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May 2021

A Recap of European Robotics Summit Part 1 - The New Breed of Robots

Due to the unusual circumstances caused by the pandemic, the 4th European Robotics Summit was delivered virtually this year, divided into three parts, distributed over three separate dates.

The first of the three-part virtual European robotics Summit in 2021 took place in April with a deep look at "The new breed of robots - disruptive or simply opening new markets?”. With a new generation of robots already on the market and further innovation constantly ongoing, we explored the present discussions happening at industry level in relation to this new generation of robots.

Wilfried Eberhardt, Chairman of EUnited Robotics and CMO of KUKA AG, opened the summit with a welcome address, followed by the opening keynote of Dr. Esben H. Østergaard, founder and CEO of REInvest Robotics and one of the founders and inventors of Universal Robots.

REInvest Robotics is an accelerator platform that works with start-ups at the forefront of creating unique robotics solutions. Dr. Østergaard, spoke about his organisation’s ongoing projects with various start-ups and in particular about the role that cobots can play in enabling these types of businesses to grow and develop. He also emphasized the importance of training and education to boost the continued development of new and disruptive robotics technologies. Another important concept which Dr. Østergaard spoke about was “reshoring” – bringing manufacturing back home. He described how the human value of manufacturing has, to a great extent, been lost in Western Europe in recent years as companies outsource their manufacturing to places like China and India. Although outsourcing manufacturing is sometimes necessary, Dr. Østergaard pointed out that there is value in developing manufacturing knowledge and expertise locally. He also voiced his concerns at the risk posed to robot manufacturers in Europe by over-regulation, compared to the US and China. Dr. Østergaard concluded his presentation with an analysis of where the next breakthrough in robotics might emerge.

Participants were then treated to a series of highly informative and thought-provoking presentations by panel experts from a selection of significant robotics manufacturers and service providers in Europe. The panelists outlined the conversations currently taking place about the capabilities and limits of this new generation of robots as related to their own companies’ robotics products and services. They made reference throughout their presentations to data on recent developments as well as current and predicted market trends.

Panel discussion:

  • “The next level of mobility and autonomy”:  Marc Dassler, CEO and Co-founder of Energy Robotics
  • “The Low-Cost Robotics Platform”: Frank Blase, Owner and CEO of igus/RBTX GmbH
  • “No-Code Robotics – The Wandelbots Approach”: Christian Piechnick, CEO and Co-founder of Wandelbots
  • “EVA - Democratizing Robotics”: Mostafa El Sayed, CEO of Automata
  • “Innovation and Agility Within an Established Enterprise”: Dr. Kristina Wagner, Vice President Corporate Research and Director of RoX Program, KUKA AG

The panel presentations were followed by breakout sessions where participants and panel experts had the opportunity to discuss the presented concepts. Discussions were focused on the following 3 topics:

  • What (creative) ways are there for intensifying cooperation between traditional and new robot companies?
  • What (creative) ways are there for introducing robots to companies without robot experience?
  • How can new business models contribute to opening new markets for robotics?

The first part of the virtual summit was concluded by summarizing and presenting the discussion results and learnings from the day.

Despite the different circumstances in 2021, this first part of the European Robotics summit was a great success, being well attended with over 60 participants, many of whom provided highly positive feedback on their virtual experience.

The second part of the summit will take place on June 29th, focusing on "AI, robotics, and regulation – where is Europe headed?”

The third part of the summit will focus on "The Good Work Charter – achievements and next steps!" - date to be determined.

About the European Robotics Summit

The European Robotics Summit is a two-day event, traditionally taking place at the Eberbach Monastery, a historical Cistercian abbey in Eltville (close to Frankfurt, Germany). The summit has established itself as the only interactive meeting of its kind, which is designed specifically for key-players of the robotics industry in Europe and invited guests. The unique retreat style of the summit at the Eberbach Monastery enables participants to discuss new concepts and explore future strategies away from the normal pressures and distractions of daily working life. 

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