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euROBIN: MIRMI researches manufacturing in the circular economy

Environment, Research |

In the recently launched EU-funded Horizon project euROBIN, the Munich Institute of Robotics and Machine Intelligence (MIRMI) is coordinating the work package „Robotic Manufacturing for a Circular Economy ". In addition, MIRMI's Robothon® Grand Challenge idea is being expanded to cooperate with euROBIN’s yearly Robotic Challenges. The Chief of Science at MIRMI, Dr. Utku Culha, tells us about the tasks of researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM).

What are the main goals of euROBIN?

The euROBIN is a project coordinated by DLR and funded by the European Commission's Horizon Programme. It aims to build a European Network of Excellence Centers in Robotics. In this network, there are 31 partners (i.e., 24 research institutes and 7 industrial partners) including MIRMI, who work towards the same main goal of creating cumulative robotics knowledge in Europe. The euROBIN network aims to advance AI tools, software architectures and hardware components in a reproducible approach. This enables the broad programming/teaching of robots by service providers and end-users for mastering the huge variety of use cases and environments. The major goal is to create a research/industry collaboration for tangible real-world robotics applications. This network will deliver both centralized and decentralized robotic and AI solutions that will encourage partners to share their research output with each other to build a cumulative excellence robotics database in Europe.

What is the role of MIRMI in this EU-funded project?

There are three application domains (i.e., robotic manufacturing, personal robotics, and outdoor robots) and four science domains (i.e., interact, learn, know, and human-center) defined in the euROBIN project. MIRMI is responsible for the coordination of the work package and the application domain "Robotic manufacturing for a circular economy". The objective is to identify meaningful core challenges in industrial domains that could be addressed by scientific perspectives on automated assembly and assisted work. Same with the other two application domains, robotic manufacturing will be closely working with the science domains to address both the tangible application demands and generate cutting-edge research output. MIRMI will be responsible for developing intelligent sensorized IoT boards that will collect tactile data from human and robot interactions during manufacturing tasks. These boards will be delivered to partnering research institutes and industrial partners.  We gather the network's interaction data as tactile information and allow the euROBIN network to collectively address manufacturing tasks. Dynamic manipulation, interaction with flexible objects, interfacing existing manufacturing tools, and closer human-robot collaboration are scientific targets of the project. Furthermore, there will be yearly competitive challenges where partners will demonstrate their skills and tools to highlight the most effective robotics and AI methods for robotic manufacturing for a circular economy.

What role does the Robothon® play (initiated by MIRMI some years ago)?

The Robothon® Grand Challenge was one of the inspirations for the yearly challenge structure that was adopted in the euROBIN project. The successful competitions organized by MIRMI in 2021 and 2022 proved that robotic competitions can be held in a decentralized fashion. In other words: The participants did not need to gather in a central competition location. The effective use of IoT boards for the monitoring of robot performances during these competitions supported the euROBIN's idea that a European network of robotic centers could be established in a decentralized manner. And it shows that the knowledge, skill, and information on robot performances on specific robotic applications could be gathered and shared via IoT boards. We are quite convinced: The Robothon® Grand Challenges and euROBIN Robotic Challenges will keep on happening and they will attract robotics developers from all around the world.