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.
c) Robotics Competitions
Competitions aims at reducing technical and commercial risks by allowing commercial and technical performance data to be gathered and assessed. They provide a real or near-real operating environment for long-term trials and the testing of deployment strategies.
Proposals (CSA) should address the delivery of challenge-led, robotics competitions focusing on the four application areas prioritised: Healthcare, Infrastructure Inspection and Maintenance, Agri-Food, and Agile Production. Besides the technological objectives, proposals are also expected to stimulate public engagement and engage with the Robotics DIHs. Proposals should address all aspects of running competitions as public events, and engage with the media and public. Proposals should seek to mobilise external partners in sponsoring and setting up the competitions.
- 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.
- Demonstration of the potential for robotics to impact at scale in the chosen application areas prioritised in this call (infrastructure inspection and maintenance).
- 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
- Greater public exposure to actual robotics capability.
- Greater engagement with competitions from commercial organisations in the four prioritised application areas: Healthcare, Infrastructure Inspection and Maintenance, Agri-Food and Agile Production.
Illustration Photo: Disaster Robotics (credits: Hiroko Tadokoro / Public domain)