It’s more than three years since RoboValley established itself as a robotics community. In that time the foundation has found a home on Delft’s Julianalaan; become an incubator for some 17 startups; and – under the guidance of managing director, Anouschka Versleijen – positioned itself at the heart of a fast-growing eco-system driving the development of robotics and artificial intelligence (AI).
Changes in leadership
From February 2020, Jaimy Siebel takes over from Anouschka who will be joining the RoboValley board, and taking the lead on public affairs for Delft University of Technology.
Jaimy is no stranger to RoboValley. He has spent the last two years setting up RoboHouse, RoboValley’s fieldlab, which brings together innovative organisations and individuals who discover and test out the possibilities of robotics. The fieldlab is already enjoying success, with multiple projects underway with partners which include, Heineken, KLM, Ahold Delhaize, numerous local SMEs, as well as individual students and researchers.
Jaimy comments: “I am proud to be taking over from Anouschka who has laid solid foundations for RoboValley to grow its impact.” For Jaimy the opportunity lies in helping define the future of physical work. “The employee of the future wants work that is healthy, meaningful and adds economic value. RoboValley, with its community of engineers, is in a strong position to initiate co-creation and unlock the potential of increased automation and AI in future employment.”
“The employee of the future wants work that is healthy, meaningful and adds economic value. RoboValley, with its community of engineers, is in a strong position to initiate co-creation and unlock the potential of increased automation and AI in future employment.”
Jaimy Siebel – Managing Director RoboValley
Robotics make work better
This is no mere pipe-dream. You need look no further than the thriving startup community to find the emerging evidence of this vision. Take Fleet Cleaner. This startup has developed robots to clean ships’ hulls of slime, algae and barnacles – crucial to maintaining a vessel’s efficiency and reducing carbon emissions. Previously this dangerous job was left to divers, but with Fleet Cleaner, the robot quite literally does the dirty work. Meanwhile, the operator stays warm and dry above deck, controlling the whole operation remotely and reviewing detailed reports on the hull’s condition. Fleet Cleaner is already being broadly adopted in the Port of Rotterdam.
Establishing new roots
It’s not just the startups. RoboValley’s fieldlab has also got its eye (and sensors) fully focused on the future of work. With successful projects underway across the retail, logistics and smart manufacturing sectors, the aim is to bring the learnings to other sectors. Horticulture is one sector where Jaimy recognises big opportunities. He sees that automation and AI could contribute to securing a sustainable and affordable food supply, while reducing the number of repetitive physical tasks. On April 23 and April 24, RoboValley will kick-start its horticultural work with the RoboCrop Harvesting Hackathon. Teams of engineers will gather in RoboHouse for 36 intensive hours of designing, testing and harvesting with their horticultural bots. More details can be found here: https://robovalley.com/activities/events/robocrops/
Healthy nurses with time to care
Healthcare is another sector, where Jaimy feels RoboValley can help. “Take nurses,” he explains, “In the future, what’s certain is that we’ll need more people to care for an ageing population. But what will nursing look like ten years from now? What physical support might robots give nurses so they too will remain fit and healthy? For example could robots help reduce the fatigue-inducing number of steps nurses have to walk in their shift? And how could AI offer cognitive support so that nurses make the best decisions for their patients – at just the right time? And how do we build a system which ensures nurses have more time to spend caring for their patients face-to-face? These are the sort of questions we are eager to explore and build solutions for with our robotics community.”