Intelligent Robots

To mark the occasion of the tenth anniversary of Germany's most valuable research award, KOSMOS spoke with several of the award winners about their experiences. In this report, we talk with the computer scientist Oliver Brock.

Text: Armin Himmelrath (published: Kosmos 108/2018)

To build robots that can deal with everyday tasks and situations just as well and as efficiently as people can – that is Oliver Brock’s mission. He is not so much interested in the routine of certain activities, but rather, in how robots manage in dynamic situations and unstructured environments. The crucial challenges that need to be met are perception, power of judgement, mobility and dexterity.

The computer scientist who moved to TU Berlin from the United States as one of the first generation of Humboldt Professors sees himself as a bridge-builder between computer science and biology. He works on biological algorithms and uses his expertise to explain and predict the structure and behaviour of proteins in molecular biology. The development of autonomous robots could help to crack some of the unsolved problems of molecular biology. And Brock, who continues to head of the Robotics and Biology Laboratory at TU Berlin even after his Humboldt sponsorship came to an end, wants to transfer this knowledge about proteins and their behaviour to concrete applications. Contacts with industry are part of Oliver Brock’s normal working life.