Newsletter August 2017

News from the SPARC public-private European robotics partnership and from Europe's robotics sector




Drone demonstration funding soon

UK floats proposals for drone rules

UK cops get first flying squad

Liability under the microscope

Empowerment could make robots acceptable

Live car data here and now

EU funding "vital" for robotics research

Reinsurer sees robotics as emerging risk

Robot reveals reactor wreckage

Programming as kids' play

Enigmatic windfall


ERW National Coordinators reveal mix of challenges

Advisory board calls for wider reach

RoCKIn reveals all

Give us your views on participation in fairs

Festival in Pisa

Save the date

ERF workshops wanted

Host European Robotics Forum 2019

ERW: make it happen


PAL picks four TIAGo Steel winners for ERL

Sankt Augustin opens for entries





Drone demonstration funding soon

The European Commission will soon call for bids for €5 million of funding for large demonstrations of how drones can be integrated into Europe's airspace alongside piloted aircraft.

The money is part of €44 million of grants for such integration projects, to be made available under the Commission's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme. The total includes €30 million for industrial research and development for members of the Single European Sky Air traffic management Research (SESAR) Joint Undertaking.

The other €9 million is for research by industry.

Based on a SESAR paper, the U-Space blueprint, the European Commission has unveiled a plan to introduce regulations for the safe and automated operation of drone flights by 2019, to support a strong drone services market in the European Union (EU).

The Commission, as part of the EU's Aviation Strategy for Europe, wants to make drone use up to an altitude of 150m (U-space in Commission terms) "safe, secure and environmentally friendly".

Regulations, intended to be the equivalent of air traffic management for manned aviation, are likely to include registration of drones and drone operators, their e-identification and limiting fly zones (known as geo-fencing). The acquisition, storage and processing of data captured by drones is likely to require data protection rules.

Eventual regulation is likely to be based on the operation of drones for a wide range of specified uses, rather than on drone weight. Today, common EU rules only cover drones that weigh more than 150kg. Below that weight, EU countries are responsible for regulating drones. As a result, says the Commission, national rules, mostly covering small drones below 25kg and non-complex operations, are diverging, which could lead to fragmentation of the EU internal market, a barrier to innovation, uncertainty for companies and safety risks. One website claims to show the different national regulations in the EU.

Possible uses of drones include delivery services, data collection and inspection of infrastructure.

The Commission cited an estimate that the market for drone services could reach at least €10 billion by 2035, as well as a forecast that by 2020 the global market would grow by 42% in precision agriculture, 26% in media and entertainment, 36% in infrastructure inspection and monitoring, and 30% in leisure activities.

The EU's Commissioner for Transport Violeta Bulc said: "Drones mean innovation, new services for citizens, new business models and a huge potential for economic growth. We need the EU to be in the driving seat and have a safe drone services market up and running by 2019.”

The Commission said that the European Aviation Safety Agency is working with EU countries and industry to produce EU-wide safety rules implementing the EU's basic aviation safety regulation which the European Parliament and the European Council are expected to adopt soon.

On 29 November 2016, the Commission outlined its drone policy.

The Commission will also form an expert group to advise on drone policy.


UK floats proposals for drone rules

Critics have questioned the sketchy nature of drone rules proposed by the UK government and the validity of tests that form the basis of the proposals.

The proposed rules would require registration in the UK of drones weighing 250g and over as well as safety awareness tests for users covering safety, security and privacy.

The government said that it also planned to expand the use of GPS-based geo-fencing around buildings or sensitive areas.

It gave no timescale for the introduction of the rules.

The UK's Department for Transport (DfT) said that tests that it commissioned, with the British Airline Pilots’ Association (BALPA) and the Military Aviation Authority (MAA), showed that drones weighing 400g could damage the windscreens of helicopters. Airliner windscreens were more resistant and would only be damaged critically by drones weighing about 2kg, and only if the airliner were flying at high speed and not during take-off and landing, it said.

