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26/09/2019: Connecting AI with Industrial Robotics – Launch of RICAIP Project

Prague, 26 September 2019

Virtual and augmented reality for remote industrial production control or a system for its rapid adaptation according to the customer’s current needs and available production resources- these are just a few challenges that will be treated by researchers in the RICAIP project. Festively launched today at CIIRC CTU in Prague, in the presence of more than a hundred distinguished guests, RICAIP pushes the boundaries of today’s understanding of the automated industrial production towards the multi-site flexible production.

The decision to support RICAIP (Research and Innovation Centre on Advanced Industrial Production) came from the European Commission this spring, the project officially starts in September. In the next more than six years, the RICAIP partners will have access to funding of up to EUR 50 million (CZK 1.2 billion). Thanks to this support, the European Centre of Excellence for advanced industrial production, the largest in the field of artificial intelligence (AI) and industrial robotics, will be created. It is based on a strategic cooperation between the Czech Republic and Germany. Partners of the project are: its main coordinator CIIRC CTU, CEITEC BUT, and on the German side, the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI) and the Centre for Mechatronics and Automatisation Systems (ZeMA), both located in Saarbrücken.

Jean-Eric Paquet, Director-General of the European Commission, stressed that obtaining this support is an appreciation of the exceptional quality of the project under evaluation, and also pointed out that only one in 15 of the submitted generally high quality projects received funding from the EU. He said this two days earlier in Brussels at the solemn signing of a document by which the EU allocates EUR 15 million to build the RICAIP Centre of Excellence and 13 other award-winning projects.

“It is an important project supporting both the National Innovation Strategy and the National Strategy for Artificial Intelligence. It is fully consistent with the EU’s efforts to strengthen research in the field of industrial production by taking advantage of research results generated in the field of AI, ” said the Minister of Industry and Trade Karel Havlíček in his video message. „I am convinced that the project will provide significant support for SMEs while becoming a tool both for an effective extension of cooperation with German partners and increasing of our contribution to the EU’s production potential development,“ he added, assuring on the project’s importance and full support from the Czech government.

Professor Wolfgang Wahlster, one of the founders of the Industry 4.0 concept and the initiator of the RICAIP project, also attended the ceremony. On this occasion, the former director of DFKI and its current Chief Executive Advisor received the CIIRC CTU Medal, together with Dr. Eduard Palíšek, CEO of Siemens Czech Republic, who was awarded for a long-term cooperation and contribution to the development of the Czech industry.

    
“Industrial AI for Industrie 4.0 is the innovation motor for the Czech and German national economies,” claimed Professor Wolfgang Wahlster and explained further: “And this is because both depend heavily on the export of high-quality, leading-edge physical products as the basis for smart services and new business models. Together with our Czech friends and cooperation partners at CIIRC CTU we will do our very best, that RICAIP will become the „Mecca“ for Industrie 4.0 enthusiasts.”

Professor Jana Koehler, the new DFKI CEO since February this year, added: “The digital revolution paves the road to intelligent products and production with greater flexibility, significantly less resource consumption, and higher degrees of customer-centric individualization. RICAIP will be a driving force and enabler of this revolution for the Czech and German economy.”

“The newly built RICAIP Centre has a truly European format and will serve to research in the field of intelligent manufacturing across Europe. Of course, a significant part of the capacity will strengthen the modernization of Czech SMEs. Also important is the fact that RICAIP will contribute to the expansion of modern education of students and PhD students at CTU and BUT,” said Professor Vladimír Mařík, Scientific Director of CIIRC CTU.

Since the very beginning, the RICAIP Centre has focused on strategic international partnerships. An important cooperation exists with CLAIRE, the world’s largest association of AI research groups and institutes and the most dynamically developing European AI research network. In just a year since its foundation, CLAIRE has won the support of thousands of scientists in 34 countries. Professor Holger Hoos from Leiden University in the Netherlands and one of the founders of this initiative symbolically opened the CLAIRE Prague office at CIIRC CTU. He pointed out: “CLAIRE and RICAIP are highly synergistic, and having a strong presence of both organizations here in Prague is good for the Czech Republic, and better yet for Europe.” By now, RICAIP and CLAIRE are connected not only through the common challenges in the field of AI but also by the CIIRC CTU premises in Prague – Dejvice.

