What products or services do you provide and in which sectors do you operate? 

Leonardo is a multinational high-tech company and one of the key players in Aerospace, Defence and Security worldwide. We design and develop products, services and integrated solutions for institutions and citizens covering air and land, naval and maritime, space and cyberspace scenarios. Leonardo is organized into five Divisions: Aircraft, Electronics, Helicopters, Aerostructures and Cyber Security.

Within the specific area of robotics, managed by the Electronics Division, Leonardo is a designer and manufacturer operating in mainly two areas: 

  • Space robotics: robots for orbital servicing and for planetary exploration missions. Examples: the drilling and sampling system for the ESA Rosetta mission (first human artifact ever landed on a comet nucleus); a much-improved version of it, mounted on the ESA ExoMars rover (to be launched); the application software and control station for the ESA European Robotic Arm (now on the International Space Station). 
  • Unmanned Systems: fixed and rotary-wing unmanned aircraft for military missions; underwater unmanned systems; industrial partner in the implementation of the national Urban Air Mobility roadmap and infrastructure in Italy. 

Moreover, as end-user, we employ a variety of robots and automation systems in our manufacturing sites, tailored to large and complex productions like aircrafts and helicopters. 

How long have you been active, where do you operate and where are your products/services used (in Italy, Europe or beyond)? 

Leonardo, formerly Finmeccanica, became a single industrial company in 2016 by integrating a number of subsidiaries, each one with a long heritage on its own, such as Alenia Aermacchi, AgustaWestland, DRS Technologies, Selex ES, Oto Melara and WASS. The foundation of Finmeccanica as a holding dates back to 1948 and most of the former subsidiaries are even older. 

We are headquartered in Italy, with a significant industrial presence in four domestic markets (Italy, the United Kingdom, the United States and Poland) as well as strategic partnerships in the most important international markets. The total number of employees is over 49,000, distributed in 180 sites worldwide.  

From your own perspective, how does the future look in your target sectors? 

Despite the ongoing recovery from the market shock caused by the Covid-19 pandemics, the outlook is very promising in all our target sectors. 

  • The global demand for civil air transport is expected to grow, while the public awareness for environmental sustainability will boost innovation in greener propulsion technology, like hybrid-electric or hydrogen. 
  • New modes of air transports for people and goods are being developed, to relieve urban traffic and pollution. 
  • Digitalization, AI, and cyber security are more and more embedded along the entire product lifecycle, in both civil and military industries. 
  • The commercial exploitation of space is just beginning: with it, robotics and automation will play a key role, both in Earth’s orbit and in the future outposts on the Moon and Mars. 

If possible, please give us a story, anecdote or example that in some way illustrates the use of your product or service. 

To encourage the development of Artificial Intelligence applied to Unmanned Systems, we have launched the Leonardo Drone Contest, an Open Innovation challenge designed and launched by Leonardo in collaboration with six Italian universities. 

The project, developing from 2019 to 2022, involves and brings together the capabilities of large companies, universities, small and medium enterprises, and national spin-offs and start-ups. 

Each year the involved research teams will confront each other in a scientific symposium, as well as an annual competition of their drones.