Sunday, 31 March 2019

Torpedo - Croatian Invention Which Changed Naval Warfare Forever

At the Croatian Maritime Museum in Split, the most valuable specimens of torpedo weapons have been being exhibited from the world's first torpedo factory, in Rijeka. This British-Croatian invention took the world of naval warfare by storm, and its two creators, one from Rijeka in Croatia and the other from Bolton in England, are being honoured.

As Morski writes on the 30th of March, 2019, the museum's curators Petra Blažević and Ljubomir Radić formed a new museum exhibition of the torpedo collection back in 2016. The occasion was the 150th anniversary of the emergence of torpedoes, which was once the most prominent weapon to have existed in naval warfare, the prototypes of which were created by Giovanni Biagio Luppis Freiherr von Rammer, sometimes also known by the Croatian name of Vukić, a Croat born in Rijeka, who served in the Austro-Hungarian Navy.

We often hear that the torpedo was entirely invented in Croatia, but in terms of international recognition, that honour goes to the the British public, more specifically to Robert Whitehead, an English engineer born in Bolton in northern England, who gained his fame for the development of the very first effective self-propelled naval torpedo.

Luppis, born in Rijeka with family ties to the southern Dalmatian region of Pelješac, had the desire to create the so-called "coast guard,'' which was a self-managed ship loaded with an explosive to protect the coast from attacks coming from the sea. Since he had no funds for the development of such a project, nor did he have the proper engineering knowledge for the task, he connected with the manager of the Rijeka metals factory, Robert Whitehead, a Brit.

From their friendship and cooperation there came a weapon called a torpedo, and how frightening it was to gaze upon this newly-made weapon, French travel writer Victor Tissot testifies, who, after his stay in Rijeka, referred to it as "the most terrible of all sea monsters".

Soon after the ''birth'' of the torpedo, Luppis went to live in Italy and sold his share, production remained in the hands of his friend Robert Whitehead, who was still across the Adriatic sea in his factory in Rijeka. By the end of the 19th century, most of the world's navies started to acquire the Rijeka-made torpedoes and warfare at sea became unthinkable without the use of this weapon, at least until the end of the second world war.

As a natural continuation of the valorisation of this truly outstanding torpedo collection, which has been inherited by the Croatian Maritime Museum in Split, the authors of the exhibition have created a book with a catalog of the collections.

''Both the exhibition and the book bring out the historical context of the torpedo's creation, the biographies of both Luppis and Whitehead, and a series of interesting uses of torpedoes on torpedo boats. The bilingual book, which in honour of the torpedo's British and Croatian creators, has been published in Croatian and English, was promoted to the public back in February at the Nikola Tesla Technical Museum in Zagreb and then again in March in Split,'' said Radić.

Make sure to follow our dedicated lifestyle page for more on Croatian history, inventions, heritage, and much more.

Friday, 29 March 2019

Mirko Kovač Discusses Robotics Possibilities in Croatia

Mirko Kovač, a Swiss scientist and roboticist discusses the situation and the possibilities of developing robotics and this type of technology in the Republic of Croatia.

As Goran Jungvirth/Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 28th of March, 2019, at the international DroneDays conference, which was held this week for the first time at the Zagreb Faculty of Electronics and Computing (FER), Poslovni Dnevnik spoke with Swiss scientist Dr Mirko Kovač, head of the Air Robotics Laboratory at London's Imperial College, as well as the newly established Swiss Robotic Centre for Materials and Technology.

This centre was created in conjunction with the London Laboratory, which Kovač also included in collaboration with FER's Robotics and Intelligent Management Systems (LARICS). Due to this co-operation that has been going on for several years, the Zagreb and London labs have received (EU Obzor 2020) the AeRo Twin project (Twinning co-ordination action for spreading excellence in Aerial Robotics).

How did this important co-operation happen?

I met Croatian robot-makers from FER about five years ago when I had a lecture in Dubrovnik. They're working on some good projects, interesting ones. They're part of a robotics society, a global community. Together we applied and received the European project AeRo Twin (Twinning co-ordination action for spreading excellence in Aerial Robotics).

What will that project enable?

