October 16, 2020
As one of the projects to realize the “Plan for Promoting Social Change Taking Advantage of Robots” (compiled and published in July 2019), the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO) sought applications for the “Project for Establishing Infrastructures for Research and Development for Innovative Robots.” As a result, the ROBOT Industrial Basic Technology Collaborative Innovation Partnership (ROBOCIP), Panasonic Corporation and Tohoku University, and Yanmar Holdings Co., Ltd. were selected. Basic and applied research in industry-academia collaboration will start with the aim of creating innovative technologies for industrial robots.
From May to July 2019, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) held the “Council for Promoting Social Change Taking Advantage of Robots” together with the Cabinet Office, the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, and the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, with the aim of accelerating the social implementation of robots and promoting social change with robots in Japan, an advanced country facing challenges. The Council compiled the “Plan for Promoting Social Change Taking Advantage of Robots,” which shows the directions of measures to be taken into the future.
Japan accounts for a large share of the world’s industrial robots, but this share has been on a decline in recent years. Amid intensifying global competition in development, Japanese companies conduct high-risk basic research independently and are unable to allocate sufficient resources.
On the other hand, ecosystems for creating innovation through industry-academia collaboration have been established overseas. For example, in Denmark, business promotion and support have been carried out consistently from basic research on robotics to market entry, with participation of more than 100 robot-related companies, research and educational institutions, and investment-related companies, etc.
Against this background, the “Plan for Promoting Social Change Taking Advantage of Robots” sets out the “building of an industry-academia collaboration system to respond to medium- to long-term technical issues” as one of the directions of measures. Specifically, the industry is to cooperate closely with universities and other educational institutions to carry out basic and applied research, and the “Project for Establishing Infrastructures for Research and Development for Innovative Robots” which newly commenced in FY2020.
2. Adopted research themes and selected organizations
NEDO sought applications for the “Project for Establishing Infrastructures for Research and Development for Innovative Robots,” and the following research themes and organizations were selected.
Theme: Basic technology research in industry-academia collaboration to improve functions of industrial robots and facilitate their introduction
Selected organization: ROBOCIP
Participating universities and institutes: Osaka University, Okayama University, Keio University, Kobe University, University of Tsukuba, The University of Tokyo, Tokyo Institute of Technology, Nagoya University, Yamagata University and National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology
Research summary: The industry and academia will collaborate for basic research on the following: general-purpose handling technology and robot motion generation technology for industrial robots; signal transmission technology that enables remote control technology for 5G communication; new material technology that realizes weight reduction of robots; and sensor mounting technology for robots.
Theme: Development and demonstration of end effectors equipped with sensing technology that enables multi-skilled work
Selected organizations: Panasonic Corporation and Tohoku University
Research summary: With the aim of establishing a mechanism, sensing technology, and control technology for multi-skilled end effectors that can operate automatically in gripping and assembling work at manufacturing sites, harvesting work on farms, transportation work in logistics, etc., research and development will be conducted toward the realization of multi-skilled robots which can grip a variety of practical objects that are widely used in the industry.
Theme: Development of a fruit crop harvesting system
Selected organization: Yanmar Holdings Co., Ltd.
Participating university: Chiba Institute of Technology
Research summary: In order to realize and put into practical use fruit and fruit vegetable harvesting robots, research and development will be conducted on a fruit vegetable recognition system that recognizes irregular crop structures and fruits, and end effectors for harvesting recognized fruits without damaging them.
- Reference: NEDO “Project for Establishing Infrastructures for Research and Development for Innovative Robots: News Release” (in Japanese)
(Reference) ROBOT Industrial Basic Technology Collaborative Innovation Partnership (ROBOCIP)
In July 2020,ROBOCIP was established for the purpose of promoting expansion of the scale of research and deepening of its content through collaboration among robot manufacturers rather than conducting research independently in the field of basic technology research for industrial robots, and thereby strengthening the foundation of technological innovation in accordance with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
“Collaborative Innovation Partnership (CIP)” is a corporation established with approval of the competent minister with the aim of overcoming problems that cannot be solved by a single organization and promoting commercialization of technologies through conducting test research in collaboration among multiple companies, universities, independent administrative agencies, etc. METI created a new term, “Collaborative Innovation Partnership (CIP),” last November to promote the utilization of the CIP system. In addition, the logo mark was formulated in April 2020, and the “Guidelines for the Establishment and Operation of CIP” were revised for simplification and clarification of the procedures for establishing and operating CIPs.
- Reference 1: ROBOCIP website (in Japanese)
- Reference 2: METI website concerning the CIP System (in Japanese)
Division in Charge
Information on this project
Robotics Policy Office, Manufacturing Industries Bureau
Information on the CIP System
Innovation and Industry-University Collaboration Division, Industrial Science and Technology Policy and Environment Bureau