The German Aerospace Center (DLR) is the national aeronautics and space research Centre of Germany, as well as its space agency. DLR conduct research and development activities in the fields of aeronautics, space, energy, transport, security, and digitalization. The Institute of Robotics and Mechatronics (RM) is the central part of the Robotics and Mechatronics Center (RMC), a cluster and competence center for research and development in the areas of robotics, mechatronics, control and optical systems. The core competence of RMC is the design and realization of complex intelligent mechatronic concepts and systems, human-machine interfaces, as well as interdisciplinary virtual design, and computer-aided optimization and simulation. In the robotics community, the center is one of the biggest and most acknowledged institutes worldwide. Examples of the pioneering work are multiple lightweight arms, multi-fingered hands, and high performance control algorithms. These technologies have been successfully transferred to industrial partners such as KUKA, Brainlab, Schunk, and Medtronic, and have also been used as seed for multiple start-ups, including Robodrive, Sensodrive, Roboception, and Kinetik Space. For these activities, the RMC has received the EURON/ERF (European Robotics Forum) Technology Transfer Award in multiple occasions. The institute coordinates and contributes to several international projects funded by the European Comission, as well as collaboration projects and missions with other space actors such as ESA, JPL, and JAXA.
DLR-RM has a long tradition in the development of hardware and software for robotic manipulation. The most famous example is the lightweight robot arm, developed at the institute and licensed to KUKA for commercialization. Other examples include the surgical system MIRO, licensed to Medtronic, and technology licensed to the spin-offs Agile Robots and Kastanienbaum/Franka Emika. End effectors have as well being a strong development point at RM, with robotic hands licensed to Schunk and to the spin-off Wessling Robotics. In terms of software, RM is famous for the development of compliant control for torque-controlled robots, which has enabled the development of the booming market of cobots. In the last decade, RM has taken part of several projects related to robotic manipulation, including DEXMART, THE, GERT, SMErobotics, and SOMA. In the SOMA project, RM developed the CLASH hand, together with planning strategies to exploit environmental constraints while performing manipulation actions. In INTELLIMAN, RM will continue the development of a novel gripper, as well as the planning layer required to improve capabilities of manipulation in logistic and household scenarios.
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