Rethinking Robotics for the Robot Companion of the Future

Project

The main objective of the RoboCom++ Project is to lay the foundation for a future global interdisciplinary research programme (e.g., a FET-Flagship project) on a new science-based transformative Robotics, to be launched by the end of the H2020 Programme.

RoboCom++ will gather the community and organise the knowledge necessary to rethink the design principles and fabrication technologies of future robots. RoboCom++ will aim at developing the cooperative robots (or Companion Robots) of the year 2030, by fostering a deeply multidisciplinary, transnational and federated effort.

The mechatronic paradigm adopted today, although successful, may prevent a wider use of robotic systems. For example, system complexity increases with functions, leading to more than linearly increasing costs and power usage and decreasing robustness. RoboCom++ will pursue a radically new design paradigm, grounded in the scientific studies of intelligence in nature. This approach will allow achieving complex functionalities in a new bodyware with limited use of computing resources, mass and energy, with the aim of exploiting compliance instead of fighting it. Simplification mechanisms will be based on the concepts of embodied intelligence, morphological computation, simplexity, and evolutionary and developmental approaches.

Exploring these concepts in order to develop new scientific knowledge and new robots that can effectively negotiate natural environments, better interact with human beings, and provide services and support in a variety of real-world, real-life activities, requires a coordinated and federated initiative. Ultimately, the Robots Companion conceived in RoboCom++ may foster a new wave of economic growth in Europe by boosting the deployment of ubiquitous robots and web-based robotic services.

The RoboCom++ community will pursue these ambitious objectives by cooperating along three main lines of action.

  • Building an interdisciplinary community of outstanding, highly motivated and committed experts and organisations.

A coordination of efforts and the construction of an interdisciplinary community by means of structured large-scale cooperation at the European level will be carried out. By taking advantage of the experience and outcomes of the CA-RoboCom Project (http://robotcompanions.eu/), its community and its scientific and technical heritage, RoboCom++ will go beyond and will involve a wider community of roboticists and non-roboticists (including material scientists, mathematicians, AI experts, biologists, physicists, neuroscientists, economists, sociologists, philosophers and others).

 

  • Targeted exploratory pilots.

In order to ground the discussion, the core scientific issues of the future Robot Companions will be addressed by a few initial scouting pilot studies carried out by the Project partners. Research on emerging disruptive ideas will be stimulated and carried out in the RoboCom++ Project, to the level of proof-of-concept to be applicable in the further definition of the FET-Flagship, by means of a few additional exploratory studies. The objectives of these Flagship Core Projects-like actions will be to investigate and assess new discoveries and technologies relevant to RoboCom++ and that could be developed at a much larger extent during the envisioned future FET-Flagship. The scouting pilots will address the following key topics:

  • computational foundations of actions; 
  • morphological computation and Soft Robotics;
  • soft technologies for wearable and mobile robots; 
  • bio-inspired self-healing materials;
  • biomimetic cognitive architecture for Human-Robot interaction. 

 

  • Defining the long-term S&T roadmap, competitiveness strategy, governing and financing structure, and the ethical, legal, economic and social framework of a future FET Flagship–like initiative on Robotics.

Through the implementation of the above described activities RoboCom++ will pave the way to an envisaged FET-Flagship on Robotics. Specifically, RoboCom++ will test and validate the viability of a model for the future FET-Flagship comprising such actions as the involvement of a large interdisciplinary and multi-national community, focused research projects, fund raising, social and industrial impact and efficient management. RoboCom++ will also focus on dissemination, education and outreach to and involvement of EU citizens, with special attention to young people and schools, and to elderly users. A large number of stakeholders (from science and technology, society, finance, politics, industry and other relevant communities) will be actively involved aiming at community and consensus building at European and international level. Particular attention will be paid to ethical issues raised by the pervasive use of Robot Companions.

Key Details

 

Acronym: RoboCom++
Project full title: Rethinking Robotics for the Robot Companion of the future
Main area: Cooperative Robots
Keywords:  Robotics, Soft Robotics, Bioinspired Robotics, Morphological Computation, Cognitive Robotics, Intelligent Materials, Ethical, Legal, Economic and Social Aspects
Coordinator: Paolo Dario, The BioRobotics Institute, Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna
Partners: See consortium here
Call identifier: FLAG-ERA Joint Transnational Call (JTC) 2016
Duration:  36 Months
Start: March 1, 2017
End:  February 28, 2020
Budget: 4.216.718,90 €
EU Funding: 2.825.012,05 €