Autonomous robot systems for hostile environments

© Fraunhofer IOSB

Robot systems support humans in many different ways and it is impossible to imagine our everyday life without them. The current applications range from classic robot systems, which take over monotonous work tasks in industrial production, to mobile robot systems for reconnaissance in disaster areas.

The demands on the functionality of novel robot systems are significantly higher compared to conventional industrial robots. Future robot systems are expected to operate and take over complex work tasks, especially in inhuman working environments.

The use of robot systems in hostile environments requires a high degree of autonomy of these systems, i.e. the work tasks should be solved as independently as possible and without human intervention. Fraunhofer IOSB has been working for several years on the development of practical robot systems for hostile environments. The main focus is on the realization of complex autonomy functions, which enable the realization of work tasks in hostile environments.

The work at Fraunhofer IOSB concentrates on three main topics:

  • Autonomous mobile robots: Autonomous transport systems and sensor carriers enable automatic material transport in unstructured environments and the exploration of unknown and potentially dangerous areas. For this purpose, Fraunhofer IOSB has developed powerful solutions for autonomous navigation and mapping.
  • Autonomous mobile manipulators: Mobile robot systems equipped with manipulators can perform handling tasks independently and precisely in areas inaccessible to humans. The components developed at Fraunhofer IOSB relieve the user by automatic planning and execution of the tasks.
  • Autonomous heavy work equipment: Especially in hostile environments, the use of heavy equipment is often necessary. Fraunhofer IOSB develops innovative solutions that enable heavy equipment to operate safely in this demanding environment and to perform the required task autonomously.

To implement the various autonomy functions, Fraunhofer IOSB follows the modular approach of an algorithm toolbox, so that the developed components can be easily transferred to other platforms. This allows to focus on the development of novel algorithms and concepts for the autonomy of mobile robots.


Project partners

Based on the above-mentioned work, Fraunhofer IOSB and its partners have successfully applied for funding under the BMBF's "Research for Civil Security" program: In 2018, the "ROBDEKON - Robots for Decontamination in Hostile Environments" competence center, funded with twelve million euros, was established (see press release dated 25.7.2018 and website ROBDEKON).

The head of the Fraunhofer IOSB, Prof. Dr.-Ing. habil. Jürgen Beyerer, is also involved in the Platform Learning Systems initiated by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research as head of working group 7 "Environments hostile to life".


Department MRD of Fraunhofer IOSB

You want to learn more about our projects in this area? Then please visit the page of our MRD department and inform yourself about further projects.