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TriMARES wins award in golden year for Robotics at INESC TEC

ROBIS is now the largest robotics unit in the North of the country

Since its formation in 1993 and its first official intervention in various areas, such as Robotic Football and aquatic robotics, the Robotics and Intelligent Systems Unit at INESC TEC (ROBIS) has become one of the units with the largest growth index at the Associate Laboratory. António Paulo Moreira, one of the unit coordinators, states how the unit’s quality has been reflected in its excellent results: “The growth of ROBIS is very positive, both in terms of the number of collaborators and in terms of their quality and working conditions. In 2009 there were just nine of us, now there are 50 with revenue of around one million Euros in 2012. We currently have 28 researchers working on PhD dissertations and 30 researchers working on their Masters dissertations.”  

ROBIS was officially established in 2009 as the result of collaboration with different professors and researchers that were researching Robotics and Intelligent Systems at the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the Faculty of Engineering of the University of Porto (FEUP). The unit was initially divided into land Robotics (autonomous land vehicles and manipulators) and “aquatic” Robotics (autonomous boats and autonomous submarines) and their integration into INESC TEC led to more cooperation between researchers.

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Continuous growth and focus on internationalisation

In February 2011 the robotics group at INESC TEC, the Robotics and Intelligent Systems Group (ROBIS) merged with the robotics group at ISEP (Higher Education Institute of Engineering in Porto), the Laboratory of Autonomous Systems (LSA). This was an important step that led to real growth in the unit’s activity. The new Robotics unit’s aim was to internationalise by focusing on rapidly expanding markets. This strategic move has now made it the largest robotics unit in Northern Portugal. The merger between the robotics groups of INESC TEC and ISEP also aimed to optimise resources, increase synergies and strengthen the scientific and technological capacity of both institutions. 

Making INESC TEC an international name in robotics is the next aim. “In the future, the aim is to improve our international networking, firstly with Europe and Australia and then we can strengthen our existing links with Brazil. The aim is for INESC TEC to become internationally recognised for and associated with robotics. We also hope to strengthen the team with resident researchers and grants for technicians and researchers with Masters and PhDs”, states António Paulo Moreira.

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ROBIS is currently participating in five European projects including ICARUS and Increase Autonomy for AUVs – Unmanned Maritime Systems (UMS) for the European Defence Agency (EDA). Project ICARUS is a joint project with the Portuguese Navy to develop autonomous marine systems to support search and rescue missions in catastrophes. The robotic equipment that is being developed will be able to autonomously find survivors in catastrophes and thus free rescue teams of the more difficult and dangerous tasks. The UMS being developed for the EDA aims to increase the autonomous aquatic vehicles’ capacity for naval defence to help detect naval mines and introduce counter measures.

TriMARES awarded Innovation Prize by Exame Informática

ROBIS’ evolution was recently recognised with an award for TriMARES, the underwater robot, in the category of Innovation Prizes “The Best of 2011” by the Exame Informática magazine. These awards aim to recognise outstanding people and companies that are developing new technology nationwide. 

TriMARES is an aquatic surveillance robot that was recently exported to Brazil as part of a project with the Federal University of Juiz de Fora and it will be used to examine the Lajeado lake bed to collect data on the water quality and verify the condition of the dam wall. This monitoring equipment is able to inspect dams and silting in the basins in real time with precision to the nearest centimetre. TriMARES is an evolution of the MARES submarine that was also developed by the INESC TEC team and the Faculty of Engineering of the University of Porto (FEUP) and has been used in environmental monitoring campaigns since 2007.  

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For António Paulo Moreira, this award “recognised the excellent quality of the research developed at the unit and the innovative applications and equipment”. “Everyone involved more than deserves this award” he adds.

Semantic Pacs receives Honourable Mention in Software category

In additon to TriMARES, Semantic Pacs also received an Honourable Mention in the Software category. Sematic Pacs was developed by the Telecommunications and Multimedia Unit (UTM) at INESC TC in conjunction with a team from FEUP. Semantic Pacs makes it possible to automatically analyse mammograms. The process is conducted by comparing similar cases and the software can automatically analyse and validate cases where breast cancer diagnosis is clear. This system is 100% reliable in detecting malignant tumours. Therefore, it reduces the time patients must spend waiting for diagnosis, thus reducing their emotional distress. This project represents real progress for the detection of breast cancer.

The award ceremony took place during the “Best of Portuguese Technology” conference organised by Exame Informática and Expresso and it took place at the Pavilhão do Conhecimento, in Lisbon, on 5th December.

The award “Best of 2011” in Innovation for TriMARES celebrates a year of dramatic growth for the Robotics and Intelligent Systems Unit. ROBIS has strengthened its position in robotics, making it an outstanding unit in Portuguese robotics with international recognition.

Have your say


Edimar Oliveira, Leonardo Honório and Pedro Barbosa, professors at the Federal University of Juiz de Fora (UFJF) and collaborators of the TriMARES project in Brazil

BIP – What is your opinion of your participation in INESC Porto?

Pedro Barbosa and Edimar Oliveira - Our interaction with researchers from INESC Porto at FEUP has been great. We have had the opportunity to observe and participate in studies conducted by the Robotics and Intelligent Systems Unit, particularly those linked to OceanSys Lab. This partnership with the Federal University of Juiz de Fora (UFJF) will really boost our research group in Robotics and Industrial Automation.

BIP – What have you gained from this experience?

PB&EO - In 2009 the UFJF launched Undergraduate and Postgraduate research courses (Masters and PhD) in Robotics and Industrial Automation. Therefore, this participation in ROBIS has helped us establish courses based on international, award-winning knowledge and research.

BIP – What has been the impact of TriMARES? Is the robot a success in Brazil?

PB&EO - TriMARES has had both a regional and national impact. At the UFJF, TriMARES has given real visibility to the new course, encouraging new students and researchers to join the Robotics group. Nationally, TriMARES will inspect and assess silting in dams and lakes and hydroelectric plants throughout Brazil. In addition, when visiting the laboratory, researchers from the Petrobras Centre of Research (CENPS) showed an interest in developing this technology to inspect deep waters.

Credits "The Best of 2011": Exame Informática



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