Critics have questioned the validity of the tests, which involved a drone assembled with a large battery and an added heavy camera rather than the usual integrated camera. The DfT has published only a summary of the study.

The DfT said that drones were “an exciting opportunity for the UK, are already of substantial benefit to business and the public and are central to the government’s industrial strategy”.

Brendan Schulman, vice-president of policy and legal affairs at the Chinese drone maker DJI, which claimed to be the world’s leader in civilian drones and aerial imaging technology, said that the DfT proposal “appears to strike a sensible balance between protecting public safety and bringing those benefits to the UK’s businesses and the public at large”.

DJI recently outlined a framework to electronically identify drones in flight and said that it would add ADS-B receivers to its new M200 professional drones to warn drone pilots of nearby traditional aircraft.


UK cops get first flying squad

Two UK police forces have launched the country’s first police drone unit, following a trial that began in November 2015. Devon & Cornwall Police and Dorset Police will use their human-operated drones for tasks such as missing person searches, crime scene photography, responding to major traffic accidents and combatting wildlife crime.

“Drones can even help police track and monitor suspects during a firearm or terrorist incident, as it will allow officers to gain vital information, quickly, safely, and allow us to respond effectively at the scene,” said Chief Superintendent Jim Nye, operations commander for the alliance of the two police forces.

The drones (shown right), which reportedly cost about £2,000 (€2,285) each, are seen as a cheaper alternative to helicopters, for tasks such as photographing crime scenes. They include the DJI Inspire drone with a zoom still/video camera and thermal imaging for operation 24 hours a day and a smaller DJI Mavic. There are six initial drones and five Civil Aviation Authority-accredited operators. The expect to have 18 drones and another 40 trained officers within a year.

In April 2016, the Chinese drone company DJI refuted reports that it routinely shared customer information and drone videos with China's authorities.

"When you fly a DJI drone, nobody but you can see the live video feed or the recorded video it generates — unless you decide otherwise," said the company. "DJI cannot, and we believe should not, access your live feed, the video files on your drone’s memory cards or the video files on your phone or tablet connected to the flight controller. Since we cannot access it, we cannot provide it to anyone else — even with a court order or another valid legal demand."

DJI pointed to its privacy policy.

However, DJI conceded that it would have access to data if a customer synched flight data via the company's GO app.

A spokesperson for the Drone Unit of the Devon & Cornwall and Dorset police forces said: “We are fully aware of the allegations in relation to DJI and their management of data.

“We are working with representatives from DJI and are confident that the data and information we collect and store is not at risk of being compromised, and is being handled in the correct manner.

“We do not and never have synched our flight data with the DJI Go App.”


Liability under the microscope

The possible need for supervision of robots and autonomous systems or for opportunities for human supervisors to act could affect the allocation of liability in system operation, according to the European Commission.

Yet that might have to be balanced against the problem that such supervision would conflict with the idea of autonomy, the Commission told a workshop on liability of autonomous systems, robots and the internet of things.

The meeting gathered lawyers and technical experts for the start of a process that is expected to lead to a clearer allocation of liability. One theme of the meeting, which the Commission held in Brussels on 13 July, was that the complexity of robotics and other advanced systems could make it difficult to track any damage caused back to a defect. As the complexity of algorithms increases, resulting in self-learning and autonomy, it becomes more difficult to foresee a system’s future decisions and actions.

A Commission response to the problem was the use of event data recorders with robots and other advanced systems, which also raised questions of who should have access to such data and whether the data would in practice allow what happened to be evaluated and the origin of the defect to be discovered.

The workshop also addressed liability linked to unwanted interference, such as cyber-attacks. The discussion covered the adaptation and improvement of protection against such attacks over the lifetime of a robotic or other system, raising the question of who should be responsible for up-to-date protection.