The project aims to convey the knowledge of various groups in Europe. It's actually networking with leading robot scientists to share their knowledge and experience on flying robots and in that way, reach the top of the world's robotics. Within the project, various lectures will be organised as well as the exchange of scientists. I can hardly wait for the roboticists from Croatia to come to London to see what can be done in Zagreb. There will be plenty of practical work, not just theory. I'm very happy to cooperate with Croatian scientists and to keep track of what's happening in robotics in Croatia.

Why is Croatia so dear to you?

Well, I feel close to Croatia. My parents come from Croatia, I have many relatives there, so it's not just about the scientific dimension and interest, but also about the culture of the country that attracts me and the feelings I have for Croatian people. It's nice to be here, to come to where my parents come from and communicate with people whose mentality I like very much.

The Swiss have just built a Robotics Centre within the Federal Laboratory for Materials Science and Technology because of you. What's going on there?

I'm glad that such a research centre has been set up with the aim of [undertaking] the futuristic research of flying robots to work in the buildings of the future. Here, we look at the symbiosis of such robots with people living in a certain space, to develop the robustness of the robots and materials that will increase their functionality and reduce any danger for people. The London lab provides knowledge of robotics, and the Swiss centre, the knowledge of suitable materials.

You haven't forgotten Croatia either, and the mentioned Aerial Robotics project - AeRo Twin opens up opportunities for the development of modern robotics in Croatia...

Yes, the project coordinators are prof. dr. sc. Stjepan Bogdan and Mag. ing. Ivana Mikolić. It's an important project for the future of robotics in Croatia, because, as I've already mentioned, it will enable the exchange of knowledge on flying robots and the mutual practical cooperation on the development of technology.

Is there any potential for developing a robotics centre in Croatia?

Of course there's potential. I think that will be more and more important for Croatia, how digitisation and robotics are being developed, and the strategies for its implementation. Robotics are the essence of this, and will become even more important in the development of artificial intelligence. Robotics can help everyone, and I think that there's great potential for this as far as Croatia is concerned.

When you say potential, do you mean human potential?

Yes, for example, FER has some very good students and has great potential to become a contemporary partner with other science centres in Europe. I'm mostly thinking of human and scientific potential, but there is also the [potential] of the country itself. Projects are growing in the EU and the situation for robotics is gaining traction. But infrastructure is still developing and that's where the chance for Croatia lies. Because Croatia has the sea, there is an opportunity for testing underwater robotics in various economic activities. It has a variety of nature and different terrain, a variety of topologies that can help develop robotic applications. Croatia has a lot of potential.

You were a robotics researcher at the world's most powerful universities, such as Harvard and Berkeley, while you got your doctorate at the Swiss Institute in Lausanne. How hard is it today to educate a robotics scientist, since everything is developing so quickly? You've been talking at Drone Days about the third wave of robotics in the economy. How does one track those standards and reach the top?

You need to be world-oriented for robotics. Yes, it's hard to keep track of it all because it involves the need to know about interdisciplinary science when it comes to robotics. There are many different concepts. Control engineering, algorithms for audiovisual processing, design, mechanics, material science, biology... all of these parts are very demanding even for themselves and it's very difficult to understand them in detail. Scientific collaboration is therefore very important for the development of robotics, because robotics integrates all of that knowledge.

So, a scientist in robotics must develop independently and specialise in certain knowledge, and then collaborate in teams with colleagues from other scientific disciplines?

Yes, that's a multidisciplinary area and collaboration is very important. Robotics is, by its very nature, collaborative, different teams perform different experiments, and then they share their results. That's why the aforementioned European project is important for Croatian robotics as FER scientists will be exchanged in London where they will collaborate with different teams.

How is your new Swiss NEST project progressing?

We're developing our team, it's essential to have cooperation and partnership with other groups from around the world. The biggest challenge is to find solutions for the integration of new materials. The materials are very important. We have a lot to do with the design of flying robots and the development of new autonomous concepts.

Since you live and work in London, what's your comment on Brexit? Will it complicate the co-operation you emphasise as crucial for robotics development for scientists?

