"My colleague, the robot" - a popular member of staff?

9 January 2019
Hamburg-based Synergeticon teaching robots to multitask 

Robots are literally taken out of cages at Synergeticon and given physically demanding, but monotonous tasks. Founded in 2016 by David Küstner, 30, and Daniel Erdelmeier, 32, and now based at the Centre for Applied Aviation Research (ZAL) in Hamburg, Synergeticon offers individual software solutions in digital assistance systems, collaborative robotics and artificial intelligence. “Our concept brings a certain intelligence to the robot. It even writes its own programmes,” said Küstner.

Multitasking robot

Conventional automation in vehicle and aircraft construction is operated mainly in stationary systems, which are programmed at great expense for a single application and are inflexible. Synergeticon’s robot, on the other hand, can be used for multitasking. “The robot scans its environment with a multi-stage sensor system. First roughly, to get its bearings and then to solve certain tasks in a second more detailed step. The system is comparable to self-propelled cars,” said Erdelmeier. 

Humans – no phased out model

Robots can now perform tasks, loathed by their human colleagues, such as setting 200 screws overhead and become a welcome member of a team. Such experiences can allay fears of a robot that wipes out jobs, according to Küstner and Erdelmeier. “Apart from that, we are not dealing with general intelligence. Artificial intelligence in the robots allows them to complete certain tasks very well – but only specific tasks. Thus, humans are certainly not on the way out.” 

Traceability of programme vital

A training programme in the robot ensures that it learns and is intelligent. “A vast amount of work has gone into this programme,” said Erdelmeier. Synergeticon has also worked with self-learning algorithms to a certain extent. Enter deep learning! “But we have to be able to follow the robot’s every step at all times. That’s why the use of deep learning is limited.” Ultimately, Synergeticon has developed a modular system based on industrial standards, which can always be adapted to the respective requirements and supplemented with new features. 

Project-based growth without investors

“We are now in a prototype status and entering the testing phase. Our prototype has already passed all the tests on ZAL’s demonstrator. Now, it will undergo real-time tests at Airbus,” said Küstner. If those tests are successful, the system could be used in any industry, for instance, to build energy plants. “Siemens would be an interesting customer,” he added. A look back shows that the start-up is on the right track. By the end of 2018, 18 employees were generating seven-figure, project-based sales, without the support of an external investor. “We want to grow organically while remaining a medium-sized, well-connected company,” said Küstner.


Sources and further information

AL Innovation Days

David Küstner is among 20 renowned speakers, who will give a keynote on “Robotics & Advanced Automation” at the ZAL Innovation Days from February 27-28, 2019 in the ZALTechCenter. Emphasis is on advancing joint ideas for future technologies and innovative thinking. The ZAL Innovation Days will focus on the impact of new technologies on working life in general and the aviation sector in particular. The agenda includes discussions about the following topics: Human-Machine Collaborations and Automated & Autonomous Robots. Other speakers include Professor Wolfgang Wahlster*, CEO and Scientific Director of the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI), Dr. Niko Reuss*, Head of Advanced Product Technology, Festo AG & Co. KG, Professor Norbert Elkmann from the Fraunhofer Institute for Factory Operation and Automation IFF – Robot Systems or Dr. Bernhard Quendt, CTO Digital Factory Division at Siemens AG.

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