Robot systems for decontamination in hostile environments

ROBDEKON stands for "Robot systems for decontamination in hostile environments" and is dedicated to research in the field of autonomous or semi-autonomous robot systems. It is coordinated by the Fraunhofer Institute for Optronics, Systems Engineering and Image Analysis IOSB. In addition to the DFKI Robotics Innovation Center, the Karlsruhe and Ilmenau sites of the Fraunhofer IOSB, the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) and the FZI Research Center for Computer Science are involved as research institutions. Industrial partners in the consortium are Götting KG, Kraftanlagen Heidelberg GmbH, ICP Ingenieurgesellschaft Prof. Czurda und Partner mbH and KHG Kerntechnische Hilfsdienst GmbH. ROBDEKON is the first competence centre for robot systems in hostile environments and has been funded by the BMBF as part of the "Research for Civil Security" programme since mid-June 2018. The project will initially run for four years, but the aim is that the competence centre will continue to exist in the long term.

Duration: 15.06.2018 till 14.06.2022
Donee: German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence GmbH
Sponsor: Federal Ministry of Education and Research
Grant number: 13N14675

Fraunhofer IOSB, Karlsruher Institut für Technologie (KIT), FZI Forschungszentrum Informatik, Götting KG, Kraftanlagen Heidelberg GmbH, ICP Ingenieurgesellschaft Prof. Czurda und Partner mbH, KHG Kerntechnische Hilfsdienst GmbH

Application Field: Assistance- and Rehabilitation Systems
Electric Mobility
Logistics, Production and Consumer
SAR- & Security Robotics
Related Projects: TransTerrA
Semi-autonomous cooperative exploration of planetary surfaces including the installation of a logistic chain as well as consideration of the terrestrial applicability of individual aspects (05.2013- 12.2017)
Related Robots: ARTER
Autonomous Rough Terrain Excavator Robot
Related Software: Phobos
An add-on for Blender allowing editing and exporting of robots for the MARS simulation

Project details

SherpaTT and Coyote III during locomotion tests on steep slopes (Photo: Florian Cordes, DFKI)
Telepresence via exoskeleton from the control center with visualization of an environment map and camera images from SherpaTT (Photo: Florian Cordes, DFKI)

The Robotics Innovation Center (RIC) of the DFKI under the direction of Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Frank Kirchner is working on the sub-project "Mobile semi-autonomous robots in dismantling scenarios under human coordination". Robots and humans shouldwork together in deconstruction or decontamination processes of industrial plants and complement each other. The developed technology must allow close cooperation between humans and robots on site, but also in tele-operation scenarios.

RIC will contribute its many years of expertise in the development of mobile autonomous robots especially for use in hostile and extreme environments such as space or the deep sea to the ROBDEKON competence centre. In order to achieve the necessary autonomy and thus the ability of the systems to act, robots used in contaminated areas must meet very similar requirements, especially with regard to their mobility, robustness and learning ability (artificial intelligence).

The DFKI research division has extensive expertise in the areas of machine learning, teleoperation and human-robot collaboration in order to ensure the safe cooperation of humans and robots in hybrid teams in the context of deconstruction and decontamination processes. In ROBDEKON, the Robotics Innovation Center will further develop innovative robot systems that possess the capabilities required for this demanding field of application. In ROBDEKON, the focus is on further developing the existing technological possibilities and integrating robots especially in deconstruction and decontamination processes and demonstrating their use in hybrid teams.


Robdekon: ARTER mobile walking excavator and SherpaTT rover working together to recover a barrel

DFKI has equipped the ARTER walking excavator with new mechanical components, sensors and software so that various control modes can now be implemented. This includes both teleoperation and automation. Easy-to-use interfaces between the robots and humans allow one operator to control both systems. In addition to live images of the surroundings, the control center also receives 3D data from which map material is generated. Once the operator has gained an accurate picture of the position and condition of the barrel to be recovered using the camera in Sherpa's arm, it can be retrieved and brought to a safe location.



From telepresence to autonomous systems
Steffen Planthaber, Daniel Kuehn, Kerstin Rohde, Christian Hartberger
In at Automatisierungstechnik, De Gruyter Wissenschaftsverlag, volume 70, number 10, pages 912-917, Oct/2022.
ARTER: a walking excavator robot for autonomous and remote operations
Ajish Babu, Leon Cedric Danter, Pierre Willenbrock, Sankaranarayanan Natarajan, Daniel Kuehn, Frank Kirchner
In at Automatisierungstechnik, De Gruyter, volume 70, number 10, pages 876-887, 2022.
Autonome Robotersysteme in der Altlastensanierung
Philipp Woock, Ajish Babu
Editors: Volker Franzius, Michael Altenbockum, Thomas. Gerhold
In Handbuch Altlastensanierung und Flächenmanagement, Rehm Verlag, volume 93. Aktualisierung, 3. Aufl., pages 0-0, 2022.


Terrain Adaption Controller for a Walking Excavator Robot using Deep Reinforcement Learning
Ajish Babu, Frank Kirchner
In 2021 20th International Conference on Advanced Robotics (ICAR), (ICAR-2021), 07.12.-10.12.2021, Ljubljana, IEEE Xplore, pages 64-70, Dec/2021.
Unterstützung der Altlastensanierung durch moderne Robotersysteme
Philipp Woock, Daniel Kuehn, Steffen Planthaber
In 21. Karlsruher Altlastenseminar 2021, 18.5.-19.5.2021, Karlsruhe/Virtual, Arbeitskreis Grundwasserschutz e.V., May/2021.


Lightweight and Framework-Independent Communication Library to Support Cross-Plattform Robotic Applications and High-Latency Connections
Leon Cedric Danter, Steffen Planthaber, Alexander Dettmann, Wiebke Brinkmann, Frank Kirchner
In 15th International Symposium on Artificial Intelligence, Robotics and Automation in Space (i-SAIRAS '20), (i-SAIRAS), 19.10.-23.10.2020, Online-Conference, o.A., Oct/2020.
Robotersysteme für die Dekontamination in menschenfeindlichen Umgebungen
Philipp Woock, Nina F. Heide, Daniel Kuehn
In Proceeding at Leipziger Deponiefachtagung 2020, (LDFT-2020), 03.3.-04.3.2020, Leipzig, n.n., 2020.


ROBDEKON: Robotic Systems for Decontamination in Hazardous Environments
Janko Petereit, Jürgen Beyerer, Tamim Asfour, Sascha Gentes, Björn Hein, Uwe D. Hanebeck, Frank Kirchner, Rüdiger Dillmann, Hans Heinrich Götting, Martin Weiser, Michael Gustmann, Thomas Egloffstein
In IEEE International Symposium on Safety, Security, and Rescue Robotics, (SSRR-2019), n.n., 2019.

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