The global robotics market will change shape significantly in the next few years. As the deployment of robotics technology increases, it is necessary to ensure that robotics actions are flanked by specific measures to optimise market take-up of European research whilst the window is still open.
There are several challenges including the lack of sustained exchanges about robotics between members of the widespread European stakeholders' community and of coordinated European effort towards global standardisation and regulation. There is also a lack of systematic foresight of developing trends and issues to inform strategy-makers and the robotics community e.g. as relating to a pro-active approach of ethical, legal and socio-economic (ELSE) issues. Understanding and responding to developments in these areas will require engagement with non-robotics experts able to analyse impact within their area of expertise. Robotics-specific strategy can then be developed from this analysis and used to shape the processes of design, development and deployment of market services and applications.
It is also important to disseminate information not only to the robotics community but also externally to those users and organisations impacted by robotics technology. Furthermore it is important to identify and assess socio-economic weaknesses and threats in the European robotics landscape. These will change over time and long term monitoring actions will be critical to the development of a responsive strategy.
Potential issues range from the development of supportive and effective regulatory environments to assessing the public perception of robotics and its socio-economic impact, as well as the underlying imaginaries (e.g. pre-conceptions helping to envisage the future) of robotics developers. Broader technology impact issues such as data privacy, legal rights, liability, responsible innovation and ethical issues concerning vulnerable sections of society will also need to be addressed.
An intense user-engagement in the developments of robots designed to perform social tasks, and a wide public debate around the issues and concerns that these developments may raise are key conditions to ensure a societal and socio-economic uptake of robotic technology in an informed way and to enhance market and community development.
Competitions on smart robotics can also play an important role in increasing the levels of public understanding, as well as helping to accelerate progress in a stimulating way.
Coordination and Support Actions focusing on one or more of the following topic areas and taking into account ongoing actions:
a. Non-technical barriers to robotics take-up:
b. Standards and Regulation:
c. Community support and outreach:
The Commission considers that Coordination and Support Actions proposals covering all or an appropriate mix of topic areas (a), (b) or (c) above are expected to require up to EUR 3 million; nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts. Minimum one action will be selected. Competition proposals addressing topic area (d) are expected to require up to EUR 2 million each; nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts. Minimum one action will be selected.