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 Robot Companions, machines intended to perform tasks in the service of human beings, in many aspects of our lives.
Robot abilities have progressed in terms of the complexity and the precision of movements, as well as the accuracy of motion control and the level of intelligence, and such a progression of abilities is the ultimate goal in robotics. In the Robot Companions scenario, the quest for robot abilities has still important opportunities for progress. This is enabled by recent progresses in soft robotics, modern paradigms of embodied intelligence, the advances of deep learning and AI, new cloud-based approaches to cognitive functions, the progress of neuroscience-based robotics, the many new materials, and other emergent scientific paradigms. Further robot abilities would enable their application in our environments, on the humans’ side. On the other hand, reaching further abilities presents new scientific and technological challenges, requiring interdisciplinary knowledge and research for proving new principles and for developing new solutions, and for ultimately transforming new science in new technology.
In the RoboCom 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.