Research & Innovation - Participant Portal


TOPIC : SRC – Space robotics technologies

Topic identifier: SPACE-12-TEC-2018
Publication date: 27 October 2017

Types of action: RIA Research and Innovation action
Opening date:
31 October 2017
Deadline: 06 March 2018 17:00:00

Time Zone : (Brussels time)
  Horizon 2020 H2020 website
Pillar: Industrial Leadership
Work Programme Year: H2020-2018-2020
Topic Updates
Topic Description
Specific Challenge:

The overall challenge of this strategic research cluster (SRC) is to enable major advances in space robotic technologies for future on-orbit missions (robotics and proximity rendezvous) and the exploration of the surfaces of the other bodies in our solar system.

The first activities in the SRC have addressed designing, manufacturing and testing of reliable and high performance common robotic building blocks for operation in space environments (orbital and/or planetary) which will be used for the activities subject to this call. The specific challenge is now to integrate the previously prepared common building blocks into demonstrators on ground, towards applications of space robotics in the field of orbital and planetary use. These robotics applications address not only the future needs of exploration and exploitation of space but also potential spin-off and spill-over effects to other areas of robotic activity on Earth, such as automotive, mining, construction, nuclear, or underwater.


Each proposal shall address only one of the following sub-topics:

a) Orbital Support Services: demonstrate the techniques needed to offer a commercial service to operational satellites. This shall as minimum address robotic deployment and refuelling of satellites in orbit. By means of a general purpose robotic arm, a servicing satellite must be capable to demonstrate release, grasping, berthing and manipulation of a target satellite including services such as refuelling.

b) Robotised assembly of large modular orbital structures: integrate a robot system and a set of functional modules that can assemble a large structure (such as a large reflector) otherwise not feasible with a single launch.

c) Robotised reconfiguration of satellites: develop a satellite-mounted robot system and its related implements that can modify the functionality of a satellite by adding/replacing modules available on-board or provided by another servicing satellite.

d) Autonomous decision making: integrate a rover system with long traverse capabilities (kilometres a day) managing independently the decisions required to reduce risks and seize opportunities. Such a rover system will be required to travel independently from a starting point (e.g. a lander) towards an end point (say a cache of sample), perform independent opportunistic science on the way and return to the lander with the acquired soil sample.

e) Exploring robot-robot interaction. Proposals could address one of the following two scenarios. Advanced mobility: a suite of robots endowed with diverse mobility that can cooperate autonomously in the exploration of very hard-to-reach planetary areas. This team of robots will be entrusted to undertake multiple descents and ascents into a crater/gully performing coordinated mapping and science. Robotised construction: a team of specialised robots with multiple robotic arms and end-effectors that, through a minimum of drilling, excavating and manipulating, can cooperatively put together a future planetary base/ISRU [1] plant.

Proposals shall build on the results of the five projects of the 2016 call developing common building blocks of the Robotics SRC and shall therefore describe how this is done. A guidance document is published together with this work programme[2].

The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU of between EUR 3 and 4 million for sub-topics a) to c) and EUR 2 and 3 million for sub-topics d) to e) would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

Expected Impact:

Space robotics technologies developed under this topic are expected to increase the performance of space missions in a cost effective manner. Synergies with terrestrial robotics would increase the sustainability of the European space sector at large.

Additionally, for the orbital track (sub-topics a, b and c):

  • Enable multiple business cases not possible with current monolithic satellite systems
  • Foster rapid development and production on demand to reduce cost and time
  • Setting technology standards for commercialisation of space (interfaces, building blocks etc.)

Additionally, for the planetary track (sub-topics d and e):

  • Improve yield of planetary missions by providing 10x more science
  • Allow estimation of feasibility of planetary exploitation activities
  • Spin-out of space robotics technologies, e.g. autonomy, to terrestrial activities such as agriculture and mining.
  • Spin-in of terrestrial activities (e.g. automated waste handling) to the space robotics sector.

