Universität Bonn

Institute of Computer Science

19. June 2024

New Robotics Institute Germany founded with the participation of Prof. Dr. Sven Behnke and Prof. Dr. Maren Bennewitz New Robotics Institute Germany founded with the participation of Prof. Dr. Sven Behnke & Prof. Dr. Maren Bennewitz

Robotics Institute Germany presented:
Robotics Institute Germany presented: - (left to right) Prof. Angela Schoellig (TUM), Federal Research Minister Bettina Stark-Watzinger and Prof. Tamim Asfour (KIT). © BMBF
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Leading robotics locations in Germany have joined forces to form a consortium in order to establish the new Robotics Institute Germany (RIG). It is set to become the central point of contact for robotics in Germany. At the " KI-basierte Robotik 2024" conference in Berlin, Prof. Angela Schoellig from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) as consortium coordinator and RIG spokesperson Prof. Tamim Asfour from the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) presented the concept for AI-based robotics. The project, funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) with 20 million euros over the next four years, will start on July 1, 2024. The University of Bonn and the Institute of Computer Science are significantly involved.

The Technical University of Munich (TUM) is leading the Robotics Institute Germany (RIG) consortium, which includes ten universities and four non-university research institutions. "I am delighted that together we have managed to establish a robotics network with such strong partners from universities and non-university institutions for this pioneering concept of AI-based robotics," says RIG coordinator Prof. Angela Schoellig from TUM. Strengthening the international visibility of robotics in Germany, targeted talent promotion and the transfer of research results are among the strategic goals of the project.

"Due to its outstanding scientific expertise, the University of Bonn is an important partner in the Robotics Institute Germany," says Prof. Dr. Sven Behnke, who coordinates the Bonn sub-project of the RIG. "There is a long tradition of research here on mobile robots that independently create environment models from sensor data, navigate autonomously, handle objects and interact with people." The five Bonn robotics groups involved in the RIG already cooperate closely in the Center for Robotics.

Within the RIG, the University of Bonn is leading the Benchmarking and Challenges work package, which focuses on the evaluation of robotic systems. It will develop benchmarks for environmental perception and take part in competitions for humanoid soccer robots and household robots. In the field of science and technology of AI-based robotics, the Bonn researchers want to develop a science cluster for semantic 3D environment modeling and an application cluster on the topic of agricultural robotics. In the area of infrastructure for AI-based robotics, an agar robotics lab and an open-source humanoid soccer robot are to be developed. In the area of talent development, lecturers at the University of Bonn will be offering a new Master's degree course in "Mobile Robotics" from the winter semester 2025/26 and participating in the RIG doctoral program for the training of highly qualified experts.

The starting conditions are good: roboticists in Germany are among the international leaders in AI-based robotics and have made significant contributions. "However, Germany has so far lacked a strategic approach that bundles the existing potential and uses it synergistically to secure Germany's long-term competitiveness and promote excellence and economic growth," explains RIG spokesperson Prof. Tamim Asfour from the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT). "We will establish the RIG as a nationally recognized and internationally unique institute that shapes cutting-edge research, education and innovation in AI-based robotics and aligns it with Germany's needs."

Federal Research Minister Bettina Stark-Watzinger explains: "Germany is already very well positioned in both AI and robotics research. The moment for AI-based robotics is therefore right now. To this end, we are expanding our new Robotics Institute Germany (RIG) and bringing together the best talents. This will create a decentralized network of top research locations. In this way, we are creating the conditions for integrating the huge potential of AI into robotic systems."

Participating institutions:

In addition to TUM, the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), the University of Bonn, TU Berlin, TU Darmstadt, the University of Bremen, the University of Stuttgart, RWTH Aachen University, TU Dresden, TU Nuremberg, the German Aerospace Center (DLR), the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems, the Fraunhofer Institutes IPA, IOSB and IML as well as the German Center for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI) are involved in the RIG. The universities of Augsburg, Bayreuth, Bielefeld, TU Braunschweig, TU Chemnitz, Erlangen-Nuremberg, Freiburg, Hamburg, Hanover, Heidelberg, TU Ilmenau, Kaiserslautern-Landau, Lübeck, LMU Munich, Tübingen, Baiosphere, Cyber Valley GmbH, Hessisches Zentrum für Künstliche Intelligenz and Deutsches Rettungsrobotik-Zentrum e.V. are associated.

The five participating research groups at the University of Bonn:

A total of more than 1.4 million euros in funding from the BMBF will flow to the University of Bonn until 2028. Five Bonn research groups from the fields of computer science and engineering will contribute to the Robotics Institute Germany (RIG):

Autonomous Intelligent Systems (Prof. Dr. Sven Behnke), Institute of Computer Science: Researchers from the fields of cognitive robotics, computer vision and machine learning have extensive experience in developing complex robotic systems for various applications. The robot competition team NimbRo from the University of Bonn has already won numerous international competitions and challenges (RoboCup Humanoid Soccer, RoboCup@Home, MBZIRC 2017, ANA Avatar XPRIZE).

Humanoid Robots (Prof. Dr. Maren Bennewitz), Institute of Computer Science: The working group researches innovative ways to integrate robots into human environments. To this end, the researchers combine methods of artificial intelligence and robotics for active perception, navigation, manipulation and human-robot interaction. Applications include personalized robotic services, sustainable agriculture and preservation of cultural heritage.

Photogrammetry and robotics (Prof. Dr. Cyrill Stachniss): At the interface of robotics, photogrammetry and computer vision, the interdisciplinary team of engineers, geodesists and natural scientists investigates learning techniques that enhance the performance of mobile robots and autonomous vehicles. The main areas of application are robots in agriculture, autonomous vehicles and service robotics.

Agricultural robotics (Prof. Dr. Chris McCool): The team conducts research in the areas of robotics and computer vision to enable robots and autonomous systems to operate in challenging environments - particularly agriculture. Methods include scalable learning-based approaches, cross-domain work and the use of extensive spatio-temporal information for visual perception.

Geodesy (Prof. Dr.-Ing. Heiner Kuhlmann): The researchers are further developing engineering geodesy, particularly with terrestrial laser scanning (TLS) and mobile mapping systems (MMS). In the field of TLS, the focus is on improving sensors and algorithms. In the case of MMS, research focuses on the quality of derived point clouds, system calibration and integration into higher-level coordinate systems.

Press release (in German): https://www.uni-bonn.de/de/neues/125-2024

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