What are the basic skills


From April 1, 2016

1 Purpose of funding, legal basis

The present announcement by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) is based on the BMBF research program on human-technology interaction "Bringing technology to people". The purpose of the announcement is to promote research and development projects in human-technology interaction, which take up the increasing networking of humans and machines and, based on this, develop flexible and powerful solutions for human interaction with robots. The entire spectrum of human-robot interactions, i.e. suitable interaction solutions for every everyday situation, is addressed. Sustainable solutions must take into account the individual interaction behavior and the environment as well as the technological possibilities and bring these into line with the societal requirements for "interactive robotics". The announcement thus also contributes to the implementation of the federal government's new high-tech strategy, in which the research and innovation field “digital economy and society” is named as a priority task for the future.

1.1 Purpose of the grant

The increasing digitization of society and the economy creates new services, products and business models. Within this digital transformation, robotics is a key factor for which German companies have had a high level of competence for decades. With the expansion of robotics to non-industrial applications, the existing technology leadership of German companies is to be maintained and further expanded. Special challenges are emerging in application areas close to people, which include healthcare or the service sector.

Especially against the background of current demographic developments, robot systems should support cognitive skills and physical activities as well as social interaction and thus contribute to strengthening an active and self-determined life. The compatibility of family or care and work and changes in lifestyles are also addressed here. Interactive robots can be helpful in coping with everyday life in a modern society and thus serve to maintain and promote quality of life for all generations of our society. They offer the potential to permanently support health, increase well-being and develop alternatives for demanding activities.

1.1.1 Autonomous robots initiative for assistance functions

With this series of announcements, the BMBF is funding the successive development of interactive robots. The ability to interact is the basic prerequisite for the widespread use of robot systems in human everyday life. This means that in addition to the classic properties of robots such as precision, speed and power in the sense of a successful interaction, essential success factors such as intelligence, adaptability and "sensitivity" will be added in the future. Robots that can be used in practice, capable of interaction, offer considerable innovation potential not only in production contexts, but also in the household, care, communication and service sectors.

Existing robot systems meanwhile offer the basis for addressing interaction-specific research questions relating to human-technology interaction and for investigating them empirically. There is now a considerable need for the research and development of robots as prudent interaction partners who are capable of dialogue, who can interpret human communication as well as human behavior and behave appropriately in everyday situations: In this series of announcements, complex basic skills are to be built on interactive basic skills in the context of further support measures Interaction strategies are implemented. These should ultimately be embedded in the real-world interaction between humans and robots, in which humans and their needs are the focus.

1.1.2 Interactive basic skills

The first funding priority of the Autonomous Robots Initiative for assistance functions is aimed at developing basic interactive skills for autonomous robots. Interactive basic skills enable a robot to carry out simple activities, handouts and agreements with people. In this way, they form the basis for the coordination of location, resources and attention and thus for better interaction between humans and robots. This includes, for example, the handing over of an object (e.g. water glass, key or shopping bag) between humans and robots, situational support (e.g. spatial guidance and guidance) and mutual communication of intentions and instructions (e.g. . through non-verbal drawing of attention). Interactive basic skills thus represent necessary building blocks for complex interaction strategies, for which different basic skills have to be intelligently combined.

1.2 Legal basis

The federal government grants the grants in accordance with these guidelines, §§ 23 and 44 of the Federal Budget Code (BHO) and the related administrative regulations as well as the "Guidelines for grant applications on an expenditure basis (AZA)" and / or the "Guidelines for grant applications on a cost basis (AZK ) "Of the BMBF. There is no legal entitlement to a grant. The granting authority decides according to its due discretion within the framework of the available budget.

Funding according to these guidelines fulfills the requirements of Regulation (EU) No. 651/2014 of the EU Commission of June 17, 2014 on the determination of the compatibility of certain groups of aid with the internal market in application of Articles 107 and 108 of the Treaty on Functioning of the European Union ("General Block Exemption Regulation" - GBER) (OJ L 187 of 26.6.2014, p. 1), and is therefore compatible with the internal market within the meaning of Article 107 paragraph 3 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union and from exempted from the notification requirement under Article 108 paragraph 3 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.

Pursuant to Article 1 number 4 letters a and b GBER, companies that have not complied with a recovery order due to an earlier Commission decision establishing the illegality and incompatibility of aid with the internal market are excluded from funding.

2 Subject of funding

Innovative research and development work is funded which, within the framework of human-technology interaction, aims to further develop and optimize basic interactive skills of robots. The predictable behavior of robots that conforms to expectations is the basic requirement for pleasant and effective interaction in which human concerns must always be taken into account. The research and development projects funded as part of this announcement must ensure the ease of use of technology, trust in technology, reliability and thus also security in the sense of the future task of a "digital economy and society" formulated in the high-tech strategy of the federal government guarantee.

