EU to double its R&D investment in robotics

At the occasion of AUTOMATICA 2008, one of the leading international trade fairs in robotics and automation held this year in Munich/Germany, the European Commission has announced a policy to boost European robotics. The European Union will double its investments between 2007 and 2010 with almost € 400 million to support European robotics research. This ambitious programme aims to forge stronger links between academia and industry, and plans to fund a widespread experimentation by academic researchers and industry. The European Commission also calls on the industry to intensify its efforts in producing critical components in Europe, such as gears, in order to face competition from Asia and avoid strategic dependencies on other regions of the world.

The European Union has a strong position in industrial robots for automation. One third of all industrial robots are produced in Europe. The robotics market's growth rate will form an important part of the world economy within the next two decades. In fact, the International Federation of Robotics (IFR) estimates the current world market for industrial robots at about € 4 billion and forecasts a 4.2% increase per year until 2010. "There is a clear window of opportunity for automation industries in Europe – in particular robotics – not just to maintain leadership, but to grow further and to move higher up the value chain", said Viviane Reding, EU Commissioner for Information Society and Media.

Robotics is strategic for Europe's future competitiveness. Manufacturing will only be maintained in higher wage regions such as Europe through automation. Automation also plays a key role in ensuring a sustainable production and minimizing wasteful use of resources. Finally it will contribute to help Europe's ageing society by compensating for a declining labour force.

As part of its 400 Meuros research programme, the European Commission is taking steps to set up a technology transfer scheme between academia and industry enabling European research labs to use industrial-strength robots for large-scale experimentation.The resulting scientific knowledge will directly be fed back to participating companies.

Beyond research, European industry recognizes the need for reducing dependencies on critical components such as drives, gears and motors. The European Commission also encourages industry to agree on technical standards and develop business models in this field in order to ensure sustained provision of such critical components.

AUTOMATICA 2008 is the international trade fairs in robotics which is running between 10th and 13th June 2008.

More information on Cognitive Systems and Robotics is available the CORDIS official website.