The Commission is currently reviewing the EU Product Liability Directive, including the adequacy of existing liability rules when damage arises in relation to autonomous systems and robots. The Commission’s public consultation on the subject produced these results.

A video recording of the liability meeting and the presentations are here

• The call by Professor Alan Winfield of the Bristol Robotics Laboratory in the UK, for ‘ethical black boxes’ to be fitted to robots and other autonomous systems, to increase public trust and accountability, was cited in a Financial Times article in August 2017. Winfield is a leading roboticist in the European and international robotics communities. The Financial Times article, by science commentator Anjana Ahuja, discussed possible consequences of a future inability to understand the behaviour of robots.

Find the article available for Financial Times subscribers here


Empowerment could make robots acceptable

Researchers in the UK have outlined an 'empowerment' concept that they claimed could allow robots to act in a socially-responsible way alongside humans.

The use of empowerment, based on sociology and psychology, is defined as the ability of robots to change their environment and to be aware of that possibility, according to the University of Hertfordshire artificial intelligence experts, Dr. Christoph Salge and Professor Daniel Polani.

They claimed that the approach could maintain the original motivation of Isaac Asimov's famous Three Laws of Robotics and reinterpret them, by equipping a robot with guidelines or motivations that cause it to: protect itself and keep itself functioning; do the same for a human partner; and stick around and follow the human’s lead. Such controls would be needed for future robots that interact closely with humans, such as self-driving cars and robots that provide care for people (as in the case of the Care-O-bot 3 from Fraunhofer IPA shown right).

The principle of empowerment, developed over the past 12 years, states that an agent should attempt to keep its options open and will try to move to states where it has the most options that it can reliably attain. The researchers claimed that the resulting behaviours were surprisingly 'natural' in many cases, and typically only required the robot to know the dynamics of the world, with no specialised artificial intelligence (AI) behaviour coded for particular scenarios.

The researchers said that AI developers, including Google DeepMind, had already begun to adopt the approach, which the authors describe in a paper in the journal Frontiers.

"The general idea is not to solve any particular task well, or to be able to learn how to do a specific task well, but instead to offer an incentive for behaviour even if there is currently no specific task the agent needs to attend to. In the case of empowerment, the behavior generated turns out to coincide well with the idea of robot self-preservation," said the paper.

The intrinsic motivation was said to give a robot the ability to cope with different, disparate sensorimotor configurations, with no need to specify an external reward as empowerment derives directly from the intrinsic dynamics of the system.

“In the challenging scenarios of the future, we will not be able to rely on a clearly defined functionality that requires robots to be safely separated from humans, or the scenarios to be simplistic or very well defined in advance,” said Salge, Research Fellow at the University of Hertfordshire. “Imbuing a robot with these kinds of motivation is difficult, because robots have problems understanding human language and specific behaviour rules can fail when applied to differing contexts."

Polani, Professor of AI, added: “Several of the original goals of the Three Laws of Robotics by Asimov might be addressable in the context of empowerment." Referring to the wish to control robots' behaviour and for robots to act 'ethically', he added: "We discuss possibilities to map such requirements into the formal and operational language of empowerment.”

The paper can be accessed here

• Polani recently took up his position as the new president of the RoboCup organisation, which runs an international series of robot competitions to advance science, technology, and education and to incubate and disseminate scientific and technological expertise and know-how in robotics and AI.


Live car data here and now

The HERE consortium of carmakers Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz launched what it claimed to be the first use of live sensor data such as car braking information from competing car brands in a real-time traffic information service.

It said that the use of such data in its Real-Time Traffic service would result in “significantly higher accuracy and more precise information about traffic conditions”.

Ralf Herrtwich, senior vice-president automotive at HERE Technologies, said: “While it helps drivers making informed decisions behind the wheel today, it also moves us closer to realising our vision of a live representation of the road environment needed for both advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) and self-driving applications.”

