KIT Department of Informatics

KIT receives real laboratory "Robotic Artificial Intelligence"

KIT receives real laboratory "Robotic Artificial Intelligence"

Making artificial intelligence tangible through humanoid robots: Bidirectional exchange between society and research in focus

Artificial intelligence, or AI for short, is the subject of many fantasies, films and stories - but also reality. The superhuman power of AI is evident in games as well as in image and speech processing, autonomous driving, digital language assistants and chat bots. A particular fascination in research is based on humanoid, i.e. human-like robots, which give abstract methods of AI a physically tangible form. The goal of the real laboratory "Robotic Artificial Intelligence" at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) is to make AI tangible for humans in a variety of experiments and in different real environments - from daycare centers and schools to museums, libraries, and hospitals. The Baden-Württemberg Ministry of Science and Research is funding the real laboratory with 800,000 euros.

"Real laboratories open up the possibility of science and society working closely together and responding to each other when working on a question. This is particularly important in such a central future field as artificial intelligence. I am therefore very pleased that the participants in the KIT's real laboratory 'Robotic Artificial Intelligence' have made it their business to make AI perceptible to humans by means of humanoid robots and to jointly investigate both opportunities and possible risks," says Science Minister Theresia Bauer. "AI and robotics for industry, care and also education will change our everyday life. At KIT, we are working on making the opportunities of this development optimally usable for our society," says Professor Holger Hanselka, President of KIT. For example, the personnel in the social professions, which is in great demand especially in the current corona crisis, could be relieved. "At the same time, we want to consistently counteract the potential risks of AI and AI robots," continues Hanselka.

"Participatory, dialogue- and user-oriented research is of central importance for us at KIT in order to identify needs and socially beneficial applications of the technology," emphasizes Professor Oliver Kraft, KIT Vice President for Research. "Therefore, not only scientific cooperation across disciplinary borders is important to us, but also the exchange and interaction with the whole of society."

"The exchange of knowledge and experience goes both ways in a real laboratory: Research and application come together at eye level so that we can then develop exactly the technologies that people really need and want," says Professor Tamim Asfour from the Institute of Anthropomatics and Robotics of the KIT and coordinator of the real laboratory. The goal is to develop concrete applications of robotic AI in practice together with civil society actors and to investigate their chances but also their risks. "The aim is to make the potentials of robotic AI directly experienceable and ascertainable for our society, but also to demystify them.

Robots as helpers in education and social areas

In the real lab, humans can experience AI, embodied by humanoid robots, in several scenarios. In a new building of the Municipal Hospital, robots of the next generation of humanoid ARMAR robots at KIT will support hospital staff and, for example, guide patients from the reception area to the respective wards. In the KinderUniversum, the KIT daycare center, robots will support children in learning foreign languages, for example, and in the municipal library they can read to children. At the Goethe Gymnasium in Karlsruhe and other Karlsruhe schools, children learn basic concepts of computer science and AI in a playful way. At KIT, students from all over the world have robots at their disposal to carry out experiments with them from a distance. Finally, at the ZKM - Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe, humanoid robots will interact with visitors.

Depending on the development of the corona pandemic, the first robots are expected to be in use in the course of the coming year.