Ulm Center for Research and Evaluation of Human-Robot Interaction in Public Spaces (ZEN-MRI) begins work

Federal Ministry of Education and Research provides funding of €3.6 million.

In the coming years, service robots/assistant robots will increasingly be able to take over tasks such as cleaning and transport in public spaces, e.g. in pedestrian zones, public squares, train stations and parking garages. As a result, they will not only become part of the urban landscape, but workflows will change. The encounters of uninvolved persons with these robots will thus increase in everyday life. Therefore, in order to perform their task efficiently and safely, the robots must interact not only with their human team partners, but also with these uninvolved passers-by. This includes, for example, communicating their task and coordinating path planning. The Ulm Center for Research and Evaluation of Human-Robot Interaction in Public Spaces (ZEN-MRI) will intensively deal with these and other questions in the coming years. To this end, the University of Ulm, Stuttgart Media University, the Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Engineering IAO, Adlatus Robotics GmbH and the city of Ulm have joined forces in a cooperative project.

Over the next three years, the partners will develop the necessary requirements for robot behavior and interaction strategies (MRI) for the public Ram. The research will focus on interactions with passers-by to optimize robot behavior, but also on embedding the robots in public space. To this end, test areas will be set up in public spaces in downtown Ulm. Among other things, areas are planned in the pedestrian zone and in the Railway station, where encounters will then be possible in people’s everyday lives. Legal and ethical issues will thus become just as important an element of the investigations as design, safety requirements and questions of urban planning specifications.

The project is funded for the period 01.09.2022 – 31.08.2025 by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research with a total of € 3.6 million. The project work was officially launched with the kick-off event held on Thursday, 03.11.2022 at the M25 information center in downtown Ulm.

Full press release.