ERF 2021: European Robotics’ Key Annual Event And Our Highlights

A thank you banner for PAL Robotics' sponsoring the ERF and an image of ARI

Official event opening

We were delighted to add to the conversation on European robotics at the ERF 2021 virtual event, this year as Diamond Sponsors. The European Robotics Forum (ERF) is the most influential meeting of the robotics community in Europe, and this year the event had a programme that was as diverse, engaging and entertaining as ever despite being virtual – for which we’d like to thank the event organising committee, including Stefano Stramigioli and Jan Broenink for their great work! Read on for our highlights of this year’s event.

The official event opening included a welcome note by the President of euRobotics Dr. Bernd Liepert introducing the event, along with inspiring words from a range of speakers such as Lucilla Sioli, the Director for ‘Artificial Intelligence and Digital Industry’ at the European Commission, and Marina Bill, The Head of Sales and Marketing at ABB. PAL Robotics’ CEO Francesco Ferro also spoke, highlighting the goal of service robotics in improving peoples’ lives, the strong traditions of euRobotics that we firmly believe in at PAL Robotics, the state of the art, and the journey of robotics, from research to adding value in the real world.

A collage of moments from the European Robotics Forum 2021

Competitions, pandemic robots and more: Workshops hosted by PAL Robotics

We aimed as ever to open up discussion on the most exciting and relevant developments in robotics of the past year that we’ve been involved with, including pandemic robots, robotics competitions, robots for agri-food and the state of the art in humanoid robotics.

TALOS, legged robots and Project Memmo in ‘Humanoid robots today and tomorrow’

15 April from 11:20 to 12:40

We enjoyed welcoming a range of speakers to this workshop from research to end users. This workshop particularly highlighted TALOS’ developments through the EU project Memmo (Memory of Motion) as a use case on the future role of humanoid robots in industry 4.0.

Following presentations, the panel discussion included: Mark Van Loock (Toyota), Maximo Roa (DLR), Mohsen Kaboli (BMW Group) and Francesco Ferro (PAL Robotics), sharing their points of views and experience in relation to topics such as ‘barriers of humanoid robots to industry, ’ and ‘benefits of Memmo compared to the state of the art.’ Nicolas Mansard (LAAS), Dr. Steve Tonneau (University of Edinburgh), Maurice Fallon (University of Oxford) and Adria Roig (PAL Robotics) gave research labs presentations on TALOS in Memmo, and perception and navigation for legged robots. This workshop was hosted by Francesco Ferro and Sofia Battilana who also acted as panel discussion moderator.

Robots in vineyards and food production ‘AI and robotics in agri-food – the present and the future’

14 April from 14:05 to 15:25

Collaborative projects, such as CANOPIES – where TIAGo robots will be tested in Italian vineyards – were included in this workshop, with Sarah Terreri (PAL Robotics) introducing the session on the latest developments in the Agri-food food industry. Sarah was joined by fellow speakers Dr. Alessandro di Fava (PAL Robotics), Ole Green (AgroIntelli), Thiemo Buchner (Continental), Andrea Gasparri (Università degli Studi Roma Tre) , Jorge Antonio Sánchez Molina (Universidad de Almería), Jesús Pablo González (Eurecat) and Claudio Semini (IIT). We would like to thank them all!

COVID-19 robots ‘How robots adapt to changing scenarios – pandemic situations and beyond’

14 April from 11:20 to 12:40

We heard from Koen Beyers (Voxdale), Jordi Escuder Tisaire (Eurecat) and Dr. Jordi Pagès (PAL Robotics) here on collaborative projects quick developments to create new uses for robotic solutions during the pandemic, such as Robotic intradermal vaccination. Dr. Jordi Pagès, also took the opportunity to demonstrate our TIAGo Delivery robot which was tested in local hospitals in action. The workshop was hosted by Sofia Battilana (PAL Robotics) together with Dr. Jordi Pagès.

Robotics competitions ‘Applying AI and HRI results of competitions in service robotics’

13 April from 14:05 to 15:25

The excitement and pressure of live robotics competitions was the starting point for presentations here, as well as further discussion on how to apply key competition developments into the real world of service robotics. Presentations included ‘ERL and SciRoc: Lessons Learned and Future of AI’ and ‘Lessons learned from the Mobile Manipulation Hackathon’. Pedro Lima (Universidade de Lisboa), Diego Torricelli (CSIC), Mehmet Dogar (University of Leeds), Juan G. Victores (UC3M), Fabio Zonfrilli (P&G) and Dr.Jordi Pagès (PAL Robotics) took part in this workshop hosted by Carlos Vivas (PAL Robotics). Thank you all!

