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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

€780 Million for Strategic ICT Research in 2011

The European Commission has announced Sept 27th, one of the biggest calls ever for information and communications technology (ICT) research proposals under the EU's research framework programmes. The announcement was made at Europe's largest event for ICT research and innovation, ICT 2010-Digitally Driven. It will result in project funding of € 780 million in 2011. This funding will advance research on the future internet, robotics, smart and embedded systems, photonics, ICT for energy efficiency, health and well-being in an ageing society, and more. Under the Digital Agenda for Europe (see IP/10/581, MEMO/10/199 and MEMO/10/200), the Commission has committed to maintaining the pace of a 20% yearly increase of the annual ICT R&D budget at least until 2013.
More than 100 groundbreaking (ICT) research projects funded by the EU are being showcased at the "ICT 2010-Digitally Driven" conference and exhibition in Brussels Expo, among them the project “Kompaï the robot” and iCub. 
The Kompaï robot is designed to assist ill, disabled or ageing people who need help to lead independent lives at home. The robot can speak, understand what is said, find its way around the house, and even access internet services. It reminds users of meetings with friends and family, it can keep track of shopping lists or set up a videoconference on the internet so the users can talk to their doctors. French company Robosoft has designed Kompaï. Other research partners are from Austria, France and Hungary.

iCub can sit, crawl and pick up objects with its five-fingered hands. By watching, listening and touching, the robot learns from its surroundings – just like a child would. There is a growing need for household robots with cognitive skills to tackle the challenge of the ageing society. Assistive robots need to perform household chores like bringing medicine or serving a drink to help the elderly or physically impaired. More than 20 laboratories in the world have adopted iCub. The project was carried out by universities and research centres in Italy, Portugal, Sweden, Switzerland and the UK. 

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