The non-profit association “Deutsches Rettungsrobotik-Zentrum e.V.”(DRZ e.V.) was founded in 2018 by the joint project partners. It aims to promote the development of robotic systems, that are designed to 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 offers a membership for them.
The DRZ e.V. is the supporting organization for the competence center, that is currently being set up. For this purpose, a laboratory is built 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 make a later standardization and certification of different robotic systems possible.
Over the next few years, a competence center will be built on the former Phönix-West industrial site in Dortmund, where mobile robot systems for civil emergency response will be researched and developed in a so-called “Living Lab”. A special feature of the laboratory are the connected, indoor and outdoor test areas, where the systems can be tested together with future users on their suitability for the use in various scenarios.
The starting point 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 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 goods.
This four-year project is supported by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) 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 and is funded by the interdisciplinary and renowned network consisting of users, industry, universities and research institutions. The long-term goal is to go beyond this initiation or funding phase and establish a scientifically-oriented competence center that will promote innovative developments with its partners. In this way, increasingly powerful robotics technology for rescue forces is supposed to become available on the market.
The requirements from practical applications will shape the rescue robots, that need 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 “Deutsches Rettungsrobotik-Zentrum e.V.”, which was already founded by the project partners as a sponsoring organization, the competence center is supposed to be set up, operated and, after a possible further funding phase, expanded in the long term.