Innovations from Bielefeld at Automatica Trade Fair

Cluster of Excellence CITEC to present intelligent technical systems at industry trade fair for automation in Munich

Mechanical hands that feel like human hands. A robot head that attentively monitors its surroundings. And agile mini robots that maneuver around obstacles. The Cluster of Excellence Cognitive Interaction Technology (CITEC) at Bielefeld University shows how flexibily technical systems can adapt to human living environments in order to provide assistance in both daily life and in the workplace. Research prototypes will be on display from 19–22 June in Munich at Automatica, the largest international industry trade fair for automation (Hall B4, Booth 313).

“At our booth at Automatica, we will show how humans and machines can communicate with one another and work together,” says Professor Dr. Helge Ritter, Coordinator of the Cluster of Excellence CITEC. “Our goal here is to make interaction between humans and machines simple, natural, and intuitive.”

The mechanical hands touch and grasp with the help of additional sensors while the robot head Floka gives direct feedback. The robot hands on display at the Cluster of Excellence’s trade fair booth are modelled on human hands in terms of both shape and agility. The key feature are their integrated tactile sensors, which allow the robot hands not only to grasp and handle objects like human hands, but also to touch and feel. If a glass is slipping away, or if an object is softer than anticipated, this information is transmitted and the robot hands adjust the force of their grip. The knowledge being innovated on this project could contribute in the future to service robots that find their way in new households or work processes all on their own.

The robot head Floka tracks the movements of the robot hands. With various facial expressions, Floka indicates which object the hands’ attention is currently directed at, thus creating a more natural form of interaction for humans.  

Busy little helpers for industry: AMiRo robots navigate around obstacles to reach their goal. Technology that flexibly adapts to the human user and provides assistance as needed – this is the goal being pursued by researchers at the Cluster of Excellence CITEC with the AMiRo (Autonomous Mini Robots) miniature transportation robots. The small, round robots drive along a pre-defined path, delivering work pieces from one station to the next. In contrast to fixed assembly lines, the logistics process can be individually customized with the help of the mini robots. Should the robot encounter an obstacle on its path, it will still find its way to the target destination, while also working in an energy-efficient manner.

The humanoid robot Pepper recognizes the humans in its environment. Pepper, a humanoid robot, also awaits visitors to the Automatica. Pepper is a robot designed to be able to interact with humans as naturally and intuitively as possible. For this reason, researchers are working to make Pepper able to reliably recognize its surroundings and attentively perceive human reactions. The researchers are particularly interested in the interface between human and robot: using a pair of augmented reality eye glasses, guests to the trade fair booth can see the world as Pepper perceives it.

The goal of the Bielefeld researchers is to make technical systems more intuitive and easier to operate, ranging from everyday gadgets to robots. The Cluster of Excellence Cognitive Interaction Technology (CITEC), which has been funded in the framework of the Excellence Initiative by the federal and state governments of Germany, is dedicated to designing cognitive interaction that serves as a bridge between humans and machines. CITEC’s participation in numerous EU research projects, cooperative research ventures with international partners, and partnerships with companies is testament to the competitiveness of Bielefeld innovations in a highly competitive and future-oriented field of research. 

For more information:

Contact person: 
Linda Thomßen, Bielefeld University
Cluster of Excellence Cognitive Interaction Technology (CITEC)
Telephone: 0521 106-12297