10 Years of Research on Thinking Technology

Bielefeld University’s Cluster of Excellence CITEC celebrates anniversary

For more than a decade, researchers at Bielefeld University’s Cluster of Excellence CITEC have been working to build better bridges between humans and technology. At its anniversary celebration on Friday, 9 March, the institute presented what it had achieved since its founding. CITEC is the only Cluster of Excellence in Germany with a focus in robotics. To date, more than 150 doctoral researchers have earned their degree at the Cluster. CITEC alumni are active in research institutions and businesses around the world. CITEC is also known for its technical innovations, including the “emotional” robot Flobi, the virtual training environment ICSpace, and a caring apartment. North Rhine-Westphalia’s Minister of Culture and Science, Isabel Pfeiffer-Poensgen, also took part in the anniversary festivities.

Celebrating 10 years of CITEC (from left): CITEC Coordinator Prof. Dr. Helge Ritter with Nao the robot, Managing Director Anita Adamczyk, Deputy Coordinator Prof. Dr.-Ing. Britta Wrede, Rektor Prof. Dr.-Ing. Gerhard Sagerer, and Minister of Culture and Science of North Rhine-Westphalia Isabel Pfeiffer-Poensgen. Photo: CITEC/Bielefeld University “Machines are becoming ever-more intelligent and can make work and daily life easier in many different ways. In this context, artificial intelligent should not be understood as competition for humans. We need technical systems that adapt to the human. And this is exactly where CITEC’s research comes in. For the past ten years, researchers have been working on technologies that adapt to the needs of the human user and provide support to them where appropriate,” said Isabel Pfeiffer-Poensgen, Minister of Culture and Science of the federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia. She was one of the speakers at the anniversary celebration.

“CITEC has become a global player in scientific research,” said Prof. Dr.-Ing. Gerhard Sagerer, Rektor of Bielefeld University. “In the past ten years, the Cluster of Excellence has developed expertise and excellence in research in the area of cognitive interaction technology, pushing beyond the boundaries of the individual disciplines. This is exceptional –both in Germany and the world.”

New Area of Research Founded  
Neuroinformatics expert Prof. Dr. Helge Ritter has served as CITEC Coordinator since its founding. “We established cognitive interaction technology as an area of research, and created for it a strong network of partners from both research and practical application.” The goal of CITEC research is to make interaction with technical systems easier, following the motto that intelligent technology has to be based on the human.

“To further strengthen our research environment, we have contributed to the appointment of new professors at Bielefeld University during the past years. And we have promoted the advancement of promising early career researchers,” says Helge Ritter. “To date, more than 150 doctoral researchers from all around the world have completed their dissertations in the context of CITEC. Many postdoctoral researchers have laid the foundation for their future careers in Bielefeld.”

Milestone: The CITEC Building
One important milestone for CITEC researchers was the construction of their own research building. “It provides us with an infrastructure custom-tailored to the needs of our research, including the Central Labs, which put technology and methods into the hands of all CITEC members.” In 2013, the researchers, along with their robots and avatars, moved into the research building on North Campus.

The Cluster of Excellence Cognitive Interaction Technology (CITEC) at Bielefeld University is one of 43 clusters of excellence in Germany, and the only cluster specializing in robotics. CITEC works to make technical systems easy and intuitive to operate. Its interdisciplinary approach combines research in cognition and technology. Since 2007, CITEC has been funded as part of the Excellence Initiative of the federal and state governments of Germany. Some 250 researchers conduct research at the Cluster. The Cluster of Excellence CITEC was established on 2 November 2007, and was officially opened on 28 May 2008.

More information is available online at:
Website of the Cluster of Excellence’s anniversary celebration: https://10.cit-ec.de