The focus of our research programme group over the next five-year period will be the development of the next generation of robot systems and smart cyber-physical systems (CPS), comprising networks of computational elements controlling a variety of physical entities, thereby providing a platform for the development of new products and production processes. Our principal aim is to improve the quality of life, both at work and at home.

We will work on the development of autonomous cognitive robots and robot assistants, capable of interacting with, and assisting their human partners. Current generation industrial robots can successfully operate in known environments that rarely change. They are usually well separated from humans. Significant advancements in various robot technologies are needed to develop the next generation of robots that can work in dynamic environments and in collaboration with people in a range of environmental conditions. Our research will raise the technology readiness level in key areas needed for the development of such robots. We will concentrate on robot learning and cognition, compliant human-robot interaction, compliant coupling with the environment, and dual-arm humanoid systems. New user interfaces that support human-robot information transfer and collaboration will be developed. Besides these basic technologies, our research will focus on new application areas and use cases, including robotic assistants in manufacturing (few-of-a-kind production) and assistive robotic devices in rehabilitation, as well as to support people at work. Our research goals are among the biggest challenges of modern science, and are therefore at the center of robotics programs in Horizon 2020.

The planetary habitat simulation facility, which we developed in the preceding period with support of European Space Agency, will be the focus of our research pertaining to the regulation of ambient conditions to simulate high altitude exposures, space travel and planetary habitats, as well as living and working environments on Earth. It will provide a platform for space life sciences research, with results being immediately applicable to target populations on Earth (i.e. elderly, disabled, chronically ill patients, etc.) specifically addressing the prevention of muscle atrophy, osteoporosis, cardiovascular deconditioning, metabolic syndrome and obesity. The facility will serve as a live-in and living laboratory, which will also be used to test new concepts in the regulation of heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems, with the aim of reducing energy cost, without compromising thermal comfort, well-being and productivity.

In the past our group has received substantial funding from the FP7 programme “Cognitive systems and robotics” and “Space”. Our aim is to continue being key participants, and not observers, in the development of breakthrough technologies for the next generation of robots and smart cyber-physical systems.

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