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UK business and academics join world’s largest civilian robotics programme
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Published on 04-06-14

The world's largest civilian research and innovation programme in robotics was launched this week by the European Commission and involving some 180 EU companies and research organisations. Covering areas such as manufacturing, agriculture, health, transport, civil security and households, the SPARC initiative is the EU’s industrial policy effort to strengthen Europe’s position in the global robotics market. This new public-private partnership, under the umbrella of euRobotics, is expected to create over 240,000 jobs in Europe, and increase Europe’s share of the global market to 42% (a boost of €4 billion per year, £3.244 billion).

    UK business and academics join world’s largest civilian robotics programme

    UK participants include:

    RURobots, Shadow Robot, Clawar Association, Bristol Robotics Laboratory, University of Hertfordshire, University of Nottingham Manufacturing Division, the Manufacturing Technology Centre, OC Robotics, University of Liverpool, Chevron

    Vice-President and EU Digital Agenda Commissioner Neelie Kroes said: "Europe needs to be a producer and not merely a consumer of robots. Robots do much more than replace humans – they often do things humans can’t or won’t do; and that improves everything from our quality of life to our safety. Integrating robots into European industry helps us create and keep jobs in Europe.”

    The next funding call will be published in October 2014 with an April 2015 deadline. Stay tuned in via @RoboticsEU.

    The potential of robotics

    The potential of robotics goes far beyond the factory: from helping nurses in hospitals to inspecting dangerous power plants and tedious farm work.

    In healthcare, robotics can make surgery less invasive and more precise, increasing a patient's survival outcome and reducing recovery time. In rehabilitation, robotic technologies offer the potential for more intensive therapies at reduced costs, again increasing recovery potential (Tiny robots for less invasive surgery; Dr Robot, brain surgeon)

    Improvements in robotics will enable robots to undertake more complex tasks for home care and help people with physical and cognitive deficits. Appropriate use of robotic systems will allow a higher standard of care, assisting nurses who have to lift patients or heavy equipment (A Robot companion for the elderly - balancing autonomy and ethics; Mind-controlled exoskeleton to help disabled people walk again; Robotic Wheelchairs helping users drive safely)

    In life threatening situations, following explosions or natural disasters, such as earthquakes, avalanches, robots could replace human rescuers, cutting risk to human life and helping boost the chances of rescuing victims. Robots under development will have powerful manipulation skills and be capable of working effectively by remote control (Robot rescuers help save lives after disasters; EU-funded project uses robots, not humans, to inspect petrochemical containers )

    Down on the farm, robotics is at the heart of precision agriculture, providing increased yields. Applying robotics and automation to the food chain allows much higher levels of traceability leading to greater consumer confidence. At the same time, robotics can improve the quality of life of farm workers by doing the most arduous tasks. The application of robotics and automation within food manufacturing also makes local manufacturing more competitive, making shorter, local food supply lines economically viable for many food products (A robot to monitor the vineyards).

    Meanwhile, in the sea, robotic fishes will analyse the waters they swim through, identifying chemical pollutants or leaks from oil pipelines in European harbours (A shoal of underwater robots to protect the environment).

    Even on our roads, robots could have an impact helping to save lives. The move to smarter and safer personal vehicles with the use of driver assistance systems will help decrease accidents and injuries. Autonomous cars are also expected to make better use of road space and improve traffic flows. Robotic technologies will also underpin longer term developments in smart, integrated transport systems with on‚Äźdemand, autonomous public transport (When your car parks and re-charges… without you).


    More information

    SPARC is open to all European companies and research institutions. The project was launched at the AUTOMATICA 2014 conference in Munich on 3 June.

    The partnership is based on a contract signed with euRobotics aisbl on 17 December 2013.

    The first call for proposals related to SPARC are run under LEIT - Leadership in Enabling and Industrial Technologies of the new EU research and innovation programme Horizon 2020.

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    Last update: 05/06/2014  |Top