HERE Real-Time Traffic provides drivers with information about traffic conditions and can be used by ADAS. The group said that the service is also used by ride-hailing companies, cities, road transport agencies, logistics companies, and for air quality analysis.

Real-Time Traffic provides traffic flow data, especially on arterial roads, in more than 60 countries. For more than 30 of those countries, the service provides incident information.

HERE said that it collects billions of GPS data points every day from more than 100 probe and incident sources for its Real-Time Traffic service and that it is expanding the number of commercial vehicles from which it gathers conventional probe data.

Last September, HERE said that it would also launch services covering potential road hazards, traffic updates and on-street parking.


EU funding "vital" for robotics research

The UK company Shadow Robot said that European research funding had been vital to the development of its technology over the past 10 years “from a technical novelty to a globally leading capability with applications across the spectrum of robotics technology”.

The company, a leading euRobotics member and active in the robotics community, stressed the importance of European Union (EU) funding for robotics research when it gave evidence for a study by the Technopolis consultancy on such funding in the UK.

The resulting Technopolis report, The role of EU funding in UK research and innovation, said that EU research and innovation funding was deeply embedded in the UK. The report was commissioned by four UK academies — the Royal Society, the Academy of Medical Sciences, the British Academy and the Royal Academy of Engineering — which believe that the UK’s coming exit from the EU (Brexit) is a threat to the country’s science.

Concerns include future funding, international collaboration, regulation and policy and the UK’s ability to attract researchers.

Alex Halliday, Vice President of the Royal Society, said: "Brexit is viewed as a threat to science by colleagues and organisations across Europe. We need to define a vision for European science, despite Brexit.” The UK has the second highest share among EU countries of funding from the EU’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme and the most signed agreements, claimed the Royal Society.

It said that 29% of academics in the UK were from abroad, including 17% from other EU countries. Also, more than half of the UK’s research output was the result of international collaboration, with 60% of that involving a partner in another EU country.

“International mobility brings broad benefits for individuals, institutions and the UK, but also for researchers’ home countries; 40% maintain active collaborations with partners back home,” said the Royal Society.

Halliday called for the UK government to guarantee the rights of European Economic Area citizens currently resident in the UK and to provide a right to mobility after Brexit.

He also called for a UK government commitment to fund the EU’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme until it ends and to seek a close association with its successor, Framework Programme 9. The government has promised funding only until Brexit, in March 2019.

According to the Shadow managing director Rich Walker: “For Shadow, as for many research-intensive SMEs, being able to partner with the best researchers over long time-scales is vital. European funding provides great mechanisms to build collaborations to deliver significant technology developments, and Shadow were keen to make this point in the Technopolis review.”

Referring to Shadow’s use of funding from Horizon 2020 and its predecessor FP7 over a decade, Walker added: “It was important to us to stress the networking effect of these collaborations, as well as the skills pipeline where early-stage collaborators in one project become leaders in others, and the importance of European programmes in giving us access to a pool of future talent.”

He stressed that the availability of the 100%-funded Research and Innovation Actions (RIAs) with pre-payments to ease cashflow made it possible “for SMEs to engage in high-risk speculative projects that may only serve to grow staff capabilities”.


Reinsurer sees robotics as emerging risk

Legislation aimed at robots and artificial intelligence (AI) will be an emerging risk for insurers and reinsurers from 2020, predicted the large reinsurer Swiss Re.

Also, said the reinsurer, technologies like AI "have the potential to disrupt [insurance] underwriting, claims handling and insurance distribution".

A new Sonar study by Swiss Re, New emerging risk insights, said that precision farming using robotics would "also change agriculture insurance, as it offers opportunities, for example in loss prevention and efficient claims handling." Crop monitoring allowed for better care and drones with visual sensors could easily and quickly document and verify a loss. "As with other smart technology implementation, insurance may grow its consulting function also with precision farming." said Swiss Re.

