Telefónica and ARME launch robotics research lab

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Telefonica Tech, the telco’s inventive arm, and the Spanish Mobile Robotics Association (ARME) have teamed up to open a hub designed to boost the field of robotics in Spain.

The hub will be located in ‘The ThinX’, Telefónica Tech’s IoT and big data applied technology laboratory, and will allow firms to ‘research, innovate and co-create’ on technologies around communications, robots, software, navigation and localisation, cloud, edge computing, cyber security, AI and blockchain.

Telefonica boasts that ‘The ThinX’ has become ‘one of the most advanced and equipped technological environments in the world’ and says there will also be another 200 m2 test area at the DTA facilities in Torrejón de Ardoz. It’s the usual ‘open tech lab’ pitch of a sandbox area for firms to come in and try out their new toys, aided by the resources of the Telefonica umbrella.

The idea is the hub will help encourage robotics firms to set up shop in Spain, with ARME offering access to human resources specialised in mobile robotics and legal support for the creation of subsidiaries of foreign companies there. We’re told ARME’s vision is to make Spain the world leader in mobile robotics, and it expects the sector to have a compound annual growth rate of more than 10% over the next five years.

“The creation of this mobile robotics hub will allow us to share knowledge and expand our capabilities in this field to develop the most innovative robotic solutions in demand in the market that help companies to digitally transform and gain in efficiency”, said Elena Gil Lizasoain, global director of product and business operations for IoT and Big Data at Telefónica Tech.

Javier Miguélez, President of ARME added: “We see the creation of the international mobile robotics technology hub as a key step towards Spain’s leadership in the world of mobile robotics. The hub will generate more and better technological developments in our country. It will also attract foreign companies, promoting employment in a key sector for our future.”

The stated remit is pretty wide, but the lynchpin area is robotics so it will most likely be focusses on how things like AI and cybersecurity interlace with next generation robotic hardware – what form that takes will depend on who pitches up.

Telefonica Tech gets involved in a lot of these sorts of schemes whether its about IoT or 6G, however when it comes to AI its chairman and CEO José María Álvarez-Pallete aired some concerns recently, saying: “A runaway or power-hungry GenAI is an existential risk. It could make molecules that are harmful to humans or lead to models of fake news or deep fakes becoming a threat to democracy through mass campaigns of systematic and undetectable disinformation.”

“Unlimited intelligence placed at the service of particular interests can create chemical or cybernetic weapons. The very companies that develop GenAI do so without knowing how to stop the process when GenAI acquires a degree of unrestrained autonomy.”

Fingers crossed none of that emerges from one of these labs, then.


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