The European Robotics Forum in Tampere Finland was held 13 – 15 March 2018. Over 900 robotics specialists attended this year.
Considered the most influential meeting of the robotics community on the continent, the European Robotics Forum (ERF2018) hosted more than 50 information-filled workshops with presentations by leading European experts from industry, business and top-level academia, as well as relevant European policy makers.
Under the theme “Robots and Us”, ERF2018 explored current societal and technical themes related to the field of robotics including human-robot-collaboration and how robotics could improve industrial productivity and service sector operations. A topic close to our heart and one which we strive to demystify with our pledge ‘Robotics. Made. Simple.’ A team from Tharsus was among more than 50 companies exhibiting at ERF2018 and we were in attendance for the full conference.
Here’s our summary of what we saw and learned.
The event was held in Tampere Hall, the largest congress and concert hall in all of the Nordic countries. This was a busy show with a good mix of attendees, among them people from many big commercial organisations including directors, managers, engineers and advisers along with representatives of start-ups and professors and researchers from some of the biggest European universities.
Talks and presentations were organised throughout the three days in morning and afternoon sessions, averaging seven each day and covering a diverse range of important topics, so there was something for everyone in each series. The talks were well attended and the accompanying exhibition was vibrant and lively, particularly during the breaks.
The majority of talks were focused around industrial robotics, innovation ecosystems and systems engineering, with a lot of discussions around the European funding pot Horizon 2020 and PPP – Public Private Partnership – the notion of connecting academia with the private sector through various different portals. There were several discussions about how robotics is being applied in various specific industries, such as healthcare, construction, education and marine.
Given the theme it was unsurprising that there was a strong emphasis on human-robot interaction at the literal level of collaborative robots, from how they can safely help people to complete challenging and risky jobs, to discussion of the wider societal issues of how increased robotic use will impact on European citizen’s working lives and social interactions.
In terms of challenges to the advancement of robotics, open mindedness and acceptance was recognised as an overriding issue. For example, while we may increasingly be able to create robots that can care for and support elderly and infirm patients, the patients themselves can still resist them in preference for human carers.
There was also considerable focus on the need to standardise, regulate and benchmark various aspects of the work that is being carried out in the field, with safety a particular concern. This is still a very wide open topic that requires plenty of expert discussion and consideration, but it is something that we must address to ensure the legitimacy and continued development and advancement of the industry.
We enjoyed being a part of ERF 2018 and renewing our acquaintance with many fellow robotic experts and organisations. The discussions were thought provoking and helped provide insight into some of the problems we may face in the future, as well as the opportunities this new technology will open up in all kinds of sectors. It was great to engage with a number of friends from global businesses as they shape their on-going plans to develop and deploy robotics – some starting this year, some already well underway.
If you didn’t get a chance to speak to us at the event about your needs and ambitions for robotic and machine technologies, why not get in touch with us now? You can contact Bruce Watson, Principal, Business Development, by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.