LEO, Center for Service Robotics
The Netherlands is one of the forerunners in robotics and within the country there are a number of regional hubs that are particularly innovative in specific applicationareas of the field. The eastern Netherlands is especially proficient in the development of service robots. LEO is a collaboration of regional corporations and universities that want to transmit their skills and knowledge in service robotics around the world.
Depending on your source the definition of a service robot could differ dramatically. We apply the proposition as given by the International Federation of Robotics that 'a service robot is a robot that performs useful tasks for humans or equipment excluding industrial automation application'. This gives us a broad range of operations, however, there are a number of areas in which our members specialize.
- Inspection robotics
- Rehabilitation robotics
- Surgical robotics
- Smart Industry (robotics within flexible manufacturing)
Service robotics is naturally much broader than merely these specific applications and some of our members are also specializing in robotic applications for agriculture, system integration, security, or even in services that are so new that they aren't really classifiable yet. Despite the wide variety in application areas, many of the underlying technologies are similar and through those similarities we attempt to create synergy. Visit our projects page for some examples.
LEO supports its members and stimulates regional activities through several activities. In general these are aimed at (1) strengthening the skills and capabilities of our members, (2) increasing visibilty for robotics in the eastern Netherlands, (3) strengthening existing networks and creating new ones. Structural events are for example the RoboCafé, a yearly workshop, a weekly focus on an individual member and yearly knowlege vouchers.
LEO is the successor of RoMech which was founded in 2008. LEO itself was founded in 2010 following a business tour through the United States. Inspired by the manner in which business and universities interacted, several participants were convinced that a foundation that stimulated this behavior would have great value in the Netherlands. The driving forces behind the establishment of LEO were Stefano Stramigioli from the University of Twente and Dennis Schipper from Demcon.
Despite a prosperous start, there were difficulties that led to a period of inactivity. However, all members were well aware of the potential value that could be unlocked. In 2014 the board members decided to increase effort and resources and this will generate tangible results in the coming years.