CRTA Zagreb: Regional Centre of Excellence for Robotic Technologies Opens

Lauren Simmonds

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As Iva Badanjak/Novac writes, CRTA Zagreb’s grand opening took place with the participation of Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic, University Rector Damir Boras and numerous other government officials.

The new facility will position itself as a regional reference centre for research, development and education in the field of robotics and artificial intelligence (AI) and a unique scientific and technological infrastructure in Southeastern Europe.

CRTA Zagreb consists of three laboratories for medical robotics, computer intelligence and an autonomous system, two student practicums, a toolbox and a space for researchers. The centre is intended for students in teaching, then scientific research projects and finally for various business people. One of the most important goals of the CRTA Zagreb will be to promote robotics in everyday life, as a branch of technology that can save people time, conducting simple tasks for them so that they have more time for other activities.

It also wants to attract researchers and research institutions from Croatia’s immediate region and Europe and thus increase the scientific potential of the Zagreb FSB in this particular area. This will certainly be helped by the fact that for the needs of the development of medical robotics, a fully equipped operating room has been built, which enables the conduct of pre-clinical trials in real conditions.

Before visiting CRTA Zagreb, the project leader, Professor Bojan Jerbic, briefly presented the development and possibilities of the brand new facility, pointing out that the project started way back in 2005 and was primarily focused on cognitive robotics and the method of learning, ie how to teach robots by demonstration.

In 2016, the first robotic neurosurgical operation in Croatia was performed with the medical robot RONNA. RONNA experienced the 4th generation in 2018, won numerous awards in the category of best innovation and performed operations regularly until the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Currently, the goal is for RONNA to grow from a project to a startup and be offered to the rest of the world.

“We’re pleased that the most modern centre for robotic technologies has been opened within our Zagreb Faculty. This proves our commitment to knowledge, innovation and development and makes us leaders in the technological revolution here in Croatia and the immediate region. Centres of excellence and research generate innovation for both the economy and society and they make everything more advanced and successful, so I believe that CRTA Zagreb will bring together numerous teams of scientists from the region and Europe and witness numerous pioneering solutions and technological products that will improve industry and medicine, but also Croatian society as a whole,” said Jerbic.

The construction of a modernly equipped space, which covers 740 m2, began back in pre-pandemic 2019. The centre is located in the eastern building of the FSB, in the former laboratory for the development of HRT films. The CRTA project is estimated at almost 38 million kuna, and is co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund in the amount of almost 37 million kuna.

The dean of the FSB, Dubravko Majetic, said that CRTA Zagreb was officially opened on Monday and that they were expecting new students to enroll in a few days at the first university study of mechatronics and robotics. The initial quota of 60 students has already been filled.

The Rector of the University of Zagreb pointed out that CRTA is a top world project and “our future in scientific, educational and economic terms”.

The Prime Minister, Andrej Plenkovic, emphasised the importance of investing in science, which is a public good and the key to achieving personal, social and economic success.

“The success of the FSB proves that Croatia has great scientists and innovators and that we’re making great progress in the field of innovation, and the role of the state is to support that growth and development, so the goal is to invest 3 percent of GDP in science, education and excellence,” Plenkovic said.

CRTA Zagreb is also open to the public, as a place to spread technical and robotic culture, primarily for high school and elementary school students, but also for everyone else who is interested in the latest technologies that are changing the future of business and lifestyle as well know them.

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