The non-profit association “German Rescue Robotics Center e.V.” (“Deutsches Rettungsrobotik-Zentrum e.V.”, DRZ e.V.) was founded in 2018 by the partners of the cooperative project. It aims to promote the development of intelligent robotic systems, that support the rescue and protection of humans as well as property. It is focused on research and development in the field of rescue robotics, vocational training in this field, rescue from life-threatening danger, fire protection, occupational safety, civil protection and accident prevention. The association also promotes the networking of the task forces, users, companies and research institutions active in these fields and is open to membership for them.
The DRZ e.V. is the supporting organization for the competence center under development. For this purpose, a laboratory is being setup with an attached test site, in which scientists, companies and users will initially be able to jointly research the best possible solutions for supporting rescue robots and test them in realistic test environments as part of the joint project. In addition, test and inspection criteria are developed to enable a later standardization and certification of different robotic systems.
Over the next few years, a competence center will be set up in Dortmund, where mobile robotic systems for civil emergency response will be researched and developed in a so-called “Living Lab”. A special feature of the laboratory is the connected, indoor and outdoor test areas, where the systems can be tested together with future users on their suitability for use in various scenarios.
The motivation for the competence center is the increased complexity of the challenges that authorities and organizations with security tasks (BOS) are confronted with on a daily basis, in order to accomplish their tasks. Despite good training, mature tactical concepts and reliable protective equipment, every year a large number of emergency personnel worldwide is injured or killed during their work. As technical development progresses, however, it is foreseeable that intelligent mobile robotic systems will increasingly be able to take over tasks in the future in order to make operations more effective and safer for emergency forces, people in danger and other protective items.
The cooperative project A-DRZ is initially supported by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) for 4 years within the framework of the funding announcement “Zivile Sicherheit – Innovationslabore/Kompetenzzentren für Robotersysteme in menschenfeindlichen Umgebungen“ (Förderkennzeichen 13N14852 bis 13N14863), within the framework of the program “Forschung für die zivile Sicherheit 2012 bis 2017” of the German Federal Government. The project partners consist of an an interdisciplinary and renowned network of end users, industry, universities and research institutions. The long-term goal is to establish a research-oriented competence center beyond this funding phase that will promote innovative developments with its partners. In this way, increasingly powerful intelligent robotics technology for rescue forces is supposed to become available on the market.
The requirements from field practice will shape the rescue robotics technologies to be developed. For this reason, the research network is coordinated by the Institute for Fire Department and Rescue Technology of the Dortmund Fire Department. The special feature of the project lies in its structure and sustainable orientation: By the association German Rescue Robotics Center DRZ e.V., which was already founded by the project partners as a carrier organization, the competence center is supposed to be set up, operated and, after a possible further funding phase, continued and expanded in the long term.