Munich Researchers Compete for 1 Billion Euro Budget

05/17/2011 : 12:04

The development of intelligent machines with the ability to operate autonomously and to interact closely with humans is the goal of a Europe-wide robotic research project planned by a consortium of ten research institutions including the Technical University of Munich (Technische Universität München, TUM).

In its first-year pilot phase, the project "Robot Companions for Citizens" (RoboCom) is being supported by the European Union with € 1.5 million. Then, RoboCom will compete with five other research projects, ranging in topics from supercomputing to material science, for one of two € 100 million research budgets granted yearly for ten years. 

So far, robots are mainly used in well-defined environments such as industrial production or medical surgery settings. Therefore, interaction and communication with humans is also restricted to well-defined processes. The RoboCom Initiative, however, aims to develop a new generation of robots called “sentient machines” which will be able to closely collaborate and interact naturally with humans, by taking advantage of radically new design, motor and energy technologies. These abilities will enable them to care for elderly people, for example, or to act and autonomously rescue people in chaotic circumstances such as natural disasters.