For the first time, emergency services, researchers and companies in Germany are coming together to jointly develop autonomous rescue robots. The ultimate aim is to form a response unit for deployment in Germany and beyond. This exciting work centers on a former steelworks in Dortmund, where the German Rescue Robotics Center (DRZ) is being built as a state-of-the-art competence center for the research and development of mobile robotic systems to support the emergency services. The German Fire Protection Association (vfdb) is playing a key role in these efforts, alongside other partners from the emergency services, the research sector and industry. Initially planned to run for four years, the project is being supported by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) as part of its program entitled "Civil protection - innovation labs/competence centers for robotic systems in inhospitable environments".

One of the main drivers behind the project is the ever-growing range of challenges that the emergency services face. As the BMBF has pointed out, in spite of excellent training, sophisticated tactics and reliable safety equipment, numerous emergency responders all round the world are injured or killed in the line of duty every year. Given the huge technological advances that are being achieved, it is hoped that mobile robotic systems will be able to take over a growing number of tasks moving forward. The aim is to make the entire emergency response system more effective and safer for the responders, the people in danger and the property at risk. According to vfdb President Dirk Aschenbrenner, the association will be contributing comprehensive user expertise to the project: "Our members have wide-ranging specialist know-how. They understand the problems and challenges and already have extensive experience with progressive technologies. This makes them ideally placed to trial the robotic systems at the test sites of the DRZ."

German Fire Protection Association (vfdb) (48028 M√ľnster, Germany)