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2017 European Robotics Forum Workshop on S&R Robots: research and industrial challenges

Date: March 23, 08:30 – 10.00 AM

Main Organizers

Igor Gilitschenski (ETH Zurich), Lorenzo Marconi (University of Bologna), Bruno Siciliano (University of Naples Federico II)

Supporting SPARC Topic Group

Benchmarking and competitions

Motivation and Objective

The goal of this workshop is to bring together European researchers and industry representatives working in the field of Search & Rescue robotics. Motivated by extraordinary natural disasters happened around the world in the last decades in which robotic technologies didn’t show to be effective in handling emergencies, in the recent years this topic has been the subject of or at least related to several large-scale FP7 and H2020 research projects including SHERPA, ICARUS, TRADR, CENTAURO and WALK MEN. In parallel many actions more related to competitions in S&R contexts have been organized. Among the others it is worth recalling euRathlon that organized yearly outdoor challenges having, as field test, disaster scenarios inspired by the 2011 Fukushima accident, involving many students and conditioning the research profile of many young researchers, and the European Robotics League (ERL), a novel model for competitions funded by the European Commission. The peculiar features of disaster scenarios (in terms of operative conditions, tasks to be accomplished, robustness standard, operability and many others) has also motivated the establishment of ad-hoc benchmarks that have been proposed to test and compare technologies, control solution and cognitive abilities in S&R-related environments. In this respect, the activity of the SPARC Topic Group in “benchmarking and competitions” is relevant.  Moreover, following this trend, many research centers in Europe invested time and resources to set up lab facilities specifically motivated by robotics in Search & Rescue.

As this technology is getting more mature, there is also an ever growing potential for broadening its industrial applications and making technology more effective in real environments. In this respect, however, it is a fact that the market of S&R is not large enough to attract the interest of big industrial players that, as consequence, doesn’t invest resources by thus impeding the effective use of key technologies in real scenarios. This, in turn, represents an obstacle to have technologies at high TRL and create a gap between results obtained at academic level and the real need of end-users.

Within this variegated and rich framework, the main goal of this workshop is discussing the current state of Search and Rescue Robotics, the main needs of the end-users resulting in peculiar research activities and technology requirements, what steps need to be taken in order to make this technology commercially available, by involving relevant actors that have been active in the recent period in the field.


The workshop is mainly centered around a round table in which scientists that have been involved in S&R research activity share problems, solutions and ideas. The round table will develop many arguments that are listed in the following:

  • End-user needs and special requirements that make the field of S&R rich from a scientific viewpoint and technologically challenging;
  • Relevant and distinctive research activity conducted within the involved EU projects and in the labs around Europe;
  • Special technologies that have been developed, or that have been envisioned, specifically motivated by disaster scenarios;
  • How benchmarks and competitions support the research and the progress in the field of S&R;
  • Potential of the S&R Market;
  • The gap between academic research and industrial exploitation in S&R;
  • Ideas on how supporting end-users involved in disaster scenarios with effective, sustainable and updated robotic tools.

The round table is preceded by short presentations of the coordinators of some selected EU FP7 and H2020 projects dealing with Search and Rescue that set relevant end-user problems/requirements and frameworks where the research has been conducted in the last years. The round table is then followed by a poster session in which relevant research activities developed in the EU projects that have been presented in the workshop are shown.


0:00 - 0:05 Introduction by the Organizers
0:05 - 0:45 Project short presentations
0:05 - 0:15 Project 1 SHERPA
0:15 - 0:25 Project 2 TRADR
0:25 - 0:35 Project 3 CENTAURO
0:35 - 0:45 Project 4 WALK-MEN
0:45 – 1:30 Round Table with the invited guests from Topic groups, euRathlon, research other projects, research center, industrial actors
1:30 - Poster session follow-up during the coffee break with relevant research activity carried out in S&R

List of Confirmed and foreseen contributors (Speech, round table)

Igor Gilitschenski (ETH Zurich)
Lorenzo Marconi – University of Bologna
Ivana Kruijff-Korbayova – DFKI, Saarbruecken
Sven Behnke – University of Bonn
Nikoals Tsagarakis – IIT
Yvan Petillot, Heriot Watt University
Alan Winfield – UWE Bristol
Marta Palau, UWE Bristol, ERL Emergency Robots competition
Marco Hutter – ETH Zurich


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