Helmholtz Alliance ROBEX

Robotic Exploration of Extreme Environments


The Helmholtz Alliance “Robotic Exploration of Extreme Environments – ROBEX” brings together world’s first space and deep-sea research. A total of 15 institutions distributed all over Germany are jointly developing technologies to improve the exploration of environments with extreme conditions such as deep sea, Polar Regions, our Earth’s moon and other celestial bodies.

In the first ROBEX-year, two scientific communities had met each other while taking part in various workshops, made their respective challenges transparent and agreed on a common solution concept for both research environments.

The different scientific questions that we want to answer by the research on the Moon and in the deep sea should be addressed both by a common method, namely seismic surveys, as well as with a common technological solution. To this, it has been agreed in the course of the first year, to develop and build together a combination of a stationary system with one or more mobile elements. The stationary system should provide as a central part for energy supply and data exchange, the mobile systems to perform the actual scientific exploration in the deep sea or on the Moon.

It is the overarching objective of the ROBEX Alliance to equip these combined systems with innovative technologies for energy exchange, data transfer and as much autonomy. The complex interaction in both the deep sea as well as in a so-called “Moon-analog landscape” should be demonstrated during demo missions in the last year of the Alliance. In addition to the central projects which should lead to the demonstration missions 12 design team projects were established. Within these design teams researchers and engineers work together interdisciplinary and develop technological solutions and both sides with their respective expertise can benefit from each other. Thus, for example, an underwater glider is built in one of the design team who gets a boost by integrating the know-how of an aviation institute involved in ROBEX. Another example is the design team “high performance concrete“, in which the TU-Dresden, after it was originally involved in the Alliance because of the development of concepts for the production of concrete from lunar regolith, now will provide very likely also highly innovative impulses for the development of underwater pressure housings.

The Helmholtz Alliance is accompanied by an extensive training and doctoral program, so that the general public, teachers and students, as well as young scientists are involved in the progress of this new synergy between previously separate research communities.

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    • Prof. Dr. Karin Lochte
    • Speaker Helmholtz-Allianz ROBEX
      Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI)