„Proof of Concept“ grant for ATHENE researcher


Distinction for research on Artificial Intelligence for flexible robots

Prof Jan Peters of the TU Darmstadt has been awarded with a “Proof of Concept” grant in the amount of 150.000 Euro by the European Research Council (ERC). He received the prize for his project “AssemblySkills”, which aims to provide robots with the skill of autonomous learning using Artificial Intelligence.

The project “AssemblySkills” operates on the basis of the methods of the Artificial Intelligence developed within the frame of the ERC Starting Grant “SKILLS4ROBOTS – Policy Learning of Motor Skills for Humanoid Robots”. This project led to a well-structured, modular steering architecture, potentially being able to scale robot programming for more complex tasks in the real world. In this modular steering architecture, multiple basic modules – motion primitives – are adjusted, sequenced or coactivated simultaneously to complete the robot’s tasks.

The project’s goal is to put all modules together in one complete software package that enables robots to learn new skills, especially with installation work. Research funded by the grant will be focusing on a cost-effective, innovative automatic learning system that exploits the potential of production robots by enabling them to work with and adapt to parametric elements, for example motion primitives. The approach by Professor Jan Peters’ research team is unique for its ability to focalise more than one lane at a time. This is already the case for competing approaches, which spares the adjustment of guidelines, requires only a small amount of data and offers the robot operator a solution.

About the Proof of Concept Grant

Proof of Concept is a complementary grant to the research grant by the ERC. It is meant solely for researchers who have already received an ERC grant and aim to promote their research results from an ongoing or a completed project commercially. This is the first step toward a technology transfer.

The goal of the Proof of Concept project is to evaluate the market potential of such ideas. This means that the ERC does not finance research activities, but rather invests in development measures for the application, commercialisation and marketing of ideas. 55 researchers from eleven countries were awarded with the ERC Proof of Concept Grant in the latest round. The grants are part of the EU research and innovation program Horizon 2020.

Prof. Jan Peters leads the research group "Intelligent Autonomous Systems" at TU Darmstadt. At ATHENE, he leads the project “EXplainable REinforcement Learning for Secure Intelligent Systems”, which is currently developing the first toolbox for an explanatory Deep Reinforcement Learning for intelligent systems.

TU Darmstadt report


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