There's a fear in the community that Britain will find it very difficult to handle Brexit. Science will suffer for this. The consequences are already apparent, but it's a relief that the top scientists are independent. All the partnerships I've been involved in are independent. British scientists will have to fight to remain involved in EU projects, not to stay isolated. This is a very dangerous situation, but it's good that Britain is investing heavily in the development of science and technology, such as robotics, digitisation and artificial intelligence. There are a lot of possibilities in the UK, but we will have to work hard to keep hold of the UK's cooperation with the rest of Europe.

Are you talking to Croatian scientists about the problems they face in Croatia?

Yes, we're talking...

And what do they complain the most about, what's the most problematic thing for the development of science and technology in Croatia?

I don't have a great deal to say about that, you'll have to ask them. I don't work here, so I don't have any of my own experiences on it.

What's the most important thing in your eyes for the future of robotics?

Multidisciplinarity is the most important thing. One can not think of just one area, but rather how to integrate various aspects of science and apply them to robotics. For example, for the development of my robot grasshopper - with which I earned my doctorate - I needed knowledge from biology and biomechanics. For robotics, everything is important and there's a lot of potential for all other branches of science to contribute to it. Robotics will become very important for the lives of all people.

Make sure to follow our dedicated business page for much more.

 

Click here for the original article/interview by Goran Jungvirth for Poslovni Dnevnik

Sunday, 17 March 2019

Group of Young Croats Create e-Vision Project for the Blind

For such a small country, the Republic of Croatia boasts a wealth of talent across all fields, from medicine to sport and from science to innovation and invention, Croats have given a huge amount to the rest of the world.

While Zadar's Luka Modrić might be the household name of Croatian sport, and the likes of Nikola Tesla and Mate Rimac might be the Croats best known to the world when it comes to science, technology and innovation, there are many more individuals in Croatia given less exposure who have a lot to offer the world, and on across an extremely varied platform consisting of all fields.

As SibenikIN writes on the 16th of March, 2019, a young woman from the historic Dalmatian city of Šibenik, Anastazija Verović, a student of FESB, along with her colleagues, has designed an innovative new device for helping the blind. Thanks to her creation, Anastazija and her team have received yet another award from Split-Dalmatia County for this project,.

Anastazija Verović, Lucija Visković, Ena Sarajlić and Ana Žunabović, are all Croats in their fifth year of graduates studies in computer science at FESB and they expressed their desire to help both the blind and other partially sighted people.

Their desire led this talented young group of Croats to create the e-Vision project, an intelligent device which functions as a bracelet and allows blind and visually impaired persons to move around in spaces. For this praiseworthy project, they have rightfully received a second award in the amount of 4,000 kuna from Split-Dalmatia County.

Split-Dalmatia County Prefect Blaženko Boban presented the presented the award to the talented group of FESB students as the brains behind the best student entrepreneurial and innovative project, according to a report from Dalmacija News.

The first prize of 5,000 kuna was awarded to the e-Agrar project, and was handed over to another talented group of Croats - Slaven Damjanovic, Martin Pervan, Dražen Pervan and Marko Calić. Otherwise, the obviously highly talented Anastazija is set to graduate computer science at FESB this coming summer.

Make sure to stay up to date on Croatian-made innovation, ideas and technology by following our dedicated Made in Croatia page.

Thursday, 13 December 2018

Robotics in Croatia: Osijek Startup Has First Croatian Industrial Robot

Robotics in Croatia is a growing trend, with the constant advancement of technology and innovation, Croatia is putting both feet forward when it comes to developing not only robots, but knowledge.

As Bernard Ivezic/Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 13th of December, 2018, one Osijek-based startup has successfully developed an autonomous robotic platform for cargo transfer and has since presented it to some major global players, names including Orbico, Atlantic and Tokić are now testing it.

The Osijek startup, Gideon Brothers, has thus developed the first Croatian industrial robot. What it involves is an autonomous robotic platform for cargo transport, within the scope of the ''warehouse of the future'' that is increasingly being used by the likes of Amazon and Alibaba, as well as numerous other major logistics and merchants.

It doesn't have a name, at least not for now, but the Croatian autonomous ''robo-warehouse'' has an enviable performance. It can work properly without interruption for 24 hours per day, every day of the year. Its battery allows it to withstand a shift of six hours per piece, and then when the discharged battery is replaced with full one, and the job can continue. It's also fast.