The current review of product liability in the European Union (EU) could lead to "major shifts to the very concept of liability, and gaps in consumer protection", it added. Today, under the EU product liability framework, product liability focuses on the strict liability of the manufacturer or importer for bodily injury and property damage caused by the defect of the product.

The Sonar study referred to ambiguities raised by AI: "The uncertainties as to stringent future regulations are underlined by differing cultural attitudes toward machine intelligence and robotics in different parts of the world."

Although insurance-technology start-ups have focused mainly on personal insurance, they were likely to move into commercial and speciality insurance, said Swiss Re. The Sonar study suggested that insurers and reinsurers could try to understand new technologies better by forming partnerships with universities and think-tanks: "A different skill set is required to execute on the innovative applications that technology offers and makes it crucial for re/insurance companies to attract talented employees."

Robots and AI were among 20 emerging risks identified by the Sonar study.

Find the Sonar study here


Robot reveals reactor wreckage

The Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco) has released the first pictures and video, obtained by a new robot, of the inside of the damaged primary containment vessel of Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station's Unit 3 reactor.

The images appear to show melted nuclear fuel and other debris from the accident at Fukushima on 11 March 2011, as a result of a tsunami following a major earthquake. The 13cm-diameter, 30cm-long underwater robot entered the containment vessel through a 14cm-diameter opening and is controlled remotely and powered via a wire (see Emergency robots prove their worth).

The robot, developed by Toshiba of Japan and the International Research Institute for Nuclear Decommissioning (IRID), has five thrusters, four at the rear and one at the front.

Tepco wants to use the images and data from the robot to understand the conditions inside the reactor better, so that it can plan a clean-up.

The Fukushima accident was the inspiration for the European Robotics League (ERL) Grand Challenge to be held at Piombino in Italy in September. At the ERL Emergency Robots event, teams will deploy their robots in simulated emergency conditions. The robots will have to travel through the air, under water and on land.

The EU is expected to fund maintenance and inspection projects under future calls of its research and innovation programme Horizon 2020.

Find Fukushima pictures and videos and more information here.


Programming as kids' play

US consumer robotics and artificial intelligence company Anki has introduced a visual programming language for its toy robot Cozmo with the claim that it will lead to children become programmers.

The "simple and intuitive" Cozmo Code Lab programming language, available as a free software update to the Cozmo app, involves dragging and dropping blocks into a sequence to control the robot.

Anki, which was founded in 2010 by three Carnegie Mellon Robotics Institute graduates, claimed to offer "cutting-edge technology that was once confined to robotics labs and research institutes" to give users access to high-level functionalities.

Boris Sofman, chief executive and co-founder, said: “With the launch of Code Lab, Cozmo now helps kids develop the logic and reasoning skills that programming requires. Based on the Scratch Blocks project, a collaboration between MIT Media Lab and Google, we now have a powerful tool that gives anyone interested in learning to code a robot the opportunity to unleash their creativity."

Anki said that, with Code Lab, Cozmo owners could start with very simple programs, before moving into sophisticated coding projects such as creating new games for the robot. It suggested that Cozmo could also be used for post-graduate research.

A software development kit launched last year lets roboticists program Cozmo, using the scripting language Python. Anki has now translated the code from Python to Scratch, a simple programming language developed at MIT for use in elementary and middle schools.

The company said that, while writing sophisticated programs required a programmer to define a set of rules, Code Lab challenged children to find a solution to prescribed prompts by moving blocks into an appropriate sequence. It also allowed them to experiment with Cozmo, it added.

Each block represents a specific action (such as moving the lift arms and head, changing lights or saying short phrases), a movement (including avoiding obstacles), or an existing animation. The robot can also be programmed for events such as reacting to a face, a smile, or a frown.


