We envision smart and flexible environments where humans and machines, each with different capabilities, strengths and weaknesses, work together, coping with unforeseen and changing circumstances. Many embodiments of such an environment are possible: in the areas of manufacturing, energy, agriculture, logistics and retail.


The manufacturing industry is very strong in Flanders and will in the context of industry 4.0, with more flexible production, surely benefit from AI-based technological advances in its smart factories of the future with humans interacting seamlessly with smart machines (robots, production machines, machine fleets). AI agents perform complex tasks or support humans in performing complex tasks. Smart factories have a high need of flexibility (able to switch tasks swiftly) and reduce time to learn a new task (both for robots and humans).

The machines will need detailed and real-time monitoring. The overall manufacturing cycle or production line needs to be optimized and flexible in the Industry 4.0 concept. The fleets of machines, robots and AGVs (automated guided vehicles) require a high-level of control and need to collaborate. AGVs need to navigate efficiently without any problems in changing factory environments.


The energy sector will benefit from AI solutions to improve the prognostic health management of and the production of energy in wind turbine parks, and with decision support for smart energy distribution in low voltage grids.

Some actual use cases and demonstrators in these sectors are:

Use case Contact Person
Overview Sabine Demey, imec
(Smart Monitoring, Smart Control, Smart Agents, Flexible Production Lines, Robots, AGVs)
Steven Latré, Uantwerp
Elena Tsiporkova, Sirris
Abdel Bey-Temsamani, Flanders Make
Ivo Couckuyt, UGent
Ann Nowé, VUB
Axel Nackaerts, imec
Energy - Low Voltage Distribution Grids
(Prediction of congestions)
Bart De Moor, KULeuven
Koen Vanthournout, VITO, Energyville
Energy – Wind Turbine Parks
(Prognostic Health Management, Smart Control)
Ann Nowé, Jan Helsen, VUB
Elena Tsiporkova, Sirris

Multiple research groups collaborate on this research domain. The above table only mentions the contact person and his/her affiliation.

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