The new step forward in robotics in Croatia, which is also miracle of high technology in itelf, was developed by a team of five doctors of science and 26 experts in the field of hardware and software in Croatia. The robo-warehouse is also a very attractive business product. In less than two years since its inception, this Osijek startup has developed technology which is ten times cheaper and more powerful in collecting its environmental data than the type which is currently the most widely used - the LIDAR driving system.

One example of this are the systems used by Tesla motors in their cars and trucks. Gideon has upgraded LIDAR with its own solution that combines stereo cameras and artificial intelligence (deep learning).

When asked whether the robot has already been seen by some of the biggest global players, such as Amazon and Alibaba, Milan Račić, the co-founder and director of development of Gideon Brothers didn't want to reveal any specific names, while emphasising that they have indeed presented their product "to some of the world's biggest players".

What has been very openly confirmed is that the Osijek startup will target both small and medium-sized companies on a global scale with its product.

"Such robots enable small and medium-sized companies to boost their efficiency and come up to the scale of the same level of competitiveness in transport and logistics which only some of the biggest international companies currently have. Of course, the biggest players are aware of this and they're actively following this technology," Račić says.

Three companies, operating in more than thirty countries and having a massive annual income of over three billion euro, are the first buyers, more specifically, they're the first commercial reference of Gideon's robo-warehouse, which is a major boost not only to this startup in particular but to robotics in Croatia as a whole.

The use of various robotics in Croatia is on the up, and Milan Račić says their product will provide a competitive advantage for Croatian companies and will continue to transform them. Mladen Pejković, senior executive of the Atlantic Group, says that digital transformation is considered an important element for future competitiveness. "That's why we're very excited about the pilot project with Gideon Brothers in the field of artificial intelligence and robotics in our logistics operations," noted Pejković.

"The pace of change will only accelerate in the future, and our partnership with Gideon Brothers will give us tools in the field of artificial intelligence and robotics that will help shape that future," stated Branko Roglić.

Ivan Gadže of the large company Tokić said that in parallel with engaging the best people to help them realise plans to spread to other EU markets, they want to provide their employees with the very best tools to help them achieve this.

"Strategic cooperation with Gideon Brothers is seen as an opportunity to introduce smart automation into our business and we reiterate the success we've achieved in Croatia on the international scene," said Gadže.

Matija Kopić, co-founder and CEO of Gideon Brothers, revealed that along with Milan Račić, his new startup, Gideon Brothers has three other co-founders who have helped significantly in the development of the first Croatian industrial robot. One of those individuals is Josip Cesić, he is one of the authors of the most successful algorithms in the world for simultaneous localisation and mapping, which is based on stereo cameras.

Then comes Edin Kočo, who led in the design and production of robo-warehouse, and had previously designed and manufactured robots for inspection in nuclear power plants. Last but by no means least, the fifth co-founder of Gideon Brothers is Kruno Stražanac, who is a big data expert, extremely knowledgeable in data analysis and technical support.

Kopić stated that he is lucky to live in such an incredible age, because Gideon Brothers has managed to accomplish something that many of the previous theoreticians of robotics could have only dreamed of.

He points out that this success is a result of very strong support from both Croatian and foreign investors. "The support of our investors and clients confirms our conviction that autonomous robots equipped with visual perception will deeply and positively change our society," added Kopić.

In just two years, the Croatian startup Gideon Brothers underwent two rounds of investment. It received 16.3 million kuna or 2.2 million euro in investment from 21 investors.

Make sure to follow our dedicated Made in Croatia and business pages for more information on robotics in Croatia and much more.

 

Click here for the original article by Bernard Ivezic for Poslovni Dnevnik

Monday, 10 December 2018

Croatian Company Develops Artificial Intelligence for Hotel Guests

One Croatian company has developed a type of artificial intelligence purely for hotels, and as of next summer, various hotels belonging to the Jadranka Group will have the brand new system made available for their guests from around the world.

''Alexa, what can I do today?'' a guest of the Lošinj Bellevue Hotel will soon be able to ask.

