The Future of Robotics Technology at the European Robotics Forum 2023


In the close-up, two men and a smiling woman standing in front of the building at European Robotics Forum 2023. Blue sky in the background.

Antti, Maria ja Matti in European Robotics Forum 2023 in Odense.

Antti, Maria, and Matti spent three days in Denmark in March at the European Robotics Forum 2023. What new insights did the European Robotics Technology Research Conference offer this year regarding the hottest trends in the field? What do Oulu and Odense have in common? And how does “the ensemble” Maria & The Brothers relate to robotics?

ERF2023, the European Robotics Forum, once again brought together all the major robotics operators in Europe, so of course we were there! It is an important annual event that allows the European robotics community to discuss technological opportunities and current topics. This year, the ERF took place in Odense, Denmark in mid-March. The event was attended by around 900 robotics operators from 30 countries. Probot was present at the European Robotics Forum for the 12th time. Matti and Antti Tikanmäki and Maria Ruottinen attended the event for three days.

When the trio arrived in Odense, the sky was horizontally drizzling.

– So we got a warm welcome, laughs Maria.

– Getting wet in that sleet made me feel very at home. It was worth packing shorts, Matti adds with a grin.

A lot of people are sitting in a dimly lit auditorium at European Robotics Forum 2023
Opening ceremony of the European Robotics Forum 2023.
Photo: ERF2023.

Towards the Next Generation Technologies

Matti is a popular speaker at many events, and ERF2023 was no exception. The event included a workshop hosted by Centria University of Applied Sciences, where Matti was selected to give a presentation. The workshop was related to the potential of XR technology, in other words, extended reality, in robotics management and education. Matti’s presentation focused on using extended reality in industrial robotics management.

– Industrial production methods are constantly advancing. At the same time, they generate more and more data about the process. Managing this vastly increased amount of data and entities requires new ways of using it. Extended reality tools and other modern technologies are a very viable and highly effective way to move manufacturing automation towards next-generation technologies, Matti advises.

– What surprised me at the event was that many operators in the industry are only at the planning stage or have plans for the near future. At Probot and our long-standing partner Centria, we have already adopted XR technology and used it in several applications.

The audience sits with their backs to the camera. In the front part of the space there is a screen with a projected presentation slide. A bearded man stands near the screen. - European Robotics Forum 2023
The ERF2023 event included a workshop hosted by Centria University of Applied Sciences, where Matti gave a presentation on using of augmented reality to manage industrial robotics.

Field Robotics, Artificial Intelligence and Other Hot Trending Topics

There is no doubt that technology is spreading rapidly. But even our team members were surprised by how fast the pace of development actually is. According to Matti, an astonishing number of operators had walking mobile robots at the event, for example. Based on the ERF2023 event, one of the most trending topics in robotics technology at the moment is related to field automation, as field robotics is rapidly developing as well.

– This was highlighted on several different occasions during the event. Of course, there was also a lot of talk about artificial intelligence. It seemed that the challenges and threats related to AI are well recognized. However, the discussion focused on what AI enables and how it can be taken advantage of everywhere, Matti adds.

The hottest trends in robotics today and in the coming years are summarised by the European Robotics Forum 2023:

  • Ease of use
  • Re-programmability of physical robots
  • Digital twins and extended reality capabilities
  • Development of field automation and robotics
  • Use of AI in all the topics above

Maria & The Brothers

Matti, Antti, and Maria agree that all the arrangements for ERF2023 worked very well. Maria is particularly pleased with the sense of community and the new contacts made during the event.

– The sense of community among European robotics operators was clearly visible at the event. Many of the discussions started from the point of view of how we could work together. There was a strong sense of togetherness across the board, Maria praises.

Maria meeting with Unitree at the European Robotics Forum 2023. Unitree robot dog B1 is also in the picture.
The Probot team finally got to meet face-to-face with our robot dog partner Unitree. In the picture, there is Unitree B1, the “host”, and you can find it also in our range. B1 is suitable for challenging tasks in outdoor environments such as agriculture, industry, research, security, and rescue.

For the team, one of the highlights of the event was when they finally got to meet our robot dog partner Unitree face-to-face. Maria smiles as she tells us that Unitree’s gang had given them the apt nickname “Maria & The Brothers”.

– We also gained a hundred new contacts or even potential partners in our network. In addition, the robot dog attracted a lot of interest and we got several leads.

Probot is a Pioneer

Travelers were warmed by the positive feedback they received about Probot. At the European Robotics Forum, people seemed to appreciate all that Probot has done and achieved so far.

– The international arena sees that we have a lot of valuable expertise. Our multi-disciplinary role was also highlighted in very many places. Our approach was convincing. It is the modern age to have one-stop-shop solutions to many challenges, and this is what we have always offered our clients. The positive feedback from the event will guide our activities, Matti and Maria say.

– The Robotics Society in Finland was also praised in several places for being active, Maria adds.

In addition to the positive feedback, Matti is also grateful for the insight he had at the event: the Probot is at the top of robotics for real, but not alone.

– However, we are already a very strong player on a European scale. We have impressive partners, broad and strong expertise, and solid experience in the field. In terms of technological implementation, we are definitely at the cutting edge, says Matti.

The international arena sees that we have a lot of valuable expertise. Our multi-disciplinary role was also highlighted in very many places. Our approach was convincing. It is the modern age to have one-stop-shop solutions to many challenges, and this is what we have always offered our clients.

Matti & Maria

Oulu and Odense Have a Lot in Common

In addition to focusing on the future of robotics technology, the European Robotics Forum this year also focused on the development of Odense as a robot city. Odense has emerged as one of the world’s leading robotics centers over the past 10 years and has declared its ambition to be the world’s best robotics city this year. Matti, Maria, and Antti’s first contact with Odense’s robots were at the train station, where a robot was on hand to guide visitors to the city.

– Odense is a fast-growing technology city that has also branded itself well as a robot city. I think Odense and Oulu have a lot in common: both are attractive university cities with impressive technological expertise and strong cycling culture. Of course, Odense’s strength is its very favorable location at the heart of Central Europe. But Odense is at least as windy as Oulu – and there is always a headwind, Matti laughs.

The robotics incubator and the so-called “Odense model” impressed the Probot team in Denmark. This is a business model that involves the formation of clusters, i.e. concentrations of industries that also interact with each other. In Odense, these robotics-related clusters are designed to get products to market quickly through distributors, with the company that makes the product withdrawing from selling it to the end customer altogether.

– These manufacturing clusters were highlighted at Odense, says Maria.

With Joy!

When you ask Maria & The Brothers what kind of Danish things and customs they would like to bring to Finland, the first answer is “Danish food”. However, they all agree that the Danish positive culture is in a class of its own.

– The culture is very distinctive. Things are always taken with a pinch of joy. The Danes have a lighter, more positive approach to everything, and in general, they are quite relaxed about things.

– In all the discussions, you had to be careful what the hidden joke was in this sentence. On the other hand, it’s not much different from the way our team communicates with each other, Matti laughs.

Lähikuva junassa istuvasta naisesta, joka katsoo ulos junan ikkunasta. Naisen edessä pöydällä läppäri ja käyntikortteja.
Looking back on the event, Maria is particularly happy about the strong sense of community and new contacts.

Thank you ERF2023!

If you want to read more about the ERF in general and our team’s thoughts before the trip, check out our blog post “We will be at the European Robotics Forum in Denmark 14-16 March 2023”.

Check out the event on the ERF2023 website.

Probot Oy – Specialist in Robotics.

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