Enigmatic windfall

Perhaps you should save your robotics prototypes to fund your retirement — a 1941 German army Enigma cryptography machine has sold at auction for €45,000 after being bought in a Romanian flea market for €100 by a cryptography professor, according to Reuters. The three-rotor Enigma 1 was used originally to encode and decode German army messages. A 1944 four-rotor version was sold at auction in the US last month for a record $547,000 (€460,965), said Reuters.


SPARC/euRobotics NEWS

ERW National Coordinators reveal mix of challenges

The National Coordinators of the European Robotics Week (ERW) often face very different challenges and for some there are huge hurdles, reported delegates to a recent meeting of many of the National Coordinators.

Italy, for example, is the sixth largest user of industrial robots in the world, yet the government provides little funding for robotics events and the media is hostile to the technology, the National Coordinators Meeting on 30 June in Brussels heard. The RockEU2 robotics project, which funds the ERW, organised the meeting.

However, in Italy, public relations students helped teachers to disseminate European Robotics Week (ERW) events for free and robotics and programming training for middle managers was developed with Bocconi School of Management.

Spain’s national and regional governments also provided no event funding and almost no other support for the estimated 350 ERW events held in the country last year, mainly in Catalonia, the Basque region and Madrid, the Brussels meeting heard.

In Spain, most robotics companies are university spin-offs. The automotive industry is the biggest user of robots but there is no service robot market yet, with service robot firms mainly selling abroad, the National Coordinators heard.

A success reported by the National Coordinator in Portugal was that a local newspaper has agreed with the University of Aveiro to publish an article about robotics every week.

The Romania National Coordinator said that robots were not popular in the country, even though most people had never seen one, and that there was no national policy covering robots. One small beacon of hope was a small town’s robotics club, which had been holding events for 11 years, despite little media interest. However, a big non-ERW event organised in Bucharest attracted media attention.

Poland was more of a success story, with more awareness of robots and with robots in schools, companies and universities. There was also a robotics festival organised by the University of Poznan and a plan to set up the biggest robotics competition on the Baltic Sea.

Bosnia and Herzegovina was reported to have up to 3,500 programmers and 1,400 information and communications technology companies.

Slovenia reported that the press was interested in the impact of robotics on the economy, jobs and investment, especially if it led to jobs in deprived areas. euRobotics said that the European Robotics Forum 2016 in the Slovenian capital Ljubljana was a great success.

Uwe Haass, a senior consultant at Roboconsult and former euRobotics secretary general, suggested that National Coordinators should tap into regional and local patriotism to advance robotics.


Advisory board calls for wider reach

Robotics industry associations should start talking to policymakers more to improve the climate for robotics, according to one of the participants in the second meeting of the RockEU2 Outreach Advisory Board (OAB) at the end of June.

Board members also felt that more effort was needed now, to improve robotics education in the future, particularly by ensure that more children went into science, technology, engineering and mathematics jobs. Academia was also seen as not practical enough, with one suggestion for industrial companies to offer more student internships.

The OAB first met a year ago. This year’s meeting in Brussels, with nearly 20 members from a mix of disciplines and from the euRobotics secretariat, focused on outreach to industry. The next OAB meeting will be in November during the European Robotics Week and will focus on education, seen by many as a key issue for robotics.

At this year’s meeting, the creation of an equivalent to the Olympics organisation was suggested as a way to harmonise the many robotics competitions, to allow standardisation of the rules, for example.

There was much discussion about how competitions could become more sustainable and attractive. One suggestion was that competitions should hold more short workshops to update industrial engineers on the latest developments in robotics.

It was suggested that, although ERL and other competitions are popular with spectators, they are seen as being only for robotics specialists, despite their relevance for industry. There was also discussion of the need to tell more people about the benefits of the ERL competitions. Those benefits included practical results that could be transferred to industry, young people motivated to go into an engineering career, and team members improving their skills in realistic environments and learning soft skills such as teamwork and cooperation.


RoCKIn reveals all

A new book just published by InTech tells the story of the RoCKIn robot competition, which was funded by the European Commission’s 7th Framework Programme (FP7).

