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Platform for exchanging ideas about robots in everyday life

At a networking meeting of the Transfer Centre for Robots in Everyday Life (RimA) organised by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) in Berlin on 17 June 2024, a new online forum and knowledge platform were presented. This initiative specifically promotes the discussion of robots in everyday life and the development of a community. The RimA consortium aims to increase acceptance and understanding of robotics through workshops, training courses and competitions. The aim is to network research, industry and end users and to make the current state of the art transparent.

At a networking meeting of the Transfer Centre for Robots in Everyday Life (RimA) organised by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) in Berlin on 17 June 2024, an online forum with a corresponding knowledge platform was presented to enable a targeted discussion of robots in everyday life and to promote the formation of a community. The project, which is being funded by the BMBF with around 2.25 million euros over a period of approximately three years, is dedicated to the interaction between humans and robots.

Robots are becoming part of our everyday lives, in the form of vacuum cleaners in our homes, as waiters in restaurants or cleaning robots in train stations. However, most people are not sure whether they are technically or mentally prepared for this. After all, how do you actually interact with a strange robot?

The RimA consortium, consisting of the project partners FZI Research Centre for Information Technology, the University of Bonn, the Free University of Berlin and TÜV SÜD GmbH, aims to build a community that enables the exchange of ideas on precisely this topic. The aim is to promote research and development, but also to make the state of the art transparent. "Ultimately, the RimA community should provide researchers, industry players and end users with a single point of contact for their concerns," says FZI department head and RimA coordinator Tristan Schnell, presenting the project. A range of measures, including workshops and training courses, benchmarking events and laboratories, robotics competitions, an online forum and a knowledge platform, are designed to create a basis for making everyday robotics more accessible. Schnell: "The knowledge platform offers us the opportunity to prepare information on the current state of affairs in a target-group-specific manner and make it publicly available." In addition to information on human-robot interaction and existing robotic products, this also includes aspects such as the possibilities for using open source software, regulatory framework conditions for safety, tools for developing a business model and evaluating comparative criteria.

The forum thus gives all interested parties the opportunity to exchange ideas on topics related to robotics in various fields of application in an anonymous and open-ended manner. However, the focus is also on communication between start-ups, the RA3 competence centres funded by the BMBF and other independent projects. The aim of the transfer centre is to be a sustainable point of contact for the classification and further development of robotic components, applications and services, as well as for the exchange of information about them.

The funding measure is based on the BMBF research programme on human-technology interaction (MTI) "Bringing technology to people" in the field of "Digital Society". The aim of the project is to promote innovative research and development projects in human-technology interaction, to comprehensively test assistance robots in practical application scenarios and thus to contribute to the future transfer of assistance robotics into concrete fields of application.

Future-proof solutions must take into account both individual interaction behaviour and the environment and technological possibilities, and must be measured against the social requirements of "interactive assistance robotics". This should enable the development of flexible and powerful solutions for optimal interaction between humans and robots. In this way, the entire spectrum of human-robot interactions (MRI) is addressed for every everyday situation.

The BMBF has designed the funding priority "Robots for Assistance Functions" as a three-part series of announcements. In the first phase, which has already been completed, the projects focused on interactive basic skills. The second announcement in the series (RA2) was about "interaction strategies". The third BMBF announcement "Robots for Assistance Functions: Interaction in Practice” (RA3) will now fund the centres for assistance robotics in defined application domains for practical testing – the so-called RA3 competence centres rokit, RuhrBots and ZEN-MRI – as well as the RimA transfer centre.