Bonn-Rhein-Sieg University of Applied Sciences
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Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: RIA | Phase: BES-09-2014 | Award Amount: 11.83M | Year: 2015

Efficient NII (non-intrusive inspection) of containerised freight is critical to trade and society. Freight containers are potential means for smuggling (e.g. tobacco), illegal immigration, trafficking of drugs, mis-declared goods and dangerous illicit substances, including explosives, nuclear material, chemical and biological warfare agents and radioactively contaminated goods. One inspection NII technology cannot cope with all these targets. The C-BORD Toolbox and Framework will address all these targets and enable customs to deploy comprehensive cost-effective container NII solutions to potentially protect all EU sea- and land-borders, satisfying a large range of container NII needs. The C-BORD Toolbox will include 5 complementary innovative detection technologies: delivering improved X-rays, Target Neutron Interrogation, Photofission, Sniffing and Passive Detection. User interfaces and data will be integrated to optimise effectiveness and efficiency of end-users and systems. The C-BORD Framework will help customs analyse their needs, design integrated solutions, and optimise the container inspection chain; it will address detection levels, false alarm levels, throughput, health & safety, logistics and cost & benefits. C-BORD will increase the probability of finding illicit or dangerous content with at least equal throughput of containers per time unit, reduce the need for costly, time-consuming and dangerous manual container inspections by customs officials, and in case a container is opened, increase the probability of finding illicit materials. C-BORD involves stakeholders from 8 EU countries, as partners (5) and advisory group members (3). On 3 custom sites integrated solutions will be trialled, respectively addressing the needs of big seaports, small seaports and mobile land-borders. To optimise sustainable impact, C-BORD will actively engage with a large community, will support policy implementation, evolution and start early exploitation planning.

Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: CSA | Phase: ICT-24-2015 | Award Amount: 2.50M | Year: 2016

The FP7 coordination action RockEU has been extremely successful in building a strong European robotics community, leading to the creation of euRobotics aisbl - the private partner of the SPARC PPP and development of the Strategic Research Agenda and the Multi-Annual Roadmap, which are the main guidelines for shaping European robotics R&D&I. RockEU2 builds on and extends this successful community integration by providing analysis of innovation and skills and by developing major outreach activities. This extension is achieved by intensifying and strengthening collaboration within the community and by taking a leading role in the development of strategy. This includes activities in market observation, technology watch, innovation support, analysis of funded proposals, regulations assessment, and standardisation support. RockEU2 aims to Intensifying cooperation with international funding agencies (e.g. for joint calls), policy makers, and end-users as key enablers in the R&D&I process that contribute to the outreach and innovation themes. Outreach to the cognitive science community is another key part of this proposal. Improving the uptake of cognitive sciences results by the robotics community is an important target, leading to more innovative robotics products and applications, boosting innovation. Integration of activities started by the FP7-funded CAs euRathlon and RoCKIn on using robot competitions to foster research and innovation has great potential for improved public awareness of European robotics. Participation in robot competitions is attractive for young researchers and develops excellent engineering skills. The impact of robot competitions both for public awareness as well as for industry will be analysed and its results will influence the roadmap for future European robot competitions and outreach campaigns. The consortium consists of partners playing key roles in their respective communities and contributing unique competences to the consortium

Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP | Phase: ICT-2007.2.2 | Award Amount: 25.84M | Year: 2009

The European robotics industry plays a key role in maintaining our continents industrial base. The robotics industry is strong, but fragmented and dispersed. In the future, cutting-edge technology resulting from top-level research will be the decisive factor for success. Europe not only has a powerful robotics industry, but can also boast superb research. By drawing on these resources, ECHORD aims at producing new knowledge through advancing the state of the art in selected research foci and developing novel technology from which new products can be derived. Within ECHORD, opportunities for knowledge advancement and technology transfer between academia and industry will be created across the whole continent. This will be achieved through the solicitation of focused, small-size RTD projects, so-called experiments, which can be rapidly negotiated, funded and executed. Via these experiments, ECHORD will bring about a large-scale introduction of robotic equipment into research institutions. This is expected to result in both tangible and measurable out-comes in terms of the accelerated development of technologies, as well as the deployment of robotics technology into new scenarios for the direct application of research results. For ECHORD, three such scenarios have been defined: human-robot co-working, hyper flexible cells, and cognitive factories. The foremost purpose of the scenarios is to define an environment that is both scientifically challenging to research institutions and commercially relevant to robot manufacturers.

News Article | March 2, 2017

If you’re happy and you know it, clap someone else’s hands. A muscle stimulation system aims to evoke empathy by triggering involuntary hand gestures in one person in response to mood changes in another. “If you’re moving in the same way as another person you might understand that person better,” says Max Pfeiffer at the University of Hannover in Germany. Pfeiffer and his team wired up four people to an EEG machine that measured changes in the electrical activity in their brain as they watched film clips intended to provoke three emotional responses: amusement, anger and sadness. These people were the “emotion senders”. Each sender was paired with an “emotion recipient” who wore electrodes on their arms that stimulated their muscles and caused their arms and hands to move when the mood of their partner changed. The gestures they made were based on American Sign Language for amusement, anger and sadness. To express amusement, volunteers had their muscles stimulated to raise one arm, to express anger they raised an arm and made a claw gesture, and to express sadness they slowly slid an arm down their chest. These resemble natural movements associated with the feelings, so the team hypothesised that they would evoke the relevant emotion. Asked to rate how well the gestures corresponded to the emotions, the volunteers largely matched the gestures to the correct mood. The system could be used to emotionally connect couples in long-distance relationships, says Pfeiffer. It could even be linked with a person’s social media profile, he says, so that multiple friends could experience their emotions at the same time. The researchers will present their work at the Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI) in Denver, Colorado, in May. Ernst Kruijff at the Bonn-Rhein-Sieg University of Applied Sciences in Germany says the idea could open up a new way of communicating. “It’s important to explore the boundaries of what is possible with the human body within the frame of human-computer interaction,” he says. But Brian Parkinson at the University of Oxford is sceptical that simple gestures can evoke a single emotion in this way. He uses the example of a clenched fist being associated with anger. “Imagine that you are trying to hold onto a small feather in your hand to stop it blowing away,” he says. “Would that make you more angry?” It’s also not necessarily always desirable to experience the same emotions as the person you’re communicating with, says Parkinson. “Sometimes a more detached form of sympathy is better for communication.” Next, Pfeiffer plans to use electrical muscle stimulation to make the arm movements of one person mimic those of their partner. In the future, he says, electrodes woven into clothing could let couples subtly share experiences using muscle stimulation.

Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP | Phase: ICT-2007.2.2 | Award Amount: 10.83M | Year: 2009

BRICS addresses a very urgent need of the research community, namely the need for common research platforms, which support integration of research results and which support the evaluation, comparison and benchmarking of result and the promotion of best practice in robotics. In a poll in the robotics research community in December 2007 95% of the participants have voted for such platforms.\n\nSuch common research platform would be beneficial for the robotics community, both for the academic community as much as for the industrial community. The academic community would save a significant amount of resources, which typically have to be invested in from scratch developments and me-too approaches. Furthermore the scientific results would become better comparable which might promote a culture of sound experimentation and comparative evaluation. Jointly specified platforms will foster a rapid technology transfer. A rapid technology transfer will support the development of new systems and applications, which is to the benefit of the industrial community.\n\nTo achieve the our objectives we propose the development of a design methodology which focuses on three fundamental major research and development issues, which will be implemented in three highly interwoven lines of technical activities:\n\n\tIdentification of best practice in robotics hardware and software components\n\tDevelopment of a tool chain that supports a rapid and flexible configuration of\nnew robot platforms\n\tCross-sectional activities addressing robust autonomy, system openness, and harmonisation and benchmarking\n\nKuka in BRICS takes the leadership in a community initiative, which is not free of risk for the company, but which is badly needed for a convergence of technology in the field of robotics. This endeavour is of fundamental importance to ensure the success and competitiveness of the European robotics industry as well as research.

Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CSA | Phase: ICT-2011.2.1 | Award Amount: 2.02M | Year: 2013

Robot competitions have proved to be an effective instrument to foster scientific research and push the state of the art in a field. Teams participating in a competition must identify best practice solutions covering a wide range of functionalities and integrate them into practical systems. These systems have to work in the real world, outside of the usual laboratory conditions. The competition experience helps to transfer the applied methods and tools to successful and high-impact real-world applications. Other effects of robot competitions are that young students are attracted to science and engineering disciplines, and that the relevance of robotics research is demonstrated to citizens. However, some limitations can emerge as competitions mature: the effort required to enter the competition grows and may present a barrier for the participation of new teams; a gap between benchmarking complete systems in competitions and benchmarking subsystems in research may develop and limit the usefulness of the competition results to industry.\n\nThe goal of RoCKIn is to speed up the progress towards smarter robots through scientific competitions. Two challenges have been selected for the competitions due to their high relevance and impact on Europes societal and industrial needs: domestic service robots (RoCKIn@Home) and innovative robot applications in industry (RoCKIn@Work). Both challenges have been inspired by activities in the RoboCup community, but RoCKIn improves and extends them by introducing new and prevailing research topics, like natural interaction with humans or networking mobile robots with sensors in ambient environments, in addition to specifying concrete benchmark criteria for assessing progress.\n\nThe RoCKIn project\n\tdesigns open domain testbeds for competitions targeting the two challenges and usable by researchers worldwide,\n\tdevelops methods for benchmarking through competitions that allow to assess both particular subsystems as well as the integrated system,\n\torganizes two robot competition events, each of them based on the two challenges and testbeds,\n\torganizes camps open to student participants, so as to help new teams getting involved in the competitions, and\n\texecutes dissemination activities to target stakeholders in industry and academia, as well as the general public.

Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: IA | Phase: ICT-25-2016-2017 | Award Amount: 3.93M | Year: 2017

The market for automatically guided vehicles in logistic applications is growing rather slowly in spite of the market potential that has been forecasted. There are markets and applications, which literally cry for automation by AGVs not only for economic, but also for social reasons: hospitals and care facilities. Irrespective of the burning needs there are major barriers, however, which prevent such automation. Two of them are cost and legacy in existing logistic solutions. Todays hospital logistic robots are bulky, heavy, and with a price of 50\ KEUR for a single vehicle they are very expensive. At the same time these AGVs are often highly specialized and can only deal with few containers or supply carts. In a typical logistic environment there are however, dozens of different containers and such carts. In a nutshell there is a bad need for AGVs, which are low-cost and can deal with a great variety of legacy. The general objective of this proposal is to develop and implement a disruptive concept for AGVs that lowers the still existing barrier in logistics by offering * cost-effective, automated or semi-automated indoor transportation of goods, * while coping with existing legacy in terms of size, shape, and weight of goods and containers, * without imposing disruptive changes in existing logistic solutions, such as rebuilding entire warehouses or switching to new containers or storage technology. We will put an equal emphasis on cost-effective as well as on human-friendly automation of logistic tasks. While cost-effectiveness shall be achieved by preferably using and adapting technology designed for mass-markets, human-friendliness shall be achieved by equipping the AGVs with a (semi-)autonomous shared control mode, in which the robot serves as a force amplifier for the human user and thereby reduces the physical strain on the user.

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