The “Asociación de Investigación y Cooperación Industrial de Andalucía”, AICIA , is a non-profit organization created in 1982 within the “Escuela Técnica Superior de Ingenieros Industriales” of the University of Seville, whose purpose is to promote, guide and develop the research in Science and Technology. AICIA has been recognized as an Innovation Support Centre (number 15) by the “Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad” and as a Centre for Innovation and Technology (number AC01011CIT) and a Knowledge Transfer Entity (number 0260ETC) by the “Junta de Andalucía”. It currently has 28 working teams, about 200 collaborating researchers from the University of Seville and its own staff of more than a hundred people.
The AICIA working teams develop their activity in different sectors: energy, materials, nanotechnology, environment, organization engineering, manufacturing technology, information and communication technology, transportation, infrastructures and aeronautics. The AICIA working team with the greatest relevance in the technological line of iMOV3D is the Robotics, Vision and Control Group (GRVC), currently with more than 30 people, including 13 professors, 6 post-doctoral researchers and 9 PhD students. This group plays a relevant international role in aerial robotics and unmanned aerial systems, combining pure scientific research with technology development, including knowledge transfer and application development in collaboration with the industry.
GRVC researchers have participated in 23 aerial robotics projects in 2018, including 13 European projects in the H2020 framework (Robotics, Galileo, SESAR, Transportation and Clean Skies calls), as well as an “Advanced Grant” of the European Research Council. In fact, GRVC members in AICIA have participated or led a total of 32 European projects since its creation: 5 FP4 projects, 4 in FP5 (leading one), 4 in FP6 (leading one), 8 in FP7 (leading three) and 12 in the Horizon 2020, leading the AEROARMS (in which the first aerial robot with advanced capabilities for industrial inspection and maintenance was developed) and AERIAL-CORE projects.
The GRVC members have an aggregate expertise of more than 20 years in various technological areas related to iMOV3D technologies, such as development of innovative technologies for fixed and rotatory unmanned aircrafts, including fault detection and reconfiguration, collision detection and avoidance, navigation in areas without GNSS, simultaneous location and mapping (SLAM) based on cameras and on-board range sensors, and aerial robotics manipulation. The GRVC researchers have also developed new methods for the coordination and autonomous cooperation of UAS, including techniques for surveillance, detection, monitoring and tracking of ground objectives with several aircrafts in a cooperative manner. The video “10 years on the cooperation of multiple unmanned systems” was finalist in the “Specific major achievement/milestone in intelligent robotics and/or intelligent systems research in the last 25 years” in the international conference IROS 2012.
The head of the GRVC in AICIA, Prof. Aníbal Ollero, was granted in November 2018 with an “Advanced Grant” from the “European Research Council” to develop new aerial robotic systems with improved flight capabilities, autonomy and handling abilities. He has also recently been awarded by a jury composed by 19 Nobel Prizes with the “Rei Jaume I” prize in the area of New Technologies for his advances in the next drones’ generations and in the new methods for aerial robot indoor location and navigation for applications such as logistics. In addition, Aníbal Ollero is “IEEE Fellow” for “his contributions to the development and implementation of aerial robots”, “Co-Chair” of the “IEEE Technical Committee on Aerial Robotics and Unmanned Aerial Systems”, member of the “Board of Directors of euRobotics”, coordinator of the Aerial Robotics Group in euRobotics and member of the Centre of Excellence in RPAS of AESA.
In the last five years, the GRVC team in AICIA has obtained external funding of more than 12 million euros based on more than 55 projects, 23 of them being contracts with companies and the rest of them research projects of the European Commission and national and regional research programs. During this period, more than 170 scientific publications have been generated, including about 60 papers in journals indexed in the JCR database and 13 PhD thesis dissertations. The GRVC team has been awarded with six international awards (the ICT European Commission Global Radar Award and three European Innovators of the year among them), and three national awards, including the previously mentioned “Rei Jaume I”.
Finally, it should be mentioned that the GRVC group has transferred technology to more than 15 companies such as Airbus D&S, Airbus Operations, Boeing, Navantia, Iturri Group, Indra, Elecnor-Deimos, Faasa, Iberdrola, Applus, Mc2, Emasesa, TSK, Diagnostiqa and DroneTools, currently working on 8 contracts with companies in several areas related to the iMOV3D technologies.