The focus is only on those components that promote the interaction between humans and robots. Robot systems and their sub-systems without specific interaction are not the subject of funding and should be largely disregarded.

2.1 Content of the projects

The joint projects with industrial participation must show significant progress in one or more of the following aspects compared to the current state of research and technology:

  1. Robustness of the interaction: Living and everyday environments in the vicinity of people are dynamic and unstructured environments that represent a major challenge for the interaction with technical systems. The projects should therefore pay particular attention to the development of functionally stable and error-resistant process sequences using multimodal sensorimotor systems that enable the robots to act and react in line with expectations. The robot systems to be developed should also be capable of continuous operation at practical execution speeds. For this purpose, robots can also use sensor systems installed in the environment (e.g. in the smart home) in order to expand their knowledge base. The reliable regaining of functionality after faults must also be addressed.
  2. Personal safety of robots: The skills to be developed should enable the robot to enter into direct, immediate interaction with humans. Particular importance must therefore be attached to the consideration of safety aspects to ensure safe interaction between people. Even with comparatively high execution speeds, the physical harmlessness of all involved must be guaranteed. For this purpose, among other things, soft-robotic research approaches are available to enable intrinsically safe and elastic robots that adapt to external conditions and obstacles. The processing of haptic information by the robot is therefore of particular importance. Predictability of robot movements can also be an important element in ensuring personal safety. Furthermore, it is necessary to take into account the legal framework, in particular with regard to regulations for autonomously operating systems. This also includes the implementation of a risk assessment and the development of safety concepts.
  3. Transferability of basic skills: In everyday life, interactive basic skills must be applicable in different scenarios and with different mechanical constructions (robot kinematics). The aim is therefore also to develop flexible, modular interaction skills that can be integrated into complex interaction scenarios of different robot systems (as elements of a modular system). An essential aspect here is the consideration of service models including the internet-based learning ability and remote maintenance of the basic interactive skills. Appropriate considerations and approaches from the research field of cloud robotics are to be incorporated into the technical development projects. The demonstrability and transferability of the interactive basic skills should be shown.

As a result of the research and development projects, a substantial contribution to the improvement of interaction-relevant basic skills in the subject areas of perception, navigation or manipulation as well as to the usability and acceptance by system integrators and end users or users is expected.

2.2 Cooperation with accompanying project

A needs-based development of people-safe, reliable and transferable, but above all also simple and expected-compliant technologies for people is fundamental for all projects in this funding priority. In order to harmonize the modular basic skills developed in the individual joint projects, close cooperation with an accompanying project is planned. The accompanying project is a separate joint project with technological and non-technological expertise and is operationally active through consulting, moderation and evaluation. The accompanying project focuses on the disciplines of computer science, sociology and law as well as design and interaction research.

The interdisciplinary consortium advises the individual research projects on issues relevant to implementation and also contributes to better networking between the projects. The basis for advice is provided by recommendations for action, which initially start with the status quo of research and are specified and further developed by the accompanying consortium during the duration of the project. In this way, the planned accompanying project serves to transfer knowledge within the announcement and is intended to limit redundant processes and work. The predominantly isolated solutions are to be more closely interlinked in this way. For these reasons, the joint projects should take into account the following aspects with regard to cooperation:

  1. Technological harmonization: Basic agreements on the structure and documentation of the software interfaces are to be made in order to make the developed basic skills available with as different robot systems as possible in versatile interaction and application scenarios. Furthermore, redundant development work should be avoided, especially when integrating existing technology modules (approaches to already available sensor and actuator components).
  2. Non-technological harmonization: Findings on the individual needs and skills of users (such as their cultural or technical background) should be exchanged, compared and further developed. Furthermore, possible solutions to ethical, legal and, if necessary, insurance-related aspects are to be discussed.

As a result, the reusability and reusability of the basic interactive skills is promoted. The focus is on ensuring the compatibility and connectivity of the results for embedding and transferring basic modular skills in follow-up activities.

2.3 Requirements for the direction of the projects

Eligibility is also linked to the fact that the projects or the solutions developed within their framework meet the following criteria: The solutions must demonstrate integrability and suitability for everyday use through a suitable combination of hardware and software. This should be expressed in a correspondingly interdisciplinary composition of the consortia. Projects with a focus on software development will therefore not be funded.

Non-technical research questions (ELSI) resulting from the envisaged application or technology must be appropriately addressed in the project in accordance with the approach of integrated research. In particular, societal questions of acceptance or legal questions in connection with the solutions to be developed are to be examined in depth. This should be clearly reflected in the work plan and the consortium structure; the integration of social sciences and humanities disciplines in the project consortia is desirable. Cooperation with the accompanying project should be taken into account here.

