Semiautonomous robots for decontamination

Live demonstrations on the state of research and development to mark the opening of the ROBDEKON Competence Center in Karlsruhe on June 25

Cleaning up chemically contaminated land and old landfills, sorting waste that is hazardous to health and demolishing nuclear plants are tasks that are often a danger to life and limb for humans. The answer could be robots and autonomous machines which eliminate the presence of humans in danger zones. The “ROBDEKON – robots for the decontamination in environments that are hazardous to humans” Competence Center – sponsored by the Federal Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF) – aims at driving research for the necessary technologies and putting their practical application to the test. The media are cordially invited to the official opening.

Following approval and the start of funding in 2018, the structures of the competence network have been set up which means that external users can now also approach the center’s experts with requests and projects. ROBDEKON will introduce itself at an opening ceremony on June 25, 2019 – and we would like to cordially invite you as representatives of the media:

    – When: Tuesday, June 25 2019, 10:30 am – 3:30 pm

    – Where: ROBDEKON hall at Fraunhofer IOSB, Fraunhoferstraße 1, 76131 Karlsruhe

    – What: Opening/inauguration ceremony for invited guests with welcome speeches, short presentations and live exhibits including photo and interview opportunities

    – Registration: [email protected] (please specify medium, number of persons and if you have any specific interview requests)

    – Press release/press photos: We will publish a press release and initial photos of the opening on June 25 around noon/early afternoon.

Following the welcome speeches, ROBDEKON participants will present the motivation behind and the basic design of the project. From approximately 12:30 pm you can visit an exhibition and demonstrations of impressive exhibits relating to “(semi)autonomous systems for decontamination tasks” and ask the experts. Taking photos and filming are possible of course. This is followed by lectures from 2:00 pm.

In addition to representatives from the Federal Ministry of Research, the Baden-Württemberg Ministry of Economics and Karlsruhe’s mayor Dr. Frank Mentrup, the following experts will be present:

    – Prof. Jürgen Beyerer, ROBDEKON spokesman, director of the Fraunhofer Institute of Optronics, System Technologies and Image Exploitation IOSB and chairholder at KIT,

    – Prof. Frank Kirchner, site manager of the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence in Bremen, head of the DFKI Robotics Innovation Center and chairholder at the University of Bremen,

    – Prof. J. Marius Zöllner, chairman of the FZI Research Center for Information Technology at KIT,

    – as well as five other professors from KIT: Tamin Asfour, Sascha Gentes, Björn Hein, Uwe Hanebeck and Rüdiger Dillmann,

    – and representatives from the other ROBDEKON partners.

About a dozen exhibits are planned including some from KIT:

ARMAR-6: the humanoid robot developed at KIT has cognitive and motor skills which enable it to detect, grasp and visually measure unknown objects and carry out certain operations. For example, it can clean contaminated system parts independently in a washroom and store them in a suitable place.

Augmented reality: using local pollutant concentrations measured from landfill, pollutant distribution is reconstructed and then visualized as a 3D map with AR glasses.

Scanning robot: using a KUKA iiwa lightweight robot with a 2D light section sensor, this exhibit shows how even highly textured system parts can be captured with the right scanning strategy to measure radioactive power plant components, for example.

MAFRO: the climbing robot is conveyed to its place of application on a chain driven transport system. It is equipped with vacuum suction plates and is able to climb walls.

GammaBot: GammaBot features a differential drive. With its high-resolution 3D laser, digital images of the environment can be created with millimeter precision. Through the spatial data, additional information such as thermal images, gamma spectroscopies and ODL measurements are stored in different layers.

Exhibits from other RODDEKON partners include:

Autonomous digger: the “digger without operator” developed at Fraunhofer IOSB perceives its environment through sensors and can, for example, recover hazardous substances or skim contaminated layers of soil. It represents a flexible demonstration and development system for autonomic functions.

SherpaTT: the hybrid walking and driving rover from the DFKI Robotics Innovation Center is an extremely robust and all-terrain mobile platform with a manipulator arm. It can carry out exploration tasks such as collecting soil samples autonomously, and has already been tried and tested in field trials in the Utah desert and Morocco.

Grasping contaminated objects from the conveyor belt: the demonstration system developed at FZI is able to identify and locate contaminated objects on conveyor belts, grasp them with force and place them in sorting containers.


ROBDEKON is one of two competence centers for robotic systems which have been funded as part of the “Research for Civil Security” BMBF program since 2018. It is coordinated by the Fraunhofer Institute of Optronics, System Technologies and Image Exploitation IOSB in Karlsruhe. Partners are Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), the FZI Research Center for Informatics in Karlsruhe, the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI) in Bremen and several small and medium-sized companies. It will run for four years. The aim is, however, for the competence center to exist long-term and to act as an expert and user network for new decontamination technologies using robots.

As “the Research University in the Helmholtz Association”, KIT creates and conveys knowledge for society and the environment. The aim is to make significant contributions to global challenges in the fields of energy, mobility and information. To achieve this, around 9,300 employees are working together on a broad disciplinary basis in natural sciences, engineering, economics, humanities and social sciences. KIT offers research-oriented studies to prepare its 25,100 students for responsible tasks in society, economy and science. Innovations at KIT bridge the gap between knowledge and application for the benefit of society, economic prosperity and the preservation of our natural resources.


Media Contact
Monika Landgraf
[email protected]