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Collaborative robotics

List institute designs and develops collaborative robots or “cobots” sensitive in terms of efforts, precise and safe that interacts with a human operator: task sharing in a common work space, gesture or heavy weight assistance etc. We also design exoskeletons.

Our researchers rely on their competencies in mechanics, electronics, automatics and computer science. They collaborate with industrial companies from nuclear, off-shore, mining, manufacturing and medical sectors (surgery assistance, minimally invasive surgery).

Among our academic partners

ISIR (Paris 6 University’s Institute for Smart Systems and Robotics), LIRRM (Montpellier University and CNRS Laboratory of Informatics, Robotics and Microelectronics), IRCCyN (Joint research unit on communication and cybernetics between CNRS and Ecole Centrale de Nantes), Cetim (The French Technical centre for mechanical industry)

Our assets

  • Robots complete design and development without reuse of existing products or functions for a perfect adjustment to application,
  • Researchers involvement until operational use,
  • Future ISO standard on force feed-back telemanipulation for nuclear sector held by List

European projects

The CEA List institute leads several european projects:

Reference: ICT-824990, 2019 – 2022, Budget: 16 M€,Coordinator: CEA LIST (FR)
Objectives: RIMA is a 4-year project aiming to achieve this by establishing a network of 13 Digital Innovation Hubs (DIH) on robotics and a large number of industry associations sharing best practices and providing services to facilitate step change in uptake of I&M technologies.
Description & Results:
RIMA will pursue the following goals:

  • To establish a network of Digital Innovation Hubs.
  • To support Cross border experimentation and support to EU SMEs
  • To provide robotics I&M education and training
  • To connect the EU I&M robotics to other domains and share best practises
Reference: H2020 ICT- 732410, 2017 – 2020, Budget: 8 M€, Coordinator: CEA (FR)
Objectives: RobMoSys will coordinate the whole community’s best and consorted effort to build an open and sustainable, agile and multi-domain European robotics software ecosystem.
Description & Results:
The project proposes composable models and software for robotics systems:

  • Integrated approach built on top of the current code-centric robotic platforms, by applying model-driven methods and tools.
  • Management of the interfaces between different robotics-related domains in an efficient and systematic way according to each system’s needs.
  • Quality-of-Service properties, enabling a composition-oriented approach while preserving modularity.
  • Drive the non-competitive part of building a professional quality ecosystem by encouraging the community involvement.
  • Elaborate many of the common robot functionalities based on broad involvement of the community via two Open Calls.

The CEA List institute is also involved in various other european projects:

A pan-European project that exists to significantly increase safety for humans and robots working in shared spaces.
Reference: FP7 ICT-601116, 2013 – 2018, Budget: 6.5 M€, Coordinator: TUM (GE)
Objectives: ECHORD aims at producing new knowledge through advancing the state of the art in selected research foci and developing novel technology from which new products can be derived. Within ECHORD, opportunities for knowledge advancement and technology transfer between academia and industry will be created across the whole continent. This will be achieved through the solicitation of focused, small-size RTD projects, so-called experiments. Via these experiments, ECHORD will bring about a large-scale introduction of robotic equipment into research institutions. This is expected to result in both tangible and measurable out-comes in terms of the accelerated development of technologies, as well as the deployment of robotics technology into new scenarios for the direct application of research results. For ECHORD, three such scenarios have been defined: human-robot co-working, hyper flexible cells, and cognitive factories. The foremost purpose of the scenarios is to define an environment that is both scientifically challenging to research institutions and commercially relevant to robot manufacturers.
Description & Results:
Three RIFs (Research Innovation Facilities) in UK, IT, FR:

  • facilities for bringing experiments (i.e. researchers and industry) in direct contact with current and new users of robotics technologies.
  • software and hardware platforms as well as profound knowledge for systems integration
  • host for benchmark suites, e.g. for system robustness, and support to standardization efforts.CEA Role: responsible of the RIF Paris Salay and the experiments done in.
Reference: : ICT-645582, 2015 – 2018, Budget: 6.5 M€, Coordinator: University of Birmingham (UK)
Objectives: The RoMaNS project will advance the state of the art in mixed autonomy for tele-manipulation, to solve a challenging and safety-critical “sort and segregate” industrial problem, driven by urgent market and societal needs.
Description & Results:
the results of ROMANS project are:

  • Develop novel hardware and software solutions for advanced bi-lateral master-slave tele-operation.
  • Develop advanced autonomy methods for highly adaptive automatic grasping and manipulation actions.
  • Combine autonomy and tele-operation methods using state-of-the-art understanding of mixed initiative planning, variable autonomy and shared control approaches.
  • Deliver a TRL 6 demonstration in an industrial plant-representative environment at the UK National Nuclear Lab Workington test facility.CEA Role: responsible for the novel hardware and software solutions for advanced bi-lateral master-slave tele-operation.