[1]ISRU = In Situ Resource Utilisation.


Topic conditions and documents

1. Eligible countries: described in Annex A of the Work Programme.
A number of non-EU/non-Associated Countries that are not automatically eligible for funding have made specific provisions for making funding available for their participants in Horizon 2020 projects. See the information in the Online Manual.


2. Eligibility and admissibility conditions: described in Annex B and Annex C of the Work Programme.


No beneficiaries of the grant agreement PERASPERA (640026) will participate in consortia of proposals submitted under this topic of the call for proposals, with the exception of the DLR research institutes.

A maximum of one proposal per sub-topic shall be selected for funding..

Proposal page limits and layout: please refer to Part B of the proposal template in the submission system below.


3. Evaluation:

  • Evaluation criteria, scoring and thresholds are described in Annex H of the Work Programme.  
  • Submission and evaluation processes are described in the Online Manual.

4. Indicative time for evaluation and grant agreements:

Information on the outcome of evaluation (single-stage call): maximum 5 months from the deadline for submission.
Signature of grant agreements: maximum 8 months from the deadline for submission.

5. Proposal templates, evaluation forms and model grant agreements (MGA):

Research and Innovation Action:

Specific provisions and funding rates
Standard proposal template
Standard evaluation form
General MGA - Multi-Beneficiary
Annotated Grant Agreement

6. Additional provisions:

Horizon 2020 budget flexibility
Classified information
Technology readiness levels (TRL) – where a topic description refers to TRL, these definitions apply

Members of consortium are required to conclude a consortium agreement, in principle prior to the signature of the grant agreement.

Grants awarded under this topic will be complementary to each other and complementary to grants awarded under topics COMPET-4-2014 and COMPET-4-2016. In order to ensure a smooth and successful implementation of this Strategic Research Cluster, the beneficiaries of complementary grants shall conclude a written "collaboration agreement". The respective options of Article 2, Article 31.6 and Article 41.4 2 of the Model Grant Agreement will be applied.

8. Additional documents:

Space Robotics Technologies - Strategic Research Cluster: guidance document for Horizon 2020 Work Programme 2018

1. Introduction WP 2018-20
5. Introduction to Leadership in enabling and industrial technologies (LEITs) WP 2018-20
5iii. Space WP 2018-20

General annexes to the Work Programme 2018-2020

Legal basis: Horizon 2020 Regulation of Establishment
Legal basis: Horizon 2020 Rules for Participation
Legal basis: Horizon 2020 Specific Programme

7. Open access must be granted to all scientific publications resulting from Horizon 2020 actions.

Where relevant, proposals should also provide information on how the participants will manage the research data generated and/or collected during the project, such as details on what types of data the project will generate, whether and how this data will be exploited or made accessible for verification and re-use, and how it will be curated and preserved.

Open access to research data
The Open Research Data Pilot has been extended to cover all Horizon 2020 topics for which the submission is opened on 26 July 2016 or later. Projects funded under this topic will therefore by default provide open access to the research data they generate, except if they decide to opt-out under the conditions described in Annex L of the Work Programme. Projects can opt-out at any stage, that is both before and after the grant signature.

Note that the evaluation phase proposals will not be evaluated more favourably because they plan to open or share their data, and will not be penalised for opting out.

Open research data sharing applies to the data needed to validate the results presented in scientific publications. Additionally, projects can choose to make other data available open access and need to describe their approach in a Data Management Plan.

Projects need to create a Data Management Plan (DMP), except if they opt-out of making their research data open access. A first version of the DMP must be provided as an early deliverable within six months of the project and should be updated during the project as appropriate. The Commission already provides guidance documents, including a template for DMPs. See the Online Manual.

Eligibility of costs: costs related to data management and data sharing are eligible for reimbursement during the project duration.

The legal requirements for projects participating in this pilot are in the article 29.3 of the Model Grant Agreement.


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