The DFKI Robotics Innovation Center (RIC) is a young, dynamically growing field of research at the DFKI with international character. Currently, a staff of around 110 employees from all over the world works here in research and development. Up to 60 student assistants support the individual projects. The Robotics Innovation Center closely cooperates with the Robotics Group at the University of Bremen.
The Robotics Innovation Center team benefits from interdisciplinary cooperation: computer scientists and design engineers meet biologists, mathematicians, computer linguists, industrial designers, electro engineers, physicists, and psychologists in order to jointly develop mobile robot systems. The design accords to latest mechatronic developments and programming based on complex, massive-parallel embedded systems solutions.
In the framework of direct industrial orders or publicly funded joint projects, the Robotics Innovation Center designs and realizes intelligent robots for a variety of fields of application, such as underwater, space, SAR (Search and Rescue) and security robotics, logistics, production and consumer (LPC), cognitive robotics, e-mobility, and rehabilitation robotics. The focus lies on a rapid transfer of results of basic research into real-world applications.
The DFKI Robotics Innovation Center actively supports the compatibility of family and career. An in-house childcare facility is offered for emergencies where DFKI employees’ children may be looked after by qualified kindergarten teachers in terms of a full-day care service.
Under the long-term goal of "Long Term Autonomy", the Robotics Innovation Center (RIC) at the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence is addressing the question of how intelligent behavior of technical systems in complex and dynamic environments can be realized sustainably over long periods of time, months and years.
Within the research department, this vision is pursued in four fundamentally oriented research groups (Advanced AI): "Mechanics & Control", "Interactive Machine Learning", "Quantum Computing" and „Human-Centred Interaction“, which aim to crucially advance robotics research by new scientific findings. Four application-oriented teams (Applied AI): "Maritime Robotics", "Space", "Terrestrial" an "Intelligent Healthcare Systems” use the gained understanding and transfer it into concrete areas of application. They are supported by the backbone teams "Hardware" and "Software", which are responsible for the development, deployment and quality assurance of required hardware and software components.
The team “Mechanics & Control” looks at the fundamentals of mechanics and motion control. In the area of mechanics, the team is interested in problems related to geometry, kinematics and dynamics of complex robotic systems under various constraints. In the area of motion control, the focus is on the one hand on the prediction of movement data. On the other hand, the principle of optimal control is used, and relevant cost functions are derived that provide optimal solutions for complex robot systems.
The Team "Interactive Machine Learning" aims to develop methods and approaches that enable machines to learn from human-machine or machine-to-machine interactions. With these approaches, autonomous robots and synthetic agents which operate in complex environments along humans or other systems over long periods of time will continuously be able to learn. As a result of the interactions these learning processes are based on, robots will be able to not only improve their own behavior but also quickly adjust to different challenges within their team.
The "Human-Centered Interaction" team is concerned with the interaction between humans and robots. The focus is on observing, analyzing, and modeling human behavior to create a better understanding of how humans interact with other humans, machines, and their environment. These insights will be used to make interaction between humans and robots more agile, natural, and safe, and to enable largely autonomous and self-adaptive interaction in multi-robot constellations.
The team "Maritime" aims to explore and develop complex autonomous and intelligent robotic systems that operate under water and in the air. In cooperation with a worldwide network of industrial and scientific partners, the developed solutions can be evaluated in a continuous chain in comprehensive test facilities. Frequent trips in the Atlantic Ocean and in the North and Baltic Sea guarantee an application-related performance assessment.
The application-oriented team "Space" focuses on the system design and the development of AI based control methods for space robots considering the challenges of the specific mission, and different operation concepts for ground control. Applications range from on-orbit-servicing to surface exploration. The focus is also on the transfer of technological developments to terrestrial applications.
Intelligent robots will play a key role in future industrial manufacturing and agricultural production. Relevant robotic capabilities are mobility in production facilities and difficult terrain, as well as manipulation capabilities to grasp, manipulate and transport materials, tools, and crops. The cross-sectional topic of the "Terrestrial Robotics" team is thus "Mobile Manipulation".
To meet the increasing demands in the healthcare sector, robotics and artificial intelligence will play an increasingly important role in the field. The focus of the "Health Care" team is on systems that automatically adapt to the dynamic requirements of rehabilitation and therapy. Examples are to learn from multimodal data to optimize the support of those affected in the various fields of applications.
The "Hardware Backbone" team develops the hardware of the robotic systems together with the application-oriented teams (Applied AI) and at the same time bundles the findings from the various application fields. In terms of expertise, the team is divided into the areas of mechanical design and electronics design.
The goal of the team "Software Backbone" team is to standardize software development to facilitate the handling of research questions despite high integration requirements in robotics. The team faces challenges associated with the growing complexity and continues to develop software components that emerge from research activities in individual projects.