The core of todays information society are communication devices based on ubiquitous computing, providing services that are personalized, location- and context-aware. In the same way as computers and mobile phones have become an integral part of our everyday lives, various types of autonomous and semiautonomous systems will be embedded into environments, providing advanced services, resulting in more robust, dependable, safe private, public and industrial sectors improving the quality of life and achieving increased productivity.
The major aim in industry today is to achieve high-quality, cost-effective safe and flexible manufacturing. This calls for going beyond the classical, highly automated industrial settings where robots are used for precise and high volume production, and develop new manufacturing concepts such as assistive robot co-workers and networks of robots with coordinated actions. Contemporary industrial robots are largely preprogrammed for their tasks and put behind safe cages, in many cases not being capable of detecting errors in their performance or interact with the environment based on sensory information. The future robot co-workers and assistants, will be empowering the human workers, increasing the productivity and their skill level. These assistive frameworks will be at the core of the future intelligent factory, with open manufacturing floors and workcells in which robots and humans share their workspace and collaborate. In addition, some of these systems will operate in a team, implementing the paradigm of "winning by number and networking". Beside industry, application areas include power-plant inspections, disaster site exploration, safe transportation of people and goods and service robots.
The above are highly complex and software intense systems where traditional mechanical solutions give way for software and embedded electronics. The software is at the heart of the solution, dealing with everything from low level sensor processing and sensors integration to abstract reasoning. Building such systems requires a robust and flexible system architecture where hardware and software come together into an integrated, possibly distributed, system. Scientific advances are required in areas of spatial and temporal context awareness, natural robot-user interaction, robot programming by demonstration, error detection and recovery, multiagent systems. These areas are also promoted by the EU and are a part of the European robot initiative for strengthening the competitiveness of SMEs in manufacturing, http://www.smerobot.org, http://www.robotics-platform.eu.com .
The outcomes of RoSy will provide novel functionalities and design principles for embedded, networked and assistive robots from a systems perspective, for their robust and versatile behavior in open-ended environments providing intelligent response in unforeseen situations, and enhancing human-machine interaction. RoSy research will contribute to scientific and industrial communities while also having a clear social dimension, providing technologies that increase life quality.