The Institute of Systems and Robotics, based in the University of Coimbra (ISR-UC) is a private, non-profit research institution founded in 1992 with the global purpose of setting up a first class multi-disciplinary research team, able to carry out leading edge research in several important areas of science and technology, with a special emphasis in systems and robotics. ISR promotes advanced multidisciplinary R&D in the areas Mobile Autonomous Robotics, Intelligent Transportation Systems, Search and Rescue Robotics, Robotic Manipulation, Computer Vision, Medical Robotics, Assistive Technologies, Biomedical Engineering, Advanced Industrial Automation Technologies and Intelligent Energy Systems.
ISR was evaluated in 2018 by an FCT international panel with EXCELLENT. Currently ISR integrates the Associated Laboratory ARISE - Advanced Production and Intelligent Systems. ISR gives special attention to international scientific research cooperation with centers of excellence, as well as to training and education Initiatives. ISR has also developed strong links with industry, either existing national and international companies, or promoting the creation of spin-offs. Two of its spin-offs Optisigma and Perceive 3D received in 2015 SME AWARDS from the H2020 EU Program. ISR has a strong track-record in the publication in international top journals and conferences, as well as in participation in national and international R&D projects.
ISR-UC is organized in seven Activity Areas with significant scientific and technological synergies:
- Human-Centered Mobile Robotics
- Field Robotics
- Medical Systems and Robotics
- Computational Intelligence and Control
- Artificial Perception and Cognition
- Visual Perception
- Intelligent Energy Systems
The success of the unit relies on the existing strong collaboration across disciplinary boundaries, which allows the unit to tackle highly complex scientific and technological challenges. Regular workshops stimulate collaboration that will be a key tool for addressing complex multidisciplinary problems and integrating the knowledge towards cognitive systems, as well as knowledge dissemination. Many research proposals and ongoing projects require researchers to take advantage of the complementarity of skills of the researchers and partners, resulting in high quality publications and joint supervision of PhD Thesis.
ISR has strong interaction with some of the best research centers around the World, participating in large international projects. ISR also participates in networks of excellence in the robotics area and wants to keep organizing scientific meetings at the highest level (e.g. IROS, ICRA, IEEE ITSC, ROMAN).
The activities in the unit are highly interdisciplinary by nature with strong interaction between the activity areas. Moreover, ISR actively collaborates with the Faculty of Medicine, health institutions and research centers (CNC-Center for Neuroscience, Rehabilitation Rovisco Pais Hospital, IBILI- Optical and Biomedical Imaging and Life Sciences Institute) and a variety of high technology industries.
Training and education activities are of high importance in order to enable cross-fertilization and innovation across disciplinary boundaries. ISR plays an active role in several doctoral programmes and provides experimental and scientific guidance to a large number of MSc students. Furthermore, training and education is a key element for community building and the generation of an open and stimulating culture. The primary training and education activities will be supervision of students and mentoring of postdocs in an everyday basis but also exchange of researchers with high quality research centers in different periods of the year. The existing cooperation with national and international industry (e.g. Google, PSA Group, Efacec power and automation equipment, Portucel paper group, CIMPOR cement group, EDP Electric Utility, National Money Authority Casa da Moeda, Brisa Motorways, Schneider Electric, ABB Corporate Research, and WEG) is planned to be increased with joint projects. ISR also wants to keep promoting technology transfer and the creation of spin-offs associated with the development of research results with a large market potential.
The Institute of Systems and Robotics have been cooperating with IPN-Instituto Pedro Nunes (www.ipn.pt), a regional technology transfer organization from Coimbra, Portugal. The Vice President of IPN has been for the last 10 years asenior researcher of ISR, ensuring a strong link between ISR and IPN. IPN has a very successful incubator, being responsible for the creation of over 80 companies, and having won the first prize for best incubator at EU level.
ISR wants to consolidate and expand activities in several fronts which are deemed essential to ensure the achievement of scientific and technological excellence:
- Increase the level of internationalization by promoting more intense networking targeting the impact of the R&D work to develop innovative products and services.
- Participation in large international projects (e.g Horizon Europa Program), involving the best research centers, universities and industries.
- Attraction of high quality young researchers to be integrated in R&D projects and in doctoral programmes.
- Participation in networks of excellence in research and education. ISR is a member of euRobotics AISBL, European Robotics Association.
- Cooperation with industry through research contracts in advanced projects with a high innovation contents.
- Patent registration for the innovative results with market potential.
- Dissemination of research work in top international journals and conferences. Organization of international scientific meetings and conferences.
MANAGEMENT - During the period 2018-2022 the unit will have the following management model:
- The Scientific and Technological Council, which includes all staff researchers with a PhD, and in which the Coordinators of the Activity Areas, as well as the Director of the Unit are elected.
- The Scientific and Technological Council analyses the annual Activities Report in terms of achievements, as well as the proposed Plan of Activities setting out the main targets (Key research directions, funding, R&D projects, collaboration with industry, publications and dissemination activities) for the following year, which have been previously prepared by the Unit Director with the support of the Area Coordinators.
- In the definition in the yearly Activity plan, the annual performance target in each Area in terms of the scientific output and funding will be defined.
- The Director of the Unit has the overall responsibility of the daily management of the global affairs of the unit, and represents the unit externally, namely with the outside institutions.
- The Steering Committee has the Coordinators of the Areas, as well as the Director of the Unit, meeting as often as necessary to address technical and management issues of common interest for ISR.
- The Area Coordinators have the responsibility to provide strategic guidance for the research activities as well as to coordinate the reporting activities of each area. The general Area meetings include all researchers with a PhD of the group, meeting as often as necessary. The coordinator will have regular meetings with the senior researchers. In addition to the regular meetings a workshop will be organized every six months.
- The unit official website is setup to foster communication, knowledge transfer and cross- disciplinary collaboration within the unit. Besides the general project information, the website will provide a calendar with important events, a project repository for publications, software, data sets, etc. and an information matrix of all people, the available infrastructure and available research platforms.
- The Advisory Board is composed by three top quality international researchers and hasthe function to evaluate the Annual Activity Report and the Activity Plan of ISR, in order to provide strategic guidance for the future research work.An on-site visit is planned every two years to allow a more comprehensive assessment of the carried out activities.