The Bremen Institute for Production and Logistics (BIBA) at the University of Bremen is currently developing an interactive robotics system for unloading ship containers (IRiS). Partners in development are BLG Handelslogistik and Schulz Systemtechnik (both from Bremen) as well as image processing specialist Framos from Taufkirchen near Munich, responsible for object recognition. The mobile robots are designed to reduce the physical load on the port workers while increasing the efficiency of loading and unloading operations. The Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure (BMVI) will support the project with 2.2 million euros as part of the innovative port technologies (IHATEC) program.
A key research point is the interaction interfaces between humans and robots. Firstly, collaboration must be possible without risk, which is no trivial task in non-standardized or barely standardized scenarios. Secondly, subsequent corrections should be simple and possible without programming skills. For this reason, Schulz Systemtechnik is developing a digital twin to the port robot designed to enable virtual testing in the early stages; initial prototypes could be launched as early as 2019.