''You can go and visit Susak and Ilovik, or visit the wellness pool. In the evening, I'd suggest going to the Matsunoki Japanese restaurant,'' Alexa, Amazon's virtual assistant, will respond.

As Novac.hr/Filip Pavic writes on the 10th of December, 2018, no, we're not talking about some dreamlike hotel in the year 2048, but about 2019's tourist season in the hotel accommodation belonging to the Jadranka Group. This Croatian hotel company, will become the first in Croatia, and in the world, to introduce a special type of ''hotel artificial intelligence'' to its accommodation facilities.

"We've created a system of artificial intelligence that will give to each guest, in a given moment, taking into account the enormous amount of data, a prediction of the type of content and services the hotel has that they might be interested in," explained Marko Lukičić, a member of the board of directors of the Jadranka Group, who is also the co-founder of Acquaint, the Croatian company which thought of and then designed this artificial intelligence system, which is solely for hotels.

As has been said, the whole system, which is currently called Amenity Recommender, is fully functional and is currently being tested in five hotels belonging to the Jadranka Group on the island of Lošinj - The Bellevue and the Alhambra, which are both five-star facilities, as well as in Aurora, Vespera, and Punta, each with a four-star rating.

''The plan is to equip the rooms of Hotel Bellevue with Amazon Echo, which are speakers through which the guest can talk to Alexa the virtual assistant, before the next tourist season. She will ''lend'' her voice to our artificial intelligence system. We will also connect the system with the hotel TV system and customer relationship management system (CRM) to be able to communicate with the guest across all channels,'' Lukičić added.

Namely, this hotel artificial intelligence system will be a kind of virtual consultant and tourist guide that will try to predict what the guest wants to see and experience while on holiday. Excursions, restaurants, museums, wellness, diving courses, massages, yacht rentals, etc.

The ''virtual receptionist" will choose three specific recommendations for the guest among the 750 available services, taking into account enormous amounts of available data. Among other things, the age, sex, country of origin of the guest, as well as who they're with on holiday, the room in which they're staying and the which period in which it is will be taken into account to provide the best recommendations. As extensive as that is, that is not all. The system will also ''keep its eye'' on the weather and change the offers recommended should the weather take an unfavourable turn.

''It's important to emphasise the fact that this artificial intelligence deals with anonymous guest information and based on this data, it is not possible to detect the guests' identity. It doesn't accumulate data, it simply processes it,'' explained Lukičić, noting that the rules of the Personal Data Protection Act (GDPR) will be absolutely respected.

The constant advancing of technology has been bringing in the question of just what will happen to staff, human staff, that is, who used to be the ones to perform such tasks. Will they be replaced by artificial intelligence? No, says Lukičić, stating that the intentions behind this innovative invention were never to remove the need for a human touch in this industry.

''The receptionists will have a key supervisory role, and they'll also get acquainted with artificial intelligence with courses. Provided with information, they will be able to offer a more quality service and create an even better experience for the guest,'' added Lukičić.

Otherwise, the whole story came to light just two years ago. Back then, Lukičić, as the responsible person for the digital transformation of the Jadranka Group, was given the opportunity to test his ​​artificial intelligence idea which has been ''seducing'' him continually from back in his student days spent at FER.

"When we began with that whole story, of course, we tried to find an already finished solution. We contacted companies which already have their own artificial intelligence platforms, such as Google, IBM and Microsoft, but we've come to the conclusion that they could only offer us generic intelligence or a chatbot. We needed something much more precise,'' recalls Lukičić. His list of criteria for the hotel system of artificial intelligence was highly specific and seemingly impossible to reach at the time.

"We were looking for a company that had profound expertise in hotel industry, expertise in machine learning and data knowledge, as well as programming, to make us a special type artificial intelligence. As expected, we couldn't find such a company,''

Lukičić realised that in order to truly get their hands on what they needed, they had to set up their own company that would bring all these skills together properly. In other words, start completely from scratch. He readily admitted that after this Croatian company was created, the actual process of developing artificial intelligence was a painstaking one.

