Global Research Infrastructures in Robotics: Challenges and Opportunities

The Workshop "Global Research Infrastructures in Robotics: Challenges and Opportunities" will be held on September 27, 2021, at 16:10 –18:10 CEST, as an interactive session fully online, in the context of the 2021 IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS).
The main organizer of the international workshop is Paolo Dariofull Professor at The BioRobotics Institute of Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna (contact:
The co-organizer is Rossella Raso, Research Assistant at Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna (contact:


September 27, 2021, 16:10–18:10 CEST
Interactive session fully online on the gCon virtual conferencing system
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Workshop Program:
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This Workshop is about the concept of Robotics Research Infrastructures (RRIs) and the opportunities they offer to a variety of Robotics researchers to access a set of world-class robotic platforms and to get in contact with experts in these fields in order to learn, train, break barriers between Academy and Industry and to create an international network that will last. Furthermore, among the advantages of a GRI, there is the possibility of exploring extensive Benchmarks, that imply to investigate Repeatability and Reproducibility.
Research Infrastructures (RIs) are facilities providing resources and services for research communities to conduct research and foster innovationRIs are widespread all over the world since the policy plan for technological development and economic growth of the most advanced countries in the world, i.e., USA, Europe, UAE, China, Singapore, Japan, etc., have comprised the establishment and the consolidation of RIs as a top priority.
RIs have generated great impact on innovation and they are crucial for the Open Innovation model at the supply side of new knowledge. To establish wide collaborations among RIs at international level is of paramount importance to maximize the collective impact of investments and to address global challenges in several fields.
Among the initiatives to promote such cooperation, we mention the International Conference on Research Infrastructures (ICRI), which brings together experts in the development, financing and exploitation of research infrastructures across all disciplines and areas of research to discuss how to best enable excellent research, technology development and innovation in all sectors of society.
According to the Global Research Infrastructures (GRIs) Framework, a living document that builds on the continuous work of the Group of Senior Officials (GSO) and approved by the G8 Science Ministers in July 2013, GRIs should address the most pressing global research challenges, i.e. those frontiers of knowledge where a global-critical-mass effort to achieve progress is required. Science, technology, innovation, and advanced research training goals should be fully integrated throughout the infrastructure plans from their early development.
The concept of RIs matches very well with the field of Robotics. Robotics has been bringing forth radical innovations and unique impact for decades in many sectors (manufacturing, automation, medicine, …) in Europe and worldwide, evolving from a predominantly engineering-oriented domain to a transdisciplinary area, according to the paradigm “Science for Robotics and Robotics for Science”. Europe is an acknowledged leader in Robotics and the establishment of a RI and/or a GRI in Robotics was indeed recommended by the ESFRI Roadmap to address scientific and technological challenges in Europe and worldwide by leveraging on solutions and methods introduced by Robotic Science.
The European Commission has identified Robotics as a strategic sector for industrial growth and services to citizens, and as one of the key drivers of digital innovation. Therefore, after big efforts, a Starting Community composed of 13 top-quality Robotics institutions from 7 EU countries (including the UK) plus 1 Associated Country (Switzerland), possessing different and complementary expertise, and offering high-quality facilities in various fields of Robotics, launched the TERRINet Project in 2017.
TERRINet is a European Research Infrastructure Network of stakeholders in Robotics from both Academia and Industry offering fully covered and free-of-charge Trans-National Access (TNA) to high-quality robotics platforms, excellent research services, and training to a variety of selected users in Europe and worldwide on an Open Call-based mechanism. TERRINet is a pilot case, suitable to be scaled up at a world level, and its scope matches quite well the scope of the IEEE Robotics and Automation Society (RAS) and of many RAS Technical Committees. 