Statements of other partners and guests

Jaroslav Hanák, the President of the Confederation of Industry of the Czech Republic

“The future of industry, as we in the Confederation of Industry see it, is in artificial intelligence, robotics and other new technologies, and I therefore welcome activities that will help support the development and use of these technologies. I am glad that obtaining the support for the establishment of a research and innovation center on advanced industrial production was successful, and I firmly believe that this project will help especially small and medium-sized enterprises, as this will be crucial for the successful digital transformation of the Czech Republic.“

Vladimír Dlouhý, the President of Czech Chamber of Commerce

“In the upcoming years, industry will face significant technological changes, for which our economy must be prepared. The RICAIP project is one of the ways to significantly shift the topic of Industry 4.0 and give new business ideas a chance to excel and to promote them internationally. As a founding member of the National Center of Industry 4.0, the Chamber of Commerce supports similar projects as they move our economies towards higher added value.”

Vojtěch Petráček, Rector of CTU in Prague

“RICAIP will make a vital contribution to maximizing the return on investment in science, knowledge, and innovation. I would also like to emphasize that RICAIP will bring new opportunities, particularly for linking research and education in Industry 4.0. The demand for interdisciplinary training will increase exponentially over the next ten years. For this reason, the activities of the RICAIP Centre in the field of education are essential and open up new opportunities especially for doctoral students and young researchers.”

Petr Štěpánek, Rector of BUT

“The international RICAIP project will not only enable virtual interconnection of various laboratories for intelligent production throughout Europe, but it also brings the possibility of significant research cooperation with German partners directly for BUT. Obtaining such a prestigious project is a proof of both good scientific results of the excellent CEITEC BUT center, and the great potential of Czech experts in the field of cybernetics and artificial intelligence.”

Radimír Vrba, Director of CEITEC BUT

“RICAIP project is a logical continuation of CEITEC activities in the research of highly automated systems. The infrastructure built within RICAIP will provide researchers with an excellent environment to design and validate AI based solutions for production technologies. It will allow to further develop international cooperation, but RICAIP will be also a significant part of regional and national innovation ecosystems, supporting namely a cooperation with innovative SMEs.“

Rainer Müller, CEO of ZeMA

“RICAIP is an important step to intensify and strengthen our established Czech–German research cooperation. The ZeMA – Centre for Mechatronics and Automation Technologies is pleased to be part of this European project. This Czech-German cooperation will allow for pioneering and application-oriented research and development. RICAIP will be a nucleus for research and development with further European partners in Industry 4.0, Artificial Intelligence and Robotics.”

Ondřej Velek, Director of CIIRC CTU

“Together with our partners at RICAIP, we have committed ourselves to creating technologies that will bring new innovative products to all EU citizens, tailor-made to their specific requirements. In addition, the sustainability of such production is supported by production near the point of consumption, using universal and intelligent production lines in a short time. The Czech Republic, with its industrial tradition, deserves such a European Centre of Excellence for Advanced Production Technologies. ”

Eduard Palíšek, Country CEO Siemens Czech Republic

“Fast implementation of the principles of the Industry 4.0 concept is the most important pre-requisite for a long-term industrial competitive advantage. International co-operation on implementing the newest trends such as digital twins, artificial intelligence, additive manufacturing and not least distributed manufacturing, is the best possible initiative. I believe that Czech-German research collaboration on the RICAIP project brings interesting results that help European companies of all sizes to further strengthen their market position. ”

Holger Hoos, Initiator of CLAIRE

“From early on, CLAIRE has enjoyed a broad support from the Czech AI researchers, the CIIRC CTU, and the Czech government, and that support has played a crucial role in enabling our success. The strength of the Czech AI community is also evident in RICAIP, which is set to become an international leader in research and innovation in advanced distributed industrial production – an area of key importance to European industry and economy, and one of the most important application areas for AI.”