Institute of Robotics established at "Athena" RC


PRESS RELEASE - Establishment of the Institute of Robotics at "Athena" RC
"Athena" Research Center is thrilled to announce the opening of its fourth Institute, the Institute of Robotics. The primary objective of the newly established Robotics Institute of "Athena" RC is to promote the science and technology of robotics in the age of artificial intelligence through coordinated efforts and close collaboration with the Greek robotics community. These efforts will include establishing Makerspaces and promoting scientific and technological excellence in robotics in partnership with universities, research centers, businesses, and industries.
To facilitate the Institute's success in becoming a valuable research hub for robotics and autonomous systems, "Athena" RC will leverage the success and expertise of the Robotic Perception and Interaction Unit, which was founded in 2009 under the guidance of Prof. Petros Maragos as Scientific Director. The Institute's focus will be on vertical sectors such as health, security, transportation, education, agri-food, and more.
The Institute's activities will center around three directions, responding to the needs of Greek society and international developments:
  • Robotics for Safety and Rescue: This direction will concentrate on autonomous systems equipped with advanced sensor systems and using AI algorithms, including aerial and ground robotic systems, marine and underwater robotic systems, and unmanned aircraft systems (drones).
  • Outdoor Robotics: This direction will concentrate on developing intelligent robotic systems for agriculture, shipping, logistics, transportation, and the construction industry. Outdoor Robotics is expected to become ubiquitous and necessary for tasks that are considered boring, unhealthy, or dangerous for humans.
  • Healthcare Robotics and Social Robotics: This direction aims to create innovative technologies and intelligent robotic systems for surgical and interventional robotics, kinesiology and cognitive support robotics, social support robotics to improve communication and learning skills in children with special needs, and robotic visitor guides in museums and airports.
The Institute of Robotics will establish a space for the mechatronic implementation of robotic prototypes (Makerspace). In the next phase, the Institute will take on the coordination of establishing and managing satellite Makerspaces in select parts of the Greek territory. Education will also be a significant role of the Institute, as it will participate in curricula related to robotics and offer short-term courses for researchers and the industry.
Lastly, one of the Institute's objectives will be to organize the Greek robotics community (academics, researchers, and industry) and interconnect it with the diaspora's equivalent while creating a center of gravity in Southeast Europe.
The Deputy Minister of Development and Investments, Christos Dimas stated: "The newly established Institute of Robotics at "Athena" Research Center aims to strengthen and support the Greek research activity, and promote greater development and collaboration in the field of robotics. Through close cooperation with researchers, academics, and the diaspora, the Institute will create a hub for research and innovation in robotics in the wider Balkans and Southeast Europe region, further contributing to the growth and extroversion of the Greek research community."

Prof. Ioannis Emiris, "Athena" RC President and General Director, stated:
"With a great sense of responsibility and satisfaction, I am pleased to announce the establishment of the Institute of Robotics at "Athena" RC. I warmly congratulate the founding team, including Petros Maragos, Kostas Kyriakopoulos, and Evangelos Papadopoulos, as well as all those who contributed to this effort. We would also like to express our gratitude to Deputy Minister Christos Dimas and the President of the Board of ESETEK, Spyros Artavanis-Tsakonas, for their support. This is a significant step forward for the entire scientific community at "Athena" RC, as our fourth Institute opens up a new chapter of research excellence, technological innovation, and collaborations with existing Institutes and Units of the Center."
Prof. Petros Maragos, NTUA / "Athena" RC, founding member of the Institute, emphasized: 
"Our vision has now become a reality, and we would like to express our heartfelt gratitude to all those who contributed to the establishment of the Hellenic Institute of Robotics. We are especially grateful to the Deputy Minister, Mr. Christos Dimas, and the President of ESETEK, Prof. Spyros Artavanis-Tsakonas, for their continuous trust and support. We also extend our thanks to the Director of "Athena" RC, Prof. Ioannis Emiris, for his invaluable help and support throughout this effort. With the establishment of the Robotics Institute, we are now poised to begin organizing and operating immediately, with the aim of achieving our high goals. We hope that our efforts will have a positive impact on the technology, economy, security, and prosperity of our country."
Prof. Evangelos Papadopoulos, NTUA, scientific associate of the Institute, said: "Firstly, I would like to express my sincere gratitude to President of ESETEK Prof. Spyros Artavanis-Tsakonas and ESETEK for their unwavering support, and to Deputy Minister Mr. Christos Dimas and the Ministry for their continuous efforts and advocacy for the establishment of the Institute. Without their dedication and commitment, as well as the encouragement of HIAS, the realization of this Institute would not have been possible. It is now our turn to take on the responsibilities that come with this endeavor, and we are fully prepared to do so."
Prof. Konstantinos Kyriakopoulos, NTUA, scientific associate of the Institute stated: "The Institute is the realization of a long-standing dream and the continuation of an effort that was initially supported by the Hellenic Institute of Advanced Studies and ESETEK. Subsequently, the General Secretariat of Research and Innovation, the Ministry of Development, and the Deputy Minister, Mr. X. Dimas, with his unwavering interest, worked towards the establishment of the Institute. The academic staff of various universities and research centers joined forces to recognize Robotics as an evolving field of utmost economic, social, and national importance, with a focus on economic development, executive training, education at all levels, and dissemination of knowledge to society at large."
The initial funding of the Robotics Institute will be provided by the Greek 2.0 Recovery and Resilience Fund, with a budget of 3.6 million euros. In the future, the Institute's basic funding will come from competitive national and European projects, as well as from joint ventures with the private sector.
"Athena" Research Center was founded in 2003 and has facilities in Athens, Patras, and Xanthi. It is the only research center in Greece exclusively focused on Digital Sciences and Technologies. It consists of three institutes focusing on Language and Speech Processing, Industrial Systems, and Information Systems, respectively, as well as eight units specializing in Technology Collaborative Formations, Space Programs, Robotics, Environmental and Networking Technologies and Applications, Pharmacoinformatics, Sustainable Development, Artificial Intelligence, Data Science and Algorithms, and finally Women's Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

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