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Join the Preparatory Action for a new FET Flagship on Robotics!

Robotics - 2018/11/02

In the rapid progress and wide spreading of robotics, Europe is playing a leading role and is in a forefront position for its competitiveness at both industrial and scientific level. Together with the impressive technological advances in ICT and AI, robotics is today bringing an impact on economy and society by enabling the materialization of a new generation of machines intended to perform tasks at the service of human beings and in many aspects of our lives.


Intelligent Robots hold the promise of improving the quality of human life and of our planet by making it safer, more just, and more sustainable. After the second world war, robot-driven automation led to the third industrial revolution in making better goods at lower price in higher numbers. Today, the European society faces new challenges such as an aging population, increasing social contrasts, stagnant productivity, and environmental strains. ICT and Communication technologies have changed the way we interact and communicate and Robotics is expected to bring significant additional benefits.

We believe that a new generation of robots, intelligent machines with advanced abilities, will significantly help addressing European challenges. Future robots will have to understand, communicate, and safely blend with humans in unprecedented ways. We believe that these capabilities will require a drastic rethinking of robot bodies, minds, and human interaction. Blending with, and supporting, living systems like humans, animals and plants, will require life-like capabilities that go beyond current achievements of robotics and artificial intelligence.

Future robots will be life-like machines capable of evolution, growth and self-healing. Their flexible and adaptable bodies will be perfused of sensors. Future robots will grow and learn with humans and other robots. Future robots will learn from experience, inventive steps, and teaching from experienced humans and robots.

Intelligent robots will take different forms that will make them wearable, mobile, protective and supportive. They will allow us to live longer active life, improve productivity and reduce societal contrast, change education, and prevent and mitigate disasters. The long-term success of the Robotics Flagship will make robots gradually disappear as they become closer, more dependable, and more engaging.

The grand S&T challenges for the Robotics Flagship revolve around robot abilities, the ultimate goal in robotics research. We envisage disruptively new advanced robot abilities, enabling robots to adapt to environment and tasks, not only their behaviour but possibly also their morphology, not just at the design stage but during the robot existence, improving task performance by intelligent adaptation during practice and experience. Those new abilities would be fundamental blocks to enable robot application in our environments, on the humans’ side. On the other hand, reaching such abilities presents new scientific and technological challenges, requiring interdisciplinary knowledge and research for proving new principles and for developing new solutions, in an open and technologically neutral way, and for ultimately transforming new science in new technology.

The Robotics Flagship will bring together at an unprecedented scale different research areas, such as engineering, computer science, life science, material science, and the humanities to invent the next generation of intelligent robots. In the Robotics Flagship multidisciplinary approach, biology is the inspiration for simplifying principles to deal with a complex world, materials science is the foundation for giving the body its proper role in shaping behaviour, AI is the way to develop new forms of cognitive functions, ICT keeps all this in a connected world, and humanities are the way to advance the knowledge on the relation between humans and robots and to steer the impact of new machines on the Society.

The FET Unit of the European Commission launched a new call for FET Flagships, science- and technology-driven, large-scale (1 Billion Euros for 10 years), multidisciplinary research initiatives built around a visionary unifying goal. In the call that is open now, one-year Preparatory Actions are supported for the preparation of FET Flagship proposals.

Robotic technologies and AI are rapidly transitioning from research labs and science fiction to the real world and will transform our societies. The question is not if robots will enter our life, but who will design and deploy them first, who will set the science and technology agenda, and who will regulate societal and civilian questions. Leveraging several years of public and private investing, the European robotics community is extremely well positioned to address the scientific, technological, and socioeconomic challenges of future robotic systems. A Robotics Flagship is a timely initiative that will ensure European leadership in such an important technological area for the future of European society and economy.

Our vision for a Robotics Flagship offers a fresh approach to the robots of the future, encompassing both fundamental scientific questions and their translation to the society and economy, as described in the attached abstract. The proposal relies on the participation of a multidisciplinary community spanning engineering, computer science, material science, life and social sciences, to mention a few. We will be inclusive, but focused on inventing tomorrow’s robots for improving the quality and sustainability of human life.

The Preparatory Actions are funded as CSAs to support the engagement of the communities in shaping the Flagship proposals. The submission is in two phases and the deadline for the first phase is February 20, 2018. It requires the description of the vision and objectives and of the expected impacts. A small consortium is taking care of the proposal submission and, if accepted, of organizing the activities of the Preparatory Action.

We would like to invite you to join the proposal as a participant. We hope that you share the vision, objectives and the approach of the Preparatory Action for a Robotics Flagship and that you can confirm your participation at your earliest convenience.

What should you do now?

  1. Please go to and register yourself as a participant. Multiple registrations of scientists from the same institution are allowed. Please specify your areas of research as indicated.
  2. It is highly recommended that you upload a letter of endorsement from your institution. A large number of letters of endorsement would significantly strengthen the proposal and every letter counts.
  3. An even stronger support is given by letters of endorsement from funding institutions like Ministries, Regions, Research Agencies, Foundations, from companies and industrial actors, from relevant projects, from scientific societies and communities, from associations. So, please contribute to request and obtain endorsement letters in your capacity.
  4. Please feel free to invite more participants from your scientific community, by forwarding the link for registration.
  5. Any comment on the proposal contents, from the current abstract and the next proposal versions is more than welcome.

What will you get from participation?

  1. You will be able to contribute to the proposal for the Preparatory Action and you will support it, directly and indirectly, with proper involvement of your scientific community and network of contacts, to make it go forward to the next phase.
  2. If the Preparatory Action is accepted, you can contribute to shaping the future Flagship on robotics.
  3. You will be able to participate in the activities of the Preparatory Action, such as meetings and scientific events for preparing the future Flagship proposal, with possible reimbursements from the CSA.

Cecilia Laschi -

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