Limerick based automotive electronic systems manufacturer Kostal has agreed a partnership deal with Irish Software SFI Research Centre Lero for a €800,000 R&D programme to create autonomous robots for assembly lines.

The Science Foundation of Ireland will fund the research for the programme, led by Lero partner IT Tralee and the University of Limerick. 

Lero's research is focused on autonomous software systems that will have capabilities to automatically adapt to their environment.  

The first leg of research will involve sourcing and developing cost effective mobile autonomous adaptive systems capable of remote, robotic, and autonomous operations.

Data analytics, machine learning, and scheduling using data from an array of sensors will be the second stage of research. 

The director general of Science Foundation Ireland and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government, Mark Ferguson, said, "Programmes such as this will boost the knowledge base in Ireland in the important area of flexible autonomous systems, which will ultimately bring economic benefit." 

Kostal has two Irish manufacturing plants in Abbeyfeale, Co Limerick and Mallow, Co Cork that in total employ 900 people.

This is Lero's third major announcement this year focused on autonomous systems research. 

In January, IT Tralee Lero researchers, alongside Dairymaster, announced a €2m programme to develop autonomous systems for easing  workloads on dairy farms.  

In February, NUI Galway researchers worked on a driver-less car programme with Valeo.