The European Commission has begun work on a partnership that it hopes will give the continent's homegrown robotics industry a boost.
The Commission and a number of businesses, research and academic organisations signed a memorandum of understanding on Tuesday intended to pave the way for a new public-private partnership.
The partnership will be charged with helping Europe take more of the global robotics market. Among its goals are helping the continent's industry become more competitive through the use of "innovative robotics"; develop robotics that can be used to fix Europe's social problems; address the ethical and legal issues that increased use of robotics could bring; and promote the EU's robotics industry.
"The main underlying tactic of the partnership is to bring the demand side into the joint work – that will help us get better at building up new markets, using pre-commercial procurement to get the take-up rolling, and ensure we aren't thinking in a vacuum but actually increasing acceptance of robots in society," a spokesman for the Commission said.
Among those supporting the partnership are large companies including Siemens; SMEs; higher education institutions including Eindhoven University and the University of the West of England's Bristol Robotics Laboratory; and research bodies such as the Fraunhofer Institute of Manufacturing, Engineering and Automation.
The supporters will now develop a proposal for the partnership for review by the Commission, ahead of its planned launch in 2013.