Brussels, 16 March – The Trade Fair and Congress Centre of Malaga (FYCMA) hosted the 11th Annual European Robotics Forum ‘Future Robotics: Unlocking Human Potential’. This iconic event put Spain at the heart of Europe’s most influential forum for robotics and artificial intelligence (AI).

A unique window into a burgeoning European market, this year’s event set out to explore the potential of robotics and AI for business and social capital. Delivered through a series of workshops and presentations, the multidisciplinary agenda gave delegates the chance to explore key subject areas, from the future application of robotics and AI, to ethics, inclusion and social impact. The forum also boasted an exhibition showcasing the most advanced prototypes, products and services of the EU Horizon 2020 research programme. Those on display included: ARI by PAL Robotics – the humanoid robot with expressive gestures and behaviors, e-puck2 by GTronic used to simulate the use of trucks in hazardous mining conditions, and IVO by the Institute of Robotics and Industrial Informatics (IRI) of the Polytechnic University of Catalonia developed to guide children and carry heavy luggage in pedestrian zones.

The Coronavirus outbreak was a concern, which everybody took seriously. So in order to guarantee a smooth organisation of the forum, specific precautionary measures were taken and communicated. The organisers also put in place video connections for remote speeches and participation.

An important insight into the human potential of robotics and artificial intelligence, the Forum also recognised the rising stars of its community. Held at Malaga’s Fashion and Car Museum, this year’s Awards ceremony recognised:

  • Cosimo Della Santina, Centro E. Piaggio, University of Pisa with the thesis “Natural Principles for The Design and Control of Soft Robots”: Winner of the Georges Giralt PhD Award 2020
  • Odense University Hospital, Blue Ocean Robotics & UVD Robots UV Disinfection Robot – Saving Lives Every Day: 1st prize of the Technology Transfer Award 2020
  • ABLE Human Motion – Alfons Carnicero: 1st prize of the ERF Entrepreneurship Award 2020

 Check the full list of 2020 winners and finalists

During the European Robotics Forum 2020, Rogelio Velasco, Regional Minister for Economy, Innovation, Enterprise and Universities highlighted the qualitative advantages of Andalusia as a technology-based investment destination. He described ERF2020 as one of the most influential events that the sector has ever presented in Malaga. He added that “the regional government is committed to support the high-tech sectors in order to increase the competitiveness of the Andalusian economy”.

“ERF2020 helped reinforce Spain’s place in European robotics and AI. A number of local organisations, entrepreneurs and companies were amongst those in attendance, with the event well-received by delegates and organisers alike. There is great potential in the field of robotics and AI, and the responsibility is huge. The robotics community holds a key to unlock real change, not just in scientific industry, but in any number of fields – education, health, development. This is a defining moment for the European robotics community”, said Alfonso Garcia Cerezo, Professor at the University of Malaga and ERF2020 organiser.

“ERF2020 is an opportunity to listen to the opinions of the European Commission (by video), but also for the community to make its voice heard and influence decision makers. 2020 is a key year for the future of research in Europe, in view of the new Horizon Europe framework programme being prepared”, said Jesus Fernandez Lozano, Associate Professor at the University of Malaga and ERF2020 organiser.

“We need a forum like this not only to talk about technological advances, but also to discuss societal challenges, and recognise solutions where robot technology can make our life easier and safer. We need to team up with adjacent communities and technologies, such as artificial intelligence, cloud technology, 5G, and big data. In particular, the combination of AI and robotics will open up new markets, allow for products and services that we cannot even imagine today, and provide a basis for real transformation. To help with this transformation, the European Commission has started a process to form a partnership on AI, Data and Robotics in the Commission’s Horizon Europe and the Digital Europe Programmes, where euRobotics is currently in intensive discussion with the relevant stakeholders to make our robotics voice heard”, said Rainer Bischoff, euRobotics Vice-President for Industry.

“Robotics and related technologies are helping us tackle some of the most pressing and future challenges across Europe and globally. From robots that can improve efficiency and accuracy in medical lab work, to robotics and automation that helps bring electric vehicles to mass production, it is clear that our industry has a role to play in sustainable economic development, improving safety in the workplace and improving quality of life.  It was a pleasure to interact with the best and brightest scientists and robot enthusiasts across Europe to explore the future applications of robotics and AI in improving lives and accelerating economic development.” said Marina Bill (via video-conference) Global Sales and Marketing Vice-President for ABB Robotics and Discrete Automation, Diamond Sponsor of the event.

MEP Victor Negrescu addressed the audience through a video message:

The European Robotics Forum 2020 is organised by euRobotics under SPARC, the Public-Private partnership for Robotics in Europe and hosted by Universidad de Malaga in collaboration with Ayuntamiento de Malaga and Parque Technologico de Andalucia. Honorary president of the organizing committee, His Majesty the King Phillip VI.

About euRobotics and SPARC

SPARC is the public-private partnership between the European Commission and euRobotics to maintain and extend Europe’s leadership in civilian robotics. Its aim is to strategically position European robotics in the world, thereby securing major benefits for Europe’s economy and society at large.

SPARC leads the driving strategy behind the largest civilian robotics research and innovation programme in the world, with €700 million in funding from the European Commission from 2014 to 2020 and triple that from European industry, to yield a total investment of €2.8 billion. SPARC will stimulate a more vibrant and effective robotics community that collaborates in development and commercial exploitation in all regions.

euRobotics is a non-profit organisation based in Brussels with more than 250 members, representing the Robotics community in Europe.