3 beneficiaries

Associations of commercial companies or universities and non-university research institutions in association with companies are eligible to apply. Research institutions that receive basic funding from the federal government and / or the federal states can, in addition to their institutional funding, only be granted project funding for their additional project-related expenses or costs under certain conditions. In the case of joint projects, the partners must nominate the coordinator.

The participation of SMEs * is expressly desired (for a definition of SMEs, see https://foerderportal.bund.de/easy/module/easy_formulare/download.php?atei=220).

4 Eligibility requirements

The research and development work must be planned taking into account and presenting the technical and economic risks. The prerequisite for funding is the cooperation of those involved from business with science to solve joint research tasks. In addition to the required research and development partners, system integrators, manufacturers or providers must also be involved in such a network. Alliances with significant participation by SMEs are given preferential treatment. One of the exploiting or using companies should preferably be named as the coordinator.

Furthermore, the applicants are expected to be willing to collaborate across projects with other associations. In addition to cross-project participation in status seminars and networking meetings, cooperation with the accompanying project is required to closely interlink all activities within the announcement. Corresponding accompanying project meetings with representatives from the research projects should take place at least once a quarter.

In addition, the projects must show how they ensure that the relevant legal, ethical and social aspects are adequately taken into account. This is especially true if, as part of the user involvement of the projects, subject surveys, subject examinations or comparable measures are planned.

Great importance is attached to the dissemination of the results achieved and the cooperation with the companies in the respective user branch to exploit the results. The collaborative projects must therefore involve partners who want and are able to bring the research results to broad application after the demonstrator has been completed. Accompanying public relations work by the network partners, but also their active participation in high-profile measures of the BMBF is desirable.

Applicants should - also in their own interest - familiarize themselves with the EU framework program for research and innovation in the context of the planned national project.They should check whether the intended project has specific European components and thus whether exclusive EU funding is possible. Furthermore, it must be checked to what extent an additional funding application can be submitted to the EU in the context of the planned national project. This should be briefly presented in the national funding application.

The partners have to regulate their cooperation in a written cooperation agreement. Before the funding decision on a joint project is made, a fundamental agreement between the cooperation partners on certain criteria specified by the BMBF must be proven. Details can be found in the BMBF leaflet - form 0110 - (https://foerderportal.bund.de/easy/module/easy_formulare/download.php?atei=219).

5 Type, scope and amount of the donations

The grants can be granted in the form of project funding as non-repayable grants.

The assessment basis for universities, research and scientific institutions and comparable institutions is the eligible project-related expenses (at Helmholtz Centers and the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft - FhG - the eligible project-related costs), which can be funded individually up to 100%. For research projects at universities, a project lump sum of 20% is granted in addition to the eligible expenses.

The basis of assessment for grants to commercial companies are the eligible project-related costs, which can usually be financed up to 50% depending on the application of the project. According to BMBF principles, an appropriate personal contribution - in principle at least 50% of the costs that are eligible for funding - is required.

Projects by large companies can only be funded if the projects would not be carried out or would not be carried out to this extent without public funding, or if the public funding leads to a significant acceleration of development.

The GBER must take into account the calculation of the respective funding quota. The GBER allows differentiated surcharges for SMEs, which may lead to a higher funding rate.

The funding period is usually three years.

6 Other grant provisions

The general ancillary provisions for cost-based grants from the BMBF to commercial companies for research and development projects (NKBF98) are part of a cost-based grant notification. The general ancillary provisions for grants for project funding (ANBest-P) and the special ancillary provisions for grants by the BMBF for project funding on an expenditure basis (BNBest-BMBF98) as well as the special ancillary provisions for the retrieval of grants in the indirect retrieval process in the business area of ​​the BMBF (BNBest-indirect retrieval-BMBF), provided that the funding is made available in the so-called retrieval process.

7 procedures

7.1 Involvement of a project sponsor and request for documents

The BMBF has commissioned the project management organization VDI / VDE Innovation + Technik GmbH to implement this funding measure:

VDI / VDE Innovation + Technik GmbH
Project Management “Demographic Change; Human-technology interaction "
Steinplatz 1
10623 Berlin

Telephone: 0 30/31 00 78-1 01
Internet: http://www.mtidw.de
Contact person: Dr. Matthias Palzkill, Dr. Andi Winterboer

Relevant guidelines, leaflets, notes and ancillary provisions can be accessed via the Internet address http://www.mtidw.de/foerderung or requested directly from the project management agency.

7.2 Two-stage funding process

The funding process is designed in two stages.

