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AI.Society: Robotics and AI applications of the future

Whether production, transport, healthcare, service, household, or even environment: Robotics and artificial intelligence have fundamentally changed our private, professional, and social lives – and will continue to do so. Which areas will see the greatest impact of these innovative technologies? What new applications will we benefit from in the future? AI.Society – exhibition and dialog platform at the same time – presents exciting use cases.

In addition to concrete applications for work environments, healthcare, mobility, and environment, AI.Society also sheds light on ethical issues. Because, like every kind of social transformation, robotics and AI bring about both opportunities and new challenges. This makes it all the more important to carefully shape this transformation process.

Representatives from science, business, politics, and society will jointly develop visions and concrete approaches on how robotics and AI can be used to create a future worth living. A future that will continue to be centered around people – where robotics and AI will be advanced to the benefit of society.

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Review: the digital AI.Society 2021 exhibition

As a part of the digital automatica sprint format, AI.Society 2021 featured around 30 demonstrations from the Technical University of Munich and the Munich Institute of Robotics and Machine Intelligence (MIRMI) at TUM, as well as selected start-ups, which designed their own virtual brand room here. In addition to information on the respective teams, Projects were introduced in 2-minute videos. Visitors could simply contact the researchers and developers via video or voice chat to ask further questions about the project or to exchange ideas about collaboration options.

The live demonstrations

Various Company Sessions took place on June 23 and 24, 2021, as a congenial addition to the digital exhibition in the brand rooms. Live demonstrations lasting 20 minutes each provided fascinating insights into current research and real-life scenarios with regard to the topics 'Future of Work', 'Future of Health' and 'Future of Mobility'.

The AI.Society 2021 focus topics

1. Work

In the past, nothing influenced and changed the field of work more than the development of new machines and production resources. But that has changed now. The research experts at TUM are taking a people-centered approach in their vision of the factory of the future. This is not about the replacement or disenfranchisement of humans by technology, but about strengthening their skills, expanding their craftsmanship/skills and creating a safe working environment.

So, what makes this happen? Solutions that mimic and combine human skills as much as possible. These can then be adapted to individual requirements thanks to robotics and AI, and reliably enable the optimization of production processes. Like the smart Luminovo software, which digitizes manual processes both within electronics manufacturers and between product developers and electronics manufacturers to simplify development and procurement processes across the hardware value chain. Or solutions from Roboception, which rely on 3D perception and applied software/AI to enable any robotic system to sense and analyze its environment in real-time before planning and executing actions – such as grasping and placing objects. The vision: a production line enabling production to flexibly respond to changes through close cooperation between humans and robots.

Whether simple and safe human-robot interaction, 3D navigation, item picking, highly sensitive sensor technology or tactile gripping: AI.Society showed initiatives addressing the diverse key components and approaches in industrial automation, logistics, assembly, and manufacturing processes – and provided lots of lasting inspiration.

2. Health

From the digital hospital to individualized diagnostics: Doctors, engineers and computer scientists use robotics to develop technical solutions aimed at precision and repeatability, bridging the gap between man and machine. To that end, robots formerly used in the industry are being adapted and enhanced to meet the more demanding challenges of the health sector. Computer vision, machine learning, virtual reality and augmented reality, among other things, will take telemedicine to a whole new level. Some examples:

The Geriatronics Lighthouse Initiative in Garmisch-Partenkirchen develops adaptive humanoid service robots to enable the elderly to live independently. 3D navigation, environmental monitoring and object manipulation are used to create reliable patient monitoring tools that provide greater safety for the elderly and support caregivers. The goals of geriatronics: to preserve mobility and interpersonal interaction in old age as well as to extend independent living through technical assistance systems with intuitive operation.

The Magic Mirror by TUM's Chair of Computer Aided Medical Procedures & Augmented Reality (CAMPAR) uses image-based machine learning, computer vision, and augmented reality to develop and display a human digital twin. By making the internal anatomical structures of the human body 'comprehensible', it expands our understanding of human physiology and thus helps to significantly improve diagnostics.

MR's Micron precision robot increases precision in the operating room and ensures 'jitter-free' execution of ophthalmic surgeries, while CAMPAR's robotic sonographer provides smart, accurate, repeatable and radiation-free diagnostics inside and outside of hospitals.

3. Mobility

Mobility moves us all – quite literally – including robotics and AI.Society. Sustainable and flexible mobility solutions will shape our future. Autonomous vehicles, interconnected mobility, flying robots, dynamics modeling, and collision detection are essential components of mobile robotics. In addition, AI makes it easier for us to access various forms of mobility.

AI.Society 2021 offered visitors an opportunity to experience different aspects of mobility: from remote drone control to humanoid robots. This covered different everyday situations such as analyzing interpersonal interactions and transferring the results into interactive robotic motion sequences, with simultaneous application of smart sensor technology for recognition and real-time location determination. Declared goal: the coexistence and cooperation of humans and autonomous robots all the way to transferring human anthropometry and physiology to walking humanoid robots.

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