Our industry cooperations: Joint Labs

Built in collaboration with world-leading industrial partners and research centres, the Joint Labs are Open Innovation initiatives created with the aim of developing and improving Leonardo's technology and product portfolio.

The laboratories are located near Leonardo's main industrial sites. They will play in a key role in facilitating technology transfer and consolidating collaboration with local institutions to maximise benefits for the Region involved. The Joint Labs also act as a catalyst for local entities, allowing Leonardo to centralise development of enabling technologies to fully exploit the innovation opportunity.

In this section we present the ongoing collaborations with external partners in the overall framework of Leonardo Labs.

 

The Leonardo-Solvay Joint Lab

 

The Joint Lab with Solvay is headquartered at the Leonardo Lab in Grottaglie (Taranto) which is dedicated to aerostructures. The Joint Lab is supported by Solvay MSAC – the Material Science Application Centre in Brussels. 
The collaboration with Solvay is a significant step forward and will help to drive competitiveness thorugh research into advanced materials. It will allow Leonardo to enhance the performance and safety of products, and expand their potential, with direct effects on environmental impact and resource consumption. In turn, this will give added impetus to a circular and efficient production system. 

The Leonardo-Solvay Joint Lab will focus on engineered materials with a thermoplastic matrix and, in particular, the field of welding and automatic lamination (in situ consolidation) of complex and large aerospace structures. The aim is to improve the properties of products and extend their lifecycle.

Thermoplastic composites offer unique advantages, including weight reduction, for more fuel-efficient aircraft. In addition, the new materials do not require the use of an autoclave during manufacturing to consolidate parts, which enhances production line efficiency. The agreement is the starting point for further collaboration, both in the short and medium term, on applications in the aerospace sector and beyond.

 

The Leonardo-Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia (IIT) Joint Labs

 

The collaboration between Leonardo and Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia (IIT) covers research activities in three areas crucial for the future development of security applications in the space and emergency sector: high-performance computing (supercomputing), robotic systems for industrial use integrated with artificial intelligence and the reconfiguration of these systems for unstructured environments.

The three Leonardo-IIT Joint Labs, based in Genoa, will be the national reference point (and potentially international) for the development of the digitalization of industrial processes and technologies and will enable to better exploration for the potential of digital design and virtual environments. Robotics, monitoring, control and predictivity are the most advanced frontiers of digitalization to which Leonardo-IIT Joint Labs are focusing. Digital design saves 80% of time in the development phase, reduces costs and through digital design consumption can decrease by up to 25%.

High-performance computing (supercomputing), a key component of digitization, is the basis of Leonardo’s concept for integrated innovation. One of the most important research laboratories at international level is born from the common factor of the skills on the HPC (High Performance Computing) of IIT and Leonardo, and possible due to the capabilities of Leonardo’s davinci-1 supercomputer and IIT’s Franklin supercomputer. This will boost the entire HPC community of the country and the national digitization process.

The development of robotic systems integrated with artificial intelligence for industrial applications represents a further area of collaboration. With the adoption of hybrid solutions for the interaction between humans and robotic systems, it will be possible to develop the digitalization of industrial production areas with safer environments, programmed and predictive management of logistics, better quality of production and products, and enhanced after-sales, thanks to the integration of advanced monitoring systems for scheduled maintenance and predictive alert indicators. 

Another exploration sector of the Leonardo-IIT Joint lab is the research and development of robotic technologies to be used outside industrial contexts to operate in unstructured environments. Such environments provide for the adaptability of robotic systems in unforeseen situations, in critical environmental conditions and provide the ability to act independently. The applications mainly concern Space – with the use of robotic systems on planets and satellites where instruments are subject to radiation, marked temperature variations and particularly difficult mobility conditions – and emergency situations in the event of natural disasters.