Partnerships ‘How to make an impact in EU projects and boost innovation’

13 April from 10:25 to 11:05

Our EU projects team, led by Sarah Terreri with Dr. Alessandro di Fava and Gizem Bozdemir (all PAL Robotics) hosted this workshop on the importance of collaborations to innovation in robotics, as well as a call for potential partners to get in touch with us. Sarah and team shared knowledge of programmes such as H2020 and the upcoming Horizon Europe, funded by the European Commission, as well as some of the most popular sectors for collaborative projects at present.

You can find the material from the workshops we hosted, including the speaker presentations here.

Collage of various moment from the event ERF 2021

Social assistant robots, ROS and more: Workshops we joined as guest speakers

‘Socially useful Robots in the era of social distancing and new normal – The needs, barriers, applications and solutions’

14 April from 14:05 to 15:25

Emphasized here was how the pandemic has highlighted the potential of social robots, and how robots can be helpful companions or ‘social assistants.’ Francesco Ferro presented collaborative projects such as SPRING and SHAPES with our robots ARI, TIAGo and TIAGo Delivery during this period. We were very happy to join this workshop hosted by the euRobotics topic group and led by Amit Kumar Pandey and Franziska Kirstein.

Collaborations ‘FSTP success stories – Cross-sectorial session’

14 April from 10:25 to 11:05

DIH Hero thanks to Alessandra Zini hosted a workshop on some of their recent success stories. Dr. Jordi Pages, our Head of Intralogistics, presented here on PAL Robotics project with Accerion, ‘FAST AV’ on robots in hospitals.

‘European Leadership in Open Source for Robotics and AI’

13 April from 11:20 to 12:40

This panel discussion organised by Gaël Blondelle VP of Eclipse Foundation Europe GmbH emphasized the importance of open source to robotics – including how increasing use will benefit robotics companies in creating the latest developments. Francesco spoke about the importance of using open source in Robotics such as ROS & ROS2. We thank Eclipse Foundation for inviting us to contribute!

Our robots at the ERF 2021!

Our robots ARI, TALOS, TIAGo, and TIAGo Base joined the event with us virtually from our event meeting rooms and some of them even did live demos!

Collaborations: the key to innovation!

We take part in a number of collaborative projects many of which we shared during the event. Here are some of our recent and current projects we are involved in that featured at this years’ ERF:

  • Memmo aims to develop memory of motion – a unified approach to motion generation for complex robots with arms and legs.
  • CANOPIES has the goal of developing a Human-Robot prototype in crop farming (Agri-Food) within a table grape vineyard.
  • SHAPES works on deployment of digital solutions to support independent living for older individuals and includes pilots of robot ARI in homes.
  • SPRING is working on the adaptation of Socially Assistive Robots including ARI in different user-cases in a hospital environment.
  • PERSEO aims to train a new generation of research and professional figures to face research challenges in the market of personal robots.
  • SCAFo covers fleet management for the food processing industry and includes our robot TIAGo Base with development and testing of the solution over 17 months.
  • DIH-HERO involved developing solutions that were deployed in hospitals – autonomous robots for transportation of goods.
  • SeCoIIA for aeronautics, automotive and naval construction, and a secure digital transition of their manufacturing processes with various use cases.
  • Evolved-5G includes testing Network Applications (NetApps) as well as, validating, and certifying in an experimentation platform.
  • SANDRO aims to conduct trials in care centers and test facilities to provide assistive robotic services to people with difficulties in Activities of Daily Living.
  • Eurobench aims to create the first benchmarking framework for robotic systems in Europe and is focussed on bipedal machines: exoskeletons, humanoids etc.
  • NeuTouch aims at improving artificial tactile systems, and developing a new type of technology that is based on the same principles to be used for building robots.

Collaborate with us?

If you’re searching for project partners don’t hesitate to ask us more – we are passionate about the value of collaborative projects for sharing expertise and for innovation and we are always looking for new opportunities to collaborate! This may be within Horizon Europe, funded by the European Commission, through other frameworks, or simply with other organisations. Contact us or send us an email.

ARI live webinar on Tuesday 27 April 2021

If you would like to learn more about how to “Get started with ARI” don’t miss our webinar which is coming up later this month, including a live demo of social robot ARI. Register for the webinar here.

PAL Robotics would like to thank all of our partners, workshop hosts, workshop speakers and European robotics colleagues once again for what was a great ERF event! We look forward to seeing you all at the live event in 2022 in Rotterdam!

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