7.2.1 Submission and selection of project outlines

In the first stage are initially at the project management company VDI / VDE Innovation + Technik GmbH

by August 10, 2016 at the latest

Submit project sketches in electronic form at http://www.technik-zum-menschen-haben.de/foerderung/bekanntmachungen in German. Project outlines received after this point in time may no longer be considered. In the case of joint projects, the project outlines are to be submitted by the joint coordinator.

Together with the sketch, confirmations of knowledge and the correctness of the information given in the sketch must be submitted, in writing or by email, by representatives of all project partners (usually the project managers).

Project outlines must not exceed 20 A4 pages including attachments (at least 10 point font size, 1.5 lines).

They must contain a technically assessable rough concept and rough financial planning. In the rough concept, the objectives of the joint project, the organizational structure and the work program are to be explained, paying special attention to the statements in number 2 “Subject of funding” and number 4 “Grant requirement”. Particular emphasis is placed on a comprehensible representation of the extent to which the technical systems to be developed go beyond the current state of research and to what extent they have a clear added value compared to already existing solutions.

In addition, the sketch must contain an exploitation concept / business model in which market potentials and exploitation options are presented, taking into account the competitive situation and subsequent value creation in Germany or the European Economic Area.

A suggested structure for the project outline can be found at: http://www.technik-zum-menschen-haben.de/foerderung/bekanntmachungen. Interested parties are free to add further points which, in their opinion, are important for an assessment of their proposal.

It is recommended to contact the project management agency VDI / VDE-IT directly before submitting the project outlines.

No legal claims can be derived from the submission of the project outlines.

The evaluation and selection of the project outlines takes place with the involvement of an expert committee appointed by the BMBF. The project outlines received are evaluated according to the following criteria:

  • Classification in the thematic focus of the announcement.
  • Scientific-technical innovation level: Does the innovation addressed in the project go beyond the current state of research and development?
  • Practical innovation effect: Does the innovation also represent added value in the implementation for the handling of humans with robots, e.g. B. by improving the possibilities of using robots in everyday application scenarios?
  • Scientific and technical quality of the project outline (methodical approach; meaningful work plan with objectifiable goals that are as specific, measurable and timed as possible and equally demanding and achievable).
  • Implementation of the integrated research and development approach:
  • Consideration of the relevant legal, ethical and social aspects;
  • interdisciplinary cooperation;
  • plausible representation of the cooperation with the accompanying project or the planned procedure for the suitable integration of all necessary competencies and expertise in the consortium;
  • Qualification of the partners and composition of the association (e.g. integration of partners with commercial exploitation perspectives and of SMEs);
  • Quality of the utilization concept / business model;
  • Appropriateness of the planned financial expenses.

The submitted proposals are in competition with each other. On the basis of the assessment, the project outlines suitable for funding are selected by the BMBF. The interested parties will be informed of the selection result in writing.

7.2 Submission of formal funding applications and decision-making procedures

If the evaluation is positive, the interested parties will be asked in a second stage of the procedure, stating detailed information, the formal criteria and a date, in writing to submit a formal funding application in consultation with the intended network coordinator. For this purpose, each participant in the consortium submits a separate application (on AZA or AZK basis) including a detailed description of the tasks and the description of the work packages via the electronic application system "easy-Online" (https://foerderportal.bund.de/easyonline).

These should contain the following information in particular:

  • detailed work plan including project-related resource planning and milestone planning,
  • detailed financial plan of the project,
  • detailed exploitation plan,
  • Presentation of the need for care.

If necessary, requirements from the first stage must be taken into account. Exact requirements will be communicated when a formal funding application is requested.

The formal funding applications received are evaluated and checked according to the following criteria:

  • Eligibility of the funds applied for,
  • Necessity and appropriateness of the requested funds,
  • Comprehensibility of the explanations of the financing plan,
  • Quality and informative value of the exploitation plan, also with regard to the funding policy objectives of this funding measure,
  • If necessary, implementation of the requirements from the first stage and compliance with the financial framework recommended there for funding.

The BMBF will decide on the submitted funding applications after a final review.

If possible, the project start for all funded projects of the announcement should take place on June 1, 2017.

For the approval, payment and accounting of the grant as well as for the verification and checking of the use, the possibly necessary cancellation of the grant notification and the reclaiming of the granted grant, the administrative regulations to § 44 BHO as well as §§ 48 to 49a of the Administrative Procedure Act apply, if not Deviations are permitted in these funding guidelines.

8 Entry into force

These funding guidelines come into force after they have been published in the Federal Gazette.

Bonn, April 1, 2016

Federal Ministry
for education and research

On behalf
A. Eickmeyer-Hehn

Amendment of the notice to promote research and development in the field of "Autonomous robots for assistance functions: basic interactive skills". Federal Gazette from 07.09.2017

* SME = small and medium-sized enterprises