The German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence DFKI was founded in 1988 as a non-profit private research center dedicated to Artificial Intelligence (AI). With branch institutes in Kaiserslautern, Saarbrücken, Berlin, Osnabrück and Bremen, and a staff of more than 850, DFKI today is one of the largest “Centers of Excellence” in AI worldwide.

The DFKI’s Robotics Innovation Center (RIC) ( in Bremen is headed by Prof. Dr. Frank Kirchner. At DFKI RIC, a staff of more than 100 employees from all over the world are working together and combining their strengths in R&D in the area of robotics. Due to the close cooperation with the Robotics Group at the University of Bremen, the Robotics Innovation Center additionally employs more than a 100 student assistants to support the individual projects.

The DFKI Robotics Innovation Center designs and realizes intelligent robots for a variety of fields of application, such as space, sub-sea, SAR (Search and Rescue) and security robotics, logistics, production and consumer (LPC), cognitive robotics, e-mobility, and rehabilitation robotics. The focus lies on a rapid transfer of results of basic research into real-world applications.

The Robotics Innovation Center team benefits from collaboration across multiple scientific domains – computer scientists and design engineers meet biologists, mathematicians, computer linguists, industrial designers, electro engineers, physicists, and psychologists in order to jointly develop mobile robot systems. The design is in line with the latest mechatronic developments and programming based on complex, massive-parallel embedded systems solutions.

Researchers at DFKI RIC developed the Rock (Robot Construction Kit) ( Rock is based on the Orocos Toolchain, whose primary contributor is the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven. Rock is a software framework for the development of robotic systems. The underlying component model is based on the Orocos RTT (Real Time Toolkit). Rock provides all the tools required to set up and run high-performance and reliable robotic systems for wide variety of applications in research and industry. It contains a rich collection of ready to use drivers and modules for use in your own system, and can easily be extended by adding new components.

Furthermore there are two other relevant activities in the development of robotics middleware’s:


Key Facilities and Infrastructures:

Relevant robotic systems:

ARTEMIS: Autonomous 6-wheel space exploration rover demonstrator (
COMPI: Compliant ultra-light robot arm, installed on ARTEMIS (
SHERPA: Demonstrator of expandable rover for planetary exploration, including light-weight robot arm and electro-mechatronic interface (