This is a newly started project funded through Eurostar.

Project RUNNER will:

  • Design and Implement a family of innovative cue extraction modules supporting very high rates by taking full advantage of the high processing power provided by the high-end Reconfigurable devices.
  • Design and Implement real-time reconfigurable object sensing mechanisms which will take advantage of the accurate and fast cue extraction schemes and the high processing power provided by the high-end Reconfigurable devices.
  • Design and Implement a novel Navigation Scheme based on the advanced perception provided by the proposed reconfigurable system.
  • Develop innovative methods for linking the advanced perception provided with navigation and early warning actions
  • Design and Implement a sophisticated 3D reconstructing system, tailored to the needs of the cue-extraction modules which will be implemented in Reconfigurable Logic.
  • Develop and implement the middleware for the seamless programming, configuration and management of the RUNNER infrastructure.
  • Prototype and validate RUNNER’s complete infrastructure and demonstrate its efficiency and wide applicability in two real-world trials.

The ultimate objective of RUNNER is to deliver a reconfigurable platform prototype with excessive cross-domain applicability. In RUNNER, we believe that in a few years there would be millions of robots in various application areas that will all be navigated in an autonomous manner based on 3D video capture; such robots can be efficiently and inexpensively built based on the provided innovative highly flexible infrastructure.

The future marketplaces for RUNNER-derived products will be the pan-European Robotic ones. In addition, the manufacturers that will incorporate RUNNER’s technology into consumer electronics’ products, surveillance systems, space systems and domestic products are global players.
RUNNER consortium believes that robotics will follow the “Crossing the Chasm” marketplace model as described by G. Moore. There is a chasm between the market of early adopters populated by visionaries who will take a new technology, and the early majority, who are pragmatists and comprise a crucial marketplace segment.  The greatest peril in the development of a high-tech market lies in crossing the chasm and making the transition from the early market dominated by visionaries to a mainstream market dominated by pragmatists. RUNNER is expected to help in crossing this chasm and capture Robotics market, by providing flexible added valued highly innovative autonomous robots.
Several new market opportunities will be triggered by the outcome of RUNNER since the actual perception systems that will be created within RUNNER will offer much higher degrees of autonomy than any existing solution and, based on them, certain specific-purpose robots can be built in numerous distinct application areas.
In general the market growth for Robotic systems is expected to be huge in the next few years. As reported by Japan Robotics Association (JSR) it is expected to reach over 66 Billion Dollars by 2025. The majority of the robots installed in 2025 will belong to the service and personal Robotics Market, i.e. they will be used in the home, for Medical/Welfare application and in the Public Sector. Moreover, as clearly stated in the Strategic Research Agenda (SRA) for Robotics, recently published, Europe “should enlarge its market share in this newly emerged application Robotics domains the most promising of which are: domestic service, professional service, security and space robotics”. The common characteristic of all those different application areas is that they all demand autonomous robots having detailed and efficient perception. RUNNER will create a platform that will allow for the implementation of a family of very efficient autonomous robots that can be tailored to the needs of each of those robotic areas, namely:

  • Service robots are aimed to provide services to humans (e.g. they shall autonomously carry out monotonous, dangerous or tedious tasks). In all those cases the crucial prerequisites for performing services are mobility and autonomy. This area is expected to rapidly expand in the next few years as reported by JSR and the “World Robotics” which predicts sales of 8.2 billion dollars between 2007 and 2010.
  • Healthcare robots (for example, robot wheelchairs) could increase significantly. However, one of the most promising markets for robots is the Nursing Care one. Trials in Japan have shown that robots can encourage elderly people to speak and interact and therefore the development of therapeutic robots could well accelerate.
  • Domestic robots that perform useful functions within the home, such as cleaning the floor or mowing the lawn, are now commercially available and are set to become extremely popular in the next few years.
  • Surveillance robots in order to prevent crime in public areas. The recent advancement in the field of robotics has made it possible to develop quite reliable and efficient mobile robots that are able to perform security surveillance tasks and are suitable for simple surveillance tasks such as to detect fire or to detect intruders in an empty building.
  • Space robots can support or replace people to carry out tasks that are too dangerous, too difficult, repetitive, time consuming or even impossible for astronauts. They should have a number of unique characteristics such as weight as little as possible, use little power and have a long operational life, operate autonomously, be extremely reliable.

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