The goal of this Workshop is to introduce the concept and the overall objectives of a RRI in Europe in terms of global Erasmus+/ Marie Skłodowska-Curie/COSME -like actions for roboticists.
A RRI in Europe is designed primarily for a European landscape, of course, offering access and training to European Academic and Industrial users (undergraduate and Master students, PhD, post-doc, academic and industrial researchers, entrepreneurs, start-ups, SMEs, and large companies). But, accordingly to the GRI Framework, to boost cooperation among RIs in complementary fields is pivotal in order to address the most pressing global research challenges.
More than ever, Robotics suites very well the concept of multidisciplinary complementarity. In fact, Robotics has recently achieved a major recognition as a new scientific domain by the launch by of the Journal “Science Robotics” by AAAS. One of this Journal Editorial presents the vision about how Robotics research can root deeply into basic science, explaining the paradigm “Science for Robotics and Robotics for Science”. According to this paradigm, Robotics can penetrate different scientific fields including but not limited to Social Sciences, Life Sciences, Physical Sciences, Engineering and Medicine.
In addition, the Workshop will discuss whether and how the concept of an RRI in Europe could be implemented at global level to open-up the core offering in TERRINet to researchers, industrial developers, and major stakeholders from other (worldwide) countries (e.g., USA, Middle-East Countries, Japan, South Korea, China, etc.) and to expand the portfolio of robotics platforms and facilities providers.
TERRINet is currently offering access to a rich portfolio of forefront robotics platforms in Europe to carry out individual and/or joint projects, customised and platform-oriented professional training, and research services to talented, selected users. TERRINet is also enabling users to get in contact with and be inspired by leading and creative scientists, technologists, experts and industrial representatives in order to share information and gain knowledge for boosting scientific research and potential for technological innovation.
Finally, this Workshop will discuss the potential of the RRIs in Europe to evolve into an incubator for a possible new Global Research Infrastructure enabling access in an innovative, digital way to also provide users prevented to travel (i.e., due to Covid-19 restrictions) with interactive, remote access to a growing number of robotic platforms and with personalized platform-specific technical training. The discussion will hopefully lead to understand how to make access to RRIs affordable, potentially, by anyone, anywhere, at any time.


List of topics (keywords) addressed in the workshop (not limited to):

  • Research Infrastructures;
  • International collaboration;
  • Digital Manufacturing and Human-Centered Automation;
  • All categories of service robotics;
  • Industrial Robotics;
  • Education and Training in robotics;
  • ELSE (ethics, legal, social, economic) aspects in Robotics;
  • Multi-disciplinary research;
  • Reproducible Robotics Research;
  • Robotics Research Benchmarks.


Part I - 16:10 – 17:25 CEST
Keynote session with an introduction of the concept and the overall objectives of a RRI in Europe and of the TERRINet Project.
Speakers (TERRINet Principle Investigators)

Part II - 17:25 – 18:10 CEST
Live panel discussion on interest, advantages, obstacles, and feasibility of Global Robotics (and Automation) Research Infrastructure.
International panellists from Robotics Societies (IEEE RAS, IFR, European Commission, etc.) in representative regions (Europe, Asia, USA, etc.).


The Invited Speakers of the Workshop are the TERRINet Principle Investigators and/or their collaborators involved in TERRINet:

The Speakers of the Workshop are the TERRINet Principle Investigators and/or their collaborators involved in TERRINet:

  • Paolo Dario, Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna, Italy  
  • Leroux Christophe, Gosselin Florian, Commissariat à l'Énergie Atomique et aux Énergies Alternatives, France
  • Philippe Soueres, Laboratoire d'analyse et d'architecture des systems – CNRS, France
  • Marie-Luise Neitz, Dinesh Paudel, Technische Universität München, Germany
  • Marco Maggiali, Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia, Italy
  • Momen AbayazidStefano Stramigioli, University of Twente, The Netherlands
  • Alberto Sanfeliu, Ana Puig-Pey Claveria, Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya, Spain
  • Anibal Ollero, Begoña Arrue Ulles, Universidad de Sevilla, Spain
  • Ferdinando Rodriguez y Baena, Imperial College London, UK
  • Marko Munih, Univerza v Ljubljani, Slovenia

International panelists 

  • Arturo Baroncelli, International Federation of Robotics, Past President
  • Cécile Huet, EU Commission, Deputy Head AI and Robotics
  • Norihiro Hagita, Osaka University of Arts, Professor

Moderator: Paolo Dario, Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna



This Workshop is endorsed by the IEEE RAS Technical Committee (TC) on Digital Manufacturing and Human-Centered Automation.
The following relevant RAS TCs were informed of this Workshop:

  • RAS TC on Aerial Robotics and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles;
  • RAS TC Human-Robot Interaction & Coordination;
  • RAS TC Humanoid Robotics.