RoCKIn (Robot Competitions Kick Innovation in Cognitive Systems and Robotics) was one of two past robot competition projects funded by the Commission, which recognised such competitions as important tools to advance robotics research, along with robotics education and public awareness. The European Robotics League has picked up the baton from RoCKIn and is also funded by the Commission.

The project selected two challenges for their high relevance and impact on Europe's societal and industrial needs; use of domestic service robots (RoCKIn@Home) and use of robots in industry (RoCKIn@Work).

The open-access book — RoCKIn — Benchmarking Through Robot Competitions — describes the project’s activities and achievements, including the open-domain test beds developed for the two challenges and usable by researchers worldwide, and the performance scoring and benchmarking methods used.

The book also describes how a community of new teams was established and Kuka, the project industrial partner, assesses the impact of RoCKIn and other robot competitions on the industrial robot markets.

The publishing of the book was funded by the FP7 Post-Grant Open Access Pilot programme.

Find the book (ISBN 978-953-51-3374-2, Print ISBN 978-953-51-3373-5) here


Give us your views on participation in fairs

To better serve the European robotics community, euRobotics has launched a survey to understand what sort of participation in fairs and similar events its members and others would prefer.

The survey results will help euRobotics to focus its activities better in the future.
Please fill in the survey here
The deadline is 15 September 2017.


Festival in Pisa

Pisa in Italy will host the first International Robotics Festival on 7–13 September 2017, aimed at both scientists and the public. There will be conferences, workshops, film reviews, educational robotics laboratories for children and adults, exhibitions and demonstrations of applied robotics at more than 11 locations. There will also be a concert at the Verdi Theater with tenor Andrea Bocelli and soprano Maria Luigia Borsi.
Details here


Save the date

The next SPARC Brokerage Day will take place in Brussels on 6 December 2017.
At the event, the robotics community, including scientists, robot manufacturers and users of robotics technology, and others, will learn about cooperation options and the upcoming European Commission calls in the Horizon 2020 work programme 2018–20.
Mark your diaries — more information will be available soon.


ERF workshops wanted

euRobotics will start inviting proposals by the end of August for workshops to be held during next year's European Robotics Forum (ERF) on 13–15 March 2018.

The workshops should cover the four focus areas of euRobotics: healthcare; inspection and maintenance of infrastructure; agri-food; and agile production. However, euRobotics will welcome proposals for workshops on: end-user needs; ethical, legal, social and economical topics; artificial intelligence; and other applications and technical topics.

By running your own workshop to celebrate Europe's leadership in robotics, you can help to make the 2018 ERF an even bigger success than this year’s. For more information contact


Host European Robotics Forum 2019

euRobotics is now inviting expressions of interest from euRobotics members to host the European Robotics Forum 2019 (March 2019).

The host, which must be an euRobotics member, will be at the centre of Europe’s most influential robotics meeting, as hundreds of experts gather to discuss technical and non-technical robotics topics, including markets and ethics, and boost their collaboration.

In order to apply, please submit the application form dully filled in to euRobotics at We encourage you to check carefully the logistics requirements document before filling in your application.



ERW: make it happen

What would make a successful robotics event for the next European Robotics Week (ERW)? Turn your idea into a fun and informative happening and help to make ERW 2017 — to be held throughout Europe on 17-26 November 2017 — a success.

Every year during the ERW, researchers, universities and companies across Europe throw open their doors to run hundreds of events for the public — with a record 830-plus events held in 2016.

Events can be: small or big; for adults, children or both; in your factory; in your laboratory; in a school; in a shopping centre; or anywhere else.

To make your idea reality, contact your local ERW national coordinator.



PAL picks ERL teams for TIAGo Steel robots

PAL Robotics has chosen four teams to be offered TIAGo Steel robots (as shown right) for use in the European Robotics League (ERL) Service Robots competition. Three teams will each be given a robot for up to a year for just €650 a month and the fourth team will be able to use a robot for free.