Reference: ICT-601003, 2013 – 2017, Budget: 4.735 M€, Coordinator: TECNALIA (Spain)
Objectives: in order to move exoskeletons for-walking toward real life applications, BALANCE will realize a platform-independent control strategy and architecture for such exoskeletons. The work will focus on robust balance performance and thus safety of the human wearing the exoskeleton.
Description & Results:
The results of BALANCE project are:

  • Understanding in more detail the human control of postural balance
  • Realize monitoring of the postural balance of a human-exoskeleton combination in functional human walking.
  • Create a human-cooperative robotic postural balance controller framework
  • Implement the human cooperative postural balance controller on a real exoskeleton.CEA Role: responsible for the System Implementation, Integration and Evaluation WP, development of the experimental platform for human cooperative controller.

Reference: ICT-231640, 2009 – 2013, Budget: 8.2 M€, Coordinator: UNIVERSITE PIERRE ET MARIE CURIE - PARIS 6 (Fr)
Objectives: The HANDLE project aims at understanding how humans perform the manipulation of objects in order to replicate grasping and skilled in-hand movements with an anthropomorphic artificial hand, and thereby move robot grippers from current best practice towards more autonomous, natural and effective articulated hands. The goal is to endow the proposed robotic hand with advanced perception capabilities, high level feedback control and elements of intelligence that allow recognition of objects and context, reasoning about actions and a high degree of recovery from failure during the execution of dexterous tasks.
CEA Role: responsible for the design and prototyping of a novel electric force control dextrous robotic hand.

Reference: ICT-248552, 2010 – 2012, Budget: 2.3 M€, Coordinator: KUKA Laboratories GmbH (D)
Objectives:Improvement of cooperation between all robotics stakeholders and domains.
Description & Results:
EURobotics targets two main objectives: the improvement of cooperation between industry and academia and the enhancement of public perception of European robotics. In an ideal world, academia finds solutions required by industry to develop products that fulfil a market need. Both communities benefit from this cooperation because academia receives funds through technology transfers and industry can enhance their market position through innovative products. This project gave European robotics an advantage by kick-starting several of the stimulations required for this ideal world to be realised. The strategic impact of EURobotics lies in defining and implementing activities involving all relevant stakeholders and to thereby allowing European robotics to maintain its strong position and to gain worldwide leadership.

The institute is also involved in AGROBOFOOD, HERO, ESMERA, TERRINET, HORSE, ESPRIT and EBSF 2.

Major technologies

Ball-screw actuation and very low friction cables


The traditional effort sensors are here being replaced by electric engines current-regulated compensation. Using ball-screw and cables instead of poly-articulated systems removes most of friction problems. Actuation efficiency can then go beyond 97% instead of 80 to 85% for standard market robots: this sharpness and precision gain makes it possible to execute very precise and delicate tasks.


Exoskeleton for gesture assistance (chain workers, operator, elderly and/or disabled people)


Hercule, the very first European exoskeleton has been developed in our labs since 2009 in collaboration with RB3D Company. Hercule is equiped with reversible cables actuators and with an ARM Cortex-8 computer core for a real-time movement management. He offers a high level of fluidity and operation plus an excellent energetic efficiency with a 4h autonomy at 5km/h. Several upper and lower body exoskeleton demonstrators have been developed for military and civilian applications on heavy weight manipulation and highly painful work tasks assistance.

A whole body exoskeleton that will bring back mobility to tetraplegic people is actually being studied. It is made of 2 arms with 7 degrees of freedom effort controlled plus Hecule’s legs’ next version.

Major projects


Dextre cooperative manipulation


We are actually developing an articulated arm with a high level of dexterity and versatility targeting industrial applications that request human hand and arm precision.

Major projects