German-Japanese Robotics Summit

Hannover Messe

Talking dogs, tea-serving humanoids and crawling six-legged creatures - the high-tech country of Japan is also a world leader in the field of "service robots". In Germany, top-level research is also taking place in this field. For the first time, experts from this year's Partner Country at HANNOVER MESSE exchanged views with their German colleagues on future trends in this exciting field of research and culturally discussed differences in the acceptance of robots in everyday life.

The first "German-Japanese Summit on Mobile Robots and Autonomous Systems" on 22 April 2008 was opened by the Japanese "robotics pope" Prof. Minoru Asada from the University of Osaka and Prof. Thomas Christaller from the Fraunhofer Institute for Intelligent Analysis and Information Systems, who together launched the "Robo Cup" years ago. The following presentations showed a variety of possible applications of mobile and autonomous systems.

Prof. Frank Kirchner (German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence DFKI) presented AI-based solutions for space travel, port operations and deep sea work. Dr. Takanori Shibata (AIST Intelligent Systems Research Institute) impressed with the effects of using the PARO "therapy seal" in dementia patients, his colleague Dr. Osamu Matsumoto presented intelligent wheelchairs and innovative locomotion platforms. Martin Hägele from the Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Engineering and Automation explained the concept of the "Care-o-Bot" service robot that can be used in the home.

The use of autonomous field robots in agriculture (keyword: precision farming) was demonstrated by Prof. Arno Ruckelshausen from the Osnabrück University of Applied Sciences. Dr. Hajime Aoyama from Fuji Heavy Industries presented a system for autonomous building cleaning, while Justus Hortig from the Fraunhofer Institute for Factory Operation and Automation presented cleaning systems for hard-to-reach areas such as facades and glass roofs. Dr. Andreas Bley from the German company MetraLabs GmbH presented a "shopping robot" that is already in commercial use: the friendly looking "toomas" independently addresses helpless DIY store visitors and guides them to the desired product.

A continuation of the talks at HANNOVER MESSE 2009 was expressly welcomed by both sides.

Reinhard Karger from DFKI moderated the event, which was organized by ECOS on behalf of Deutsche Messe. Co-organizers were the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI) and on the Japanese side the Institute for Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST). The event was supported by the Japanese foreign trade organization JETRO and sponsored by Japan Airlines.