On Wednesday (03/02) the UNEXUP consortium had the Second Progress meeting, online. This event was initially planned to happen in Tampere, Finland, hosted by the partner Tampere University. However, the current COVID-19 restrictions made the project partners switch it to a virtual meeting.

The purpose of Progress Meetings is to discuss and update the work accomplished within each of the Work Packages, and to collect input from the Advisory Board regarding the future steps to be pursued. In this opportunity, the WP leaders presented their work, followed by questions and an open discussion about specific topics to be prioritized in the upcoming weeks and months.

Work Package 0: Market strategy and business development portfolio. UNEXMIN GeoRobotics Ltd., company responsible for the commercialization of the technology developed in UNEXUP, presented the updates on the business plan and go-to-market strategy, as well as the marketing channels that have been developed. UGR now has its own website and LinkedIn page to expand their professional network and promote its services to their potential customers. In addition, the new BlueROV2 and the ROV Training Program were presented and commented by the consortium.

Work Package 1: Technology upscaling and development. The partners INESC TEC, RCI/4dcoders and University of Miskolc presented the evolution of the new UX-1Neo robot, as well as the scientific instrumentation under development, and post-processing techniques to be implemented in the future field missions in UNEXUP. The main topics were about the advancements and comparison between the former UX-1, developed within the UNEXMIN project, and the recent UX-1Neo, which is its upscaled version.

Work Package 2: Pilots. The COVID-19 restrictions have compromised the schedule of pilot tests during 2020. However, UGR – WP Leader – have presented the strategy and upcoming field missions to be performed in 2021 in Europe and worldwide.

Work Package 3: Project Management. The project coordinator Norbert Zajzon – University of Miskolc (UNIM) – provided an overview of the practicalities and communications from EIT RawMaterials.

Work Package 4: Communication, dissemination and outreach. The company LPRC made a brief presentation on the tasks and outreach materials that have been developed in 2020 and 2021, to increase visibility of UNEXUP updates and results to the target audiences.

The following section was an open discussion about priorities and logistics related to the overall work plan of 2021, focusing on the field trials to be scheduled and performed. These field trials will demonstrate the capabilities of the new robot of collecting spatial and geoscientific information from inaccessible underwater sites, which reflects the uniqueness of the technology involved in the project.

Afterwards the Advisory Board provided their feedback and input collected from the presentations. Their expertise and contribution were extremely useful to steer the project to the right direction, with the purpose of achieving its key goals and avoiding potential obstacles.

The partners are now more prepared and motivated to continue the work in 2021 and make impactful progress despite the challenges imposed by the current pandemic situation. Stay tuned!

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