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In robotics, Germany sets a wide range of accents in research and specific applications. According to the “World Robotics Report 2018” of the International Federation of Robotics, there are 322 industrial robots for every 10,000 employees in Germany; only in South Korea and Singapore is the robot rate higher. The German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI) and the German Aerospace Center (DLR) are two globally respected research institutes for robotics. “Germany is at the center of the development of robots that work with people,” says Professor Oussama Khatib, head of the Robotics Lab at Stanford University in America.

Japan, the leader in robotics, has been cooperating with Germany in this field for a long time: The DFKI and the Japanese National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) signed a strategic partnership in 2017, for example to promote "cognitive robotics" - the development of those Robots that learn by interacting with people. Osaka Prefecture University has awarded Andreas Dengel from DFKI the title of “Distinguished Honorary Professor” for his exceptional commitment to joint research and teaching on artificial intelligence. And the architect Professor Thomas Bock from the Technical University of Munich, who once studied industrialization and robotics in construction in Japan, received the Eugen and Ilse Seibold Prize of the German Research Foundation (DFG) in 2017 for his contributions to the German-Japanese scientific exchange. In 2018, Bock discussed his concept of "Robot-Oriented Design" at a DFG lecture series supported by the German Science and Innovation House (DWIH) Tokyo in Osaka, Tokyo and Fukuoka.

Bock does not see the future in houses with robots on the move - he would like to transform the houses into robots himself. He designs automated buildings in which a self-determined life is possible in old age: the walls, the furniture, the floor - they all react to the residents, monitor their health and, for example, bring them into the bathroom or ask for help when someone else falls. "Space travel is a model for me - space stations also react intelligently to the astronauts," says Bock. The rooms he designed are already being implemented in clinics and homes in Geneva, Copenhagen and Eindhoven.

Bock's team also developed a home office that looks like a cockpit and allows older people to participate in working life. You can communicate with it, but also interact by controlling robots remotely. This not only creates individual benefits: People who have left the active phase of their working life can also bring their valuable knowledge to planning and production processes via decentralized “Home Labs”.

Thomas Bock therefore does not see automation as a threat - on the contrary, he warns against turning a blind eye to the trend. "History has shown that those who are actively helping to shape the technological trends benefit," says Bock. "It is not innovations that threaten jobs, but the renunciation of them."