''A lot of statistics, linear algebra, learning, programming, studying, and discussion were needed to eventually have a very small number of code lines. And, there you go, the artificial intelligence was born. But with the science-fantasy part of the story, there was also a business story,''

According to Lukičić, besides its futuristic possibilities, artificial intelligence also provides the possibility of raising hotel revenues in a very specific way. Namely, artificial intelligence of this kind requires very little investment and relies solely on customer spending. There is no need to expand accommodation capacities or raise prices, which are the traditional ways in which to raise revenue. The goal, he says, is to increase the overall value of the facilities through subtle content delivery, without aggressive and offputting sales pitches and a bombardment of offers.

''According to our tests, in regard to a four-star luxury hotel on the island of Lošinj, which has very low maintenance costs, the profits after the introduction of artificial intelligence doubled,'' stated Lukičić, noting that the benefit will depend on a number of factors, such as the type of hotel, its existing maintenance costs, as well as any planned investments for the future.

As far as further plans are concerned, Lukičić hopes that by the end of the year, Acquaint, which currently has only six employees, could sign a global agreement to introduce their system to some European and Asian hotels.

''We're already working with Oracle engineers to create a certified interface for our product. That would make Oracle one of our sales channels,'' says Lukičić, referring to the Croatian company's collaboration with a multinational IT company. They are also in contact with Amazon, the largest e-merchant whose voice technology is being used already, but for any type of official co-operation, he will have to open an office across the pond in the United States.

"All this gives us enough arguments to say that what we do makes sense even though we're currently a research and development company and we aren't making any revenue," Lukičić concluded.

Make sure to stay up to date with more information on Croatian companies, products and services, as well as the business and investment climate in Croatia by following our dedicated Made in Croatia and business pages.

 

Click here for the original article by Filip Pavic for Novac.hr/Jutarnji

Tuesday, 4 December 2018

Croatian Aviation Student Team Best in World at Aircraft Projection

An absolutely incredible achievement for the Croatian aviation student team of the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering and Shipbuilding has been secured with their outstanding success at an international competition organised by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronauts (AIAA).

Croatia may not have many inhabitants, and with the number worryingly dwindling day by day with the mass emigration of the population to pastures new, there might not be a lot to smile about for many. Despite this, this small country with a population numbering just a few million continues to breed some of the most impressive and talented people across all fields, from sport to technology and innovation, to cuisine.

As Vijesti.rtl.hr writes on the 3rd of December, 2018, the ten-member team came first place in the category of team projects by graduate students. Srednja.hr reports that their next goal is to present the project to all interested parties in order to popularise the faculty and that particular field of study.

The Croatian aviation student team consists of Fran Delić, Tibor Gašparac, Antonio Golub, Antonio Jurišić, Antonio Klasnić, Ivan Kovačević, Matea Lišnić, Kristijan Ruklić, and Vjekoslav Sraga, and all of them participated in the construction of the best project under the watchful eyes of their mentors dr. sc. Milan Vrdoljak and doc. dr. sc. Pero Prebeg.

Within the conceptual design of the aircraft, they formed their main parts such as the wings, the body, the chassis and drive, in accordance with the goals they set themselves as well as the requirements of the MIL standard and the project task.

Their impressive victory is a huge success in the global context, as the competition is announced by the largest aviation organisation with more than 80,000 members and which publishes dozens of professional aviation magazines. From the Croatian perspective, the team's success is an even greater one.

Except for the aforementioned Croatian aviation student team, only two other teams from Europe won at this competition - and they were teams from the prestigious universities of TU Delft and the Polytechnique University of Milan in Italy.

Make sure to stay up to date with our dedicated lifestyle and Made in Croatia pages for much more.

Wednesday, 5 September 2018

Croatian Innovators Win 12 Medals in Canada

The exhibition was held in Toronto, Canada.

Thursday, 23 August 2018

Šibenik Breakwaters Used for Cruisers in Quebec

A touch of Dalmatia in Quebec.

Thursday, 16 August 2018

Zagreb-Made System to Prevent Bike Theft Among Central European Startup Elite

The Zagreb startup has created a so-called parking capsule that locks the bike and protects all of its main parts.

Friday, 13 July 2018

Croatian Company Viking Obtains 2 Million Kuna From EU

Good news for further development with the welcome help of European Union funds.

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