AUTOMATION, ROBOTICS AND BIOCYBERNETICS
In the programme group Automation, Robotics and Biocybernetics we develop new technologies to increase the productivity and flexibility of production processes. The result of our work are new enabling technologies for smart factories. With these new technologies we support the digital transformation of production systems, which is at the core of the drive towards Industry 4.0. Moreover, we give special consideration to human factors in the design of our systems. This will be vital to create the next generation of production systems that follow the Industry 5.0 paradigm, reaching beyond the mere production of goods and services for profit by placing the human worker in the centre of the production process. Emphasis on societal and environmental dimensions is the hallmark feature that distinguishes Industry 5.0 from Industry 4.0. Besides the increasing complexity of modern production processes, workers are now becoming increasingly exposed to demanding environments, whether external (e.g., summer heat waves in industrial environments) or internal (e.g., ageing, illness). The need for assistance in conducting common tasks will increase with the severity of these conditions. To enable human-centric production, it is essential to understand how humans can be assisted in their tasks by automation and robotic systems (collaborative robots, exoskeletons, humanoid robots, etc.), how they react and work in such environments (ergonomics of demanding environments), and how they can be protected from such environments (personal protective equipment). Our research programme group is unique, as it is among the few worldwide, and the only one in Slovenia, that is equipped to provide a platform for collaborative research to address these issues. To develop new production systems that contribute to the achievement of both Industry 4.0 and 5.0 objectives, we have defined the following Key Research Areas: o Increasing robot autonomy through learning and artificial intelligence o Human-robot interaction and collaborative workplaces o Ergonomics and physiological constraints of demanding industrial environments o Human-centred robotics from theory to modern workplace o Mobile robotics for smart manufacturing o Integration to enhance the flexibility of robotic workcells and smart automation A coherent integration of research results from the above areas utilizing modern scientific methods and advanced technological approaches will keep our group at the apex of the world research community in the field of factory automation, autonomous robotic systems, environmental ergonomics, and human-centred robotics with a significant impact on the real-world production, manufacturing, and the underlying economy.