Robots as our companions? - Potentials for a new industry

11/30/2011 : 16:35

The organizers of the Flagship event in Berlin.

Information event on the Flagship project "Robot Companions for Citizens" in Berlin, November 2011.

Participants from industry, industrial associations and politics met in Berlin at the end of November to learn more about the flagship projects which are planned by the EU, in particular about "Robot Companions for Citizens" (RoboCom). The event was organized by VDE (Association for Electrical, Electronic & Information Technologies) and the cluster of excellence CoTeSys/ TU München, which is a strategic partner in the pilot project aiming at a “fully-rigged” Flagship project.

The European commission has recognized the tremendous impact of the mastery of a new generation of robots for Europe's societies and economy. Therefore, this topic is on the list of six candidates for the so called Flagship projects. From 2014 on, these projects will be funded with 100 mio. € per year.

After a tour through the Science Center of Otto Bock HealthCare, in which the event took place, and a welcome by host Johannes Schneider-Littfeld, Corporate Vice President and Chief Executive Officer Neurostimulation of Otto Bock HealthCare GmbH, several speakers introduced the Flagship initiative and the RoboCom project. 

Wolfgang Boch, EU Commission, head of FET Proactive, introduced the objectives of the Flagship program as a new program to bundle European competencies in strategic fields of research. Prof. Paolo Dario, Coordinator of the RoboCom pilot project, explained the scientific goals of the RoboCom project. The Flagship will aim at a completely new generation of robots, with new materials, new sensors, and new energy supplies – and they should be affordable not only to industry, but also to consumers. Dr. Uwe L. Haass, General Manager CoTeSys, focused on management issues of such a large project and the organisation of interdisciplinary competence centres all over Europe – where industry is to play a major role.

Prof. Amos Albert, Robert Bosch GmbH, stated that with research on a new generation of robots also the industry needs to be re-organized, comparable to the automotive industry, in which suppliers deliver standardized components. 

Birgid Eberhardt, VDE, explained how the upcoming demographic changes could be overcome with the help of service robots: helping people to stay longer at home, to support the nurses and caring personnel, and support older workers.

More information on the event in German.