Innovative project from the university is selected among six across Europe to win cutting-edge robots from global electronics manufacturer Epson.

A team from the University of Plymouth are among six winners from Epson Europe’s first ever Win-A-Robot contest, where education institutes from countries across EMEAR were invited to submit concepts that demonstrate how Epson’s T series industrial robots could be used in an innovative way. In addition to the UK, winners have been selected from institutes in Ireland, Hungary, Germany and Italy, for their innovative submissions around cobotics, food sciences, AR, agriculture, deep learning and manufacturing.

The University of Plymouth’s project aims to facilitate partnerships with local SMEs through existing networks, with a focus on sustainability, environmental solutions, social impact, and skills.

They will explore how Epson’s robotics technology could benefit the cross-disciplinary intersections between robotics and design, and will introduce undergraduate and postgraduate students from both disciplines to the latest cutting-edge technology.

Small firms will be involved to examine ways to overcome the challenges they face in introducing robots into their business models.

The project is being coordinated by Dr Alejandro Veliz Reyes from the School of Art Design and Architecture, and Dr Mario Gianni and Dr Martin Stoelen from the School of Computing, Electronics and Mathematics.

It also involves an industrial collaborator, Plympton-based Artemis Optical Ltd, in the creation of a sustainable and adaptable work cell.

Dr Veliz Reyes, Principal Investigator on the project, said:

“It is hugely exciting to win this competition, and to secure these cutting-edge robots for our teaching and research. Robots are instrumental to the Industry 4.0, so it is important that we embrace the technology and find the best ways to harness its benefits across a range of sectors. It is also great for us as researchers, and for our students, to be working with a company such as Epson, and we are delighted they have given us this opportunity.”

Dr Mario Gianni added:

“We believe that this project will have the potential to change the digital manufacturing transformation of SMEs, as it will introduce new methods of production that consider the latest technologies in a sector characterised by limited capital investment and research potential.”

Epson Robot2

The decision comes after a jury of five robotics experts from the fields of policy, industry and academia came together in Meerbusch, Germany, to deliberate and select the winning applications:

  • Professor Darwin Caldwell, Italian Institute of Technology;
  • Eva Kaili, Member of the European Parliament;
  • Dr Imre Paniti, Hungarian Academy of Sciences;
  • Patrick Schwarzkopf, Managing Director, VDMA Robotics + Automation, and
  • Yoshifumi Yoshida, Epson Executive Officer

The judging panel had a strict set of criteria, taking note of the strength of each application against criteria of innovation, education, skills development, sustainability and unique robot usage.

The breadth and depth of the insights, knowledge and expertise displayed in all applications demonstrated the impressive talents of a new generation of thinkers driving the future of European robotics forward.

Other official winners of Epson’s 2018 Win-A-Robot contest include:

  • Institute of Technology Tallaght, Ireland, with their ‘Robotics, Food Production and Harvesting’ project
  • University of Pecs, Hungary, with their ‘Robot Control with Augmented Reality Glass’ project
  • Heinz-Nixdorf-Berufskolleg, Germany, with their ‘Simulation of an Online Trade Using the Example of a Candy Filling Plant’ project
  • University of Padova, Italy, with their ‘ChocoBot – Energy-efficient Customized Decoration of Celebration Cakes and Rapid Prototyping of Big Chocolate Structures’ project
  • University of Pavia, Italy, with their ‘Deep Learning for Safe Physical Human-Robot Interaction’ project.

Over the coming months, Epson Europe and its partners will work closely with the institutions following the receipt of their Epson robots, providing support and training to ensure the winning teams and wider student body are able to get the best use from their robot.

With the robotics industry set to be a €1.05 trillion business by 2025, Epson is committed to expanding applications of its robots to help create a world in which robots support people in a wide variety of situations and meet market demands with a cost-effective solution.

Epson Europe’s Win-A-Robot contest is helping to lower the barriers to automation, supporting education and the development of new automation solutions. 

“Robotics and automation will play a massive role in supporting the competitiveness and growth of European business for the future,” said Volker Spanier, Head of Robotics Solutions for Epson Europe as he announced the contest winners.

“Ensuring that students of today are prepared and excited to take on that challenge is of incredible importance, and Epson look forward to working alongside the talents of tomorrow to grow and develop their skills, and projects in that direction. We see this announcement as just the beginning of fruitful, long-term relationships with universities across EMEAR.”

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