Interview with Cristophe Leroux, coordinator of RIMA project

Dec 21, 2021

We interviewed Christophe Leroux, coordinator for Robotics for Infrastructure Inspection and Maintenance, or RIMA for short. RIMA focuses on six sectors: oil & gas, nuclear, transport hubs, water supply and sanitation, energy production and distribution, and roads-rails-waterways. RIMA has more than twenty partners from Research and Technology organisations, universities, and other facilitators — which make up the collective RIMA network part of the Digital Innovation Hubs (DIHs).

Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your background?

I was trained in AI and decision theory at the end of the 1980s and received a  PhD in AI applied to robotics. For more than 35 years, I have been working at the robotics Unit of CEA in applications of robotics for hazardous environments (nuclear, underwater) and in assistive robotics for the autonomy of quadriplegic people. I am a project manager and a member of the euRobotics AISBL board of directors and I am also active in setting up the European co-programmed partnership ADRA on AI, Data and Robotics.

Which technology areas will have the biggest impact in the coming years? Why?

Well, I think that the biggest impact will be by AI, HPC, sensors, 5G/6G and cybersecurity to facilitate deployment and effectiveness of solutions. 

What is the role of DIHs in the accelerating robotics innovations of the EU? How can this role be strengthened?

The role of DIHs in the acceleration of robotics innovations of the EU is the offering of expertise, technology advice, support of Proof of Concept, testing, advice on business opportunities and connection to actors of the value chain. 

What are the key elements which robotics Digital Innovation Hubs should use to support the digitalisation of their local ecosystems?

I believe that the key elements to be used for the support of the digitalisation of the local systems are market analysis, alignment with public policies, interaction with policymakers, digital platforms crossing domains, technologies and ecosystem description. 

Which policies should the robotics DIHs pay attention to in the coming years?

In the coming years, the robotics DIHs should pay attention to policies related to financial support for research and innovation and technology renewal and the competition with the US and Asia.

What are some future funding opportunities for the robotics DIHs?

There are several future funding opportunities for the robotics DIHs, such as the Innovation and Investment funds and Industrial funds. 

Please, name a few challenges and opportunities of robotics DIHs in Europe?

As an example, to raise funds to support innovation, the transfer of technologies, and the offer of services. Moreover, an opportunity would be the offer of geographically and linguistically close access. Finally, for robotics DIHs to share and exchange information and experience among themselves.

Find out more about RIMA here and on their social media platforms.