The four teams are:

• The University of Koblenz–Landau, Germany

• The Institute of Robotics and Industrial Informatics, CSIC-UPC, Spain

• A consortium of the Disruptive Hub of everis company and the Polytechnic University of Catalonia, Spain

• The Carlos III University of Madrid, Spain

PAL Robotics said that the University of Koblenz-Landau team would be offered the free TIAGo Steel “because of its incredibly thorough application paper, prior ERL experience and clear passion for its research. Its application successfully conveyed both its breadth of experience and the extent to which it would benefit from competing in the tournament”.

PAL Robotics requires the teams to take part in at least one ERL Service Robots tournament. The teams must participate in at least two tournaments each, during the current 2017/18 season, to be eligible for a prize.

ERL in Barcelona

As a Platinum Sponsor of ERL Service Robots, PAL Robotics will host a local tournament in Barcelona on 20–27 November 2017 (during European Robotics Week). PAL Robotics will reveal further details on its blog.

ERL Service Robots tournaments

ERL Service Robots tournaments planned for the remainder of the season are:

• 28–31 August 2017, Major Tournament at ISR/IST, Lisbon, Portugal, co-located with IEEE RO-MAN 2017

• 11–15 September 2017, Local Tournament at University of Leon, Spain

• November 2017 (during the European Robotics Week), Local Tournament at PAL Robotics, Barcelona, Spain

• 4–7 December 2017, Local Tournament in Peccioli, Italy

The European Robotics League is funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement n° 688441.

Website: Twitter: Facebook:


Sankt Augustin opens for entries

Entries are now being accepted for participation in the European Robotics League Industrial Robots (ERL IR) local tournament in Sankt Augustin, close to Bonn in Germany, on 11–15 September 2017.

The event will be the fourth ERL IR tournament and will be held in the ERL test bed of the Bonn-Rhein-Sieg University of Applied Sciences, Sankt Augustin.

The deadline for applications and requests for travel support is 24 Aug 2017.

Bonn-Rhein-Sieg University of Applied Sciences and Kuka Robots are the organisers. Contact Sven Schneider, Bonn-Rhein-Sieg University of Applied Sciences ( or Tim Friedrich, Kuka (



Coming robotics events can be found here

28–31 August 2017

ERL Service Robots major tournament

Lisbon, Portugal

Part of IEEE RO-MAN 2017

Details here

28 August–1 September 2017

26th IEEE International Symposium on Robot and Human Interactive Communication ― RO-MAN 2017

Lisbon, Portugal

Includes a European Robotics League Service Robots challenge.

Details here

11–15 September 2017

ERL Industrial Robots tournament

Sankt Augustin, Bonn, Germany

Details here

15–23 September 2017

ERL Emergency Robots major tournament

Piombino, Italy

Details here

24–28 September 2017

IEEE/Robotics Society of Japan International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems

Vancouver, Canada

Details here

9–10 November 2017

ICT Proposers' Day, Horizon 2020 programme 2018–20

Budapest, Hungary

Details here

18–26 November 2017

European Robotics Week ― ERW2017

Details here

6 December 2017

SPARC Brokerage Day

Brussels, Belgium

Details to come



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euRobotics AISBL is a Brussels-based international non-profit association supporting research, development and innovation in robotics. It is based in Brussels and has more than 250 member organisations.

Under the European Union's framework program Horizon 2020, euRobotics and the European Commission formed the public-private partnership SPARC, which has €700 million of funding from the Commission in 2014–20 to extend Europe’s leadership in civilian robotics.

SPARC includes the European Robotics League, which is funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme. Website: Twitter: @ERLrobotleague. Facebook:

The RockEU2 Coordination Action is funded by the European Commission within the H2020 Framework programme (H2020-ICT-688441; February 2016–January 2018).