The VeriDream project, an international consortium of six organizations across Europe, has been awarded €2 million by the European Innovation Council to carry out a research and innovation strategy to improve robotic performance at small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) using artificial intelligence (AI). The project has started in October 2020, and will run for two years.
Robots act in the real world. When deploying AI methods on robots, the continuous and dynamic nature of the physical world raises many challenges which are not encountered in purely digital domains such as Internet search and social networks. To address these challenges, VeriDream builds on the DREAM and RobDream research projects to pursue a two-fold innovation strategy for AI in robotics. Its deep innovation strategy will strive to achieve high technological readiness in a set of use cases at a warehouse logistics start-up. Its broad innovation strategy will promote a wider uptake of effective innovation methods in SMEs, thus enhancing the innovation potential of SMEs in AI for robotics.
“Research and industry have different expectations and requirements when it comes to AI methods. In VeriDream, we will bridge this gap through learning-by-doing. Our experiences in bringing results from fundamental research projects to concrete industrial use cases should benefit all European SMEs.” Freek Stulp, coordinator of the VeriDream project.
The consortium, coordinated by the German Aerospace Center (DLR) (Germany), consists of six partners. Magazino GmbH (Germany) will implement the deep innovation strategy, and Synesis (Italy) and GoodAI (Czech Republic) are responsible for the broad innovation. The research partners DLR, Sorbonne University (France), and ARMINES (France) will provide the methods and expertise acquired during the previous DREAM and RobDream projects, and address pertinent research questions that arise when generalizing and robustifying these methods to make them applicable to the industrial use cases.
The German Aerospace Center (DLR)
The German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) is the national aeronautics and space research centre of the Federal Republic of Germany. Its extensive research and development work in aeronautics, space, energy, transport, security and digitalisation is integrated into national and international cooperative ventures. DLR is also responsible for the planning and implementation of Germany’s space activities on behalf of the federal government. DLR is also the umbrella organisation for one of Germany’s largest project management agencies.
The DLR Institute of Robotics and Mechatronics develops a wide array of robots to enable humans to interact more safely and efficiently with their surrounding environments. The robots are designed to act in surroundings inaccessible or dangerous to humans as well as to support humans in everyday life and work.
Sorbonne University is a multidisciplinary and research-intensive university. It is structured in three faculties in humanities, medicine and science. The University has 53,500 students, 3,400 professor-researchers and 3,600 administrative and technical staff members. The Institute for Intelligent Systems and Robotics (ISIR) is a multidisciplinary research laboratory that brings together researchers and academics from different disciplines of Engineering Sciences and Information and the Life Sciences. Research at ISIR covers most topics of robotics from the mechanical design to control, signal processing and cognitive abilities and are organised around two axes: autonomy (autonomous movements, decisional autonomy) and interaction with humans through multimodal channels (haptics, movement, verbal and non verbal communication channels).
Sorbonne is involved in multiple European projects, for instance SoftManBot or CORSMAL and, in the context of the Tremplin Carnot “Interfaces” Institute, in collaborations with industrials like SoftBank Robotics, PSA, Wandercraft or Percipio. Sorbonne University was the coordinator of the DREAM FET Proactive project.
Armines is a private non-profit research and technological organisation (RTO) funded in 1967, having 48 common research centres with several Ecoles des Mines and French Engineering Schools, gathering public and private personnel and means, to collaborate on an arms lengths basis and perform contractual research activities and academic research training. The Joint Research Units and the collaboration between Armines and the research centres are organised within the frame of a convention signed in conformity with the Law dated April 18th, 2006, under the administrative authority of the French Minister of Industry; Armines having in addition, the duty to manage contractual research activities and the related intellectual property rights.
The Armines/ENSTA Paris common research centre “Computer Science and System Engineering Department” (U2IS) is involved in the VeriDream project. U2IS focuses on the engineering of complex systems and comprises ENSTA Paris research activities in the fields of computer science, robotics and computer vision, embedded systems, and signal and image processing. The research of the “Autonomous Systems and Robotics” team in particular focuses on mobile robot navigation, perception, embedded vision, machine learning and human-robot interaction. Our emphasis is on applying machine learning to real-world applications, such as assistive and service robotics, intelligent vehicles, defence and security.
Magazino GmbH develops and builds intelligent, mobile robots that perceive their environment and make their own decisions. These autonomous robots work alongside people and make processes in e‑commerce, fashion and production logistics more flexible and efficient than ever before. With over 100 employees in Munich, Magazino is the largest Advanced Robotics team in Europe. Magazino’s investors include Jungheinrich AG, Körber AG, Zalando and Fiege Logistik.
SYNESIS is a European private-public Consortium whose main shareholders are private Italian and German SMEs, and whose public shareholders are Italian and German RTD Institutions, namely the National Research Council of Italy and the German Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft. Synesis represents the new frontier of Technology Transfer in the industrial automation domain, where it is active for implementing a virtuous circle between research and industry that allows customers to take advantage from the most recent knowledge available. The consortium operates to facilitate the transfer of technology arising from research to industry, exploiting the most challenging results of R&D efforts through the development of new value added industrial solutions in partnership with high tech enterprises operating in various sectors of manufacturing and collaborating with research organizations excelling in different knowledge areas. Synesis is a consortium dedicated to industrial research and technology transfer activities for the innovation of manufacturing processes and products. The intended result is fostering an increase in competitiveness of manufacturing industries through innovation of both processes and products, allowing a more efficient and effective management of plants and resources and better response to identified market needs. The integration of results from research activities with the extensive range of established know-how allows Synesis to offer a full package of industrial competences to partner enterprises, combining technological innovation with organizational and sustainability aspects. Synesis operates on different intervention areas, mainly addressing:
- Control and automation systems;
- Digitalization technologies;
- Prototyping of machines for special processes and smart products;
- Simulation and optimisation techniques for the management of production lines and facilities, including energy efficiency aspects;
- Industrial production sustainability and Life Cycle Assessment;
- Life Cycle Design and sustainable products development;
Synesis has a continued involvement in European research projects in partnership with international centers of excellence. It acts as key agent for the application and exploitation of the most important European research and development initiatives, transforming scientific results into high added value technological solutions through direct cooperation with high technology companies.
GoodAI is a research and development organization based in Prague with the goal to develop general artificial intelligence – as fast as possible – to help humanity and understand the universe. It was founded by CEO/CTO Marek Rosa in January 2014 and now has over 30 research scientists, engineers, and consultants working across its divisions.