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Hybrid Teams for Industry 4.0 – Research Project Hybr-iT successfully completed

The aim of the Hybr-iT joint project, which was funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), was to intensify flexible collaboration between humans, robots and production equipment. The project, which had a volume of around 10 million euros and involved eight project partners in research over a period of three years, was concluded on October 30 with an event at Volkswagen AG in Wolfsburg.

With an innovative approach in human-robot collaboration (HRC), a new path of participatory work design was taken: self-organization and communication of team members were intertwined with the classic work plan orientation and effectively coordinated.


v.l.n.r.: Dr. Ralph Schmidt (DLR), Ministerrätin Ute Bernhardt, Dr. Anselm Blocher (DFKI), Matthias Behrens (VW), Dr. Holger Heyn (VW), Silke Munske (VW), Prof. Dr. Wahlster (DFKI), Dr. Martin Hofmann (VW CIO)

Hybr-iT makes a significant contribution to the mutability required in the future and thus to the optimal utilization of assembly and production facilities. Economically profitable production even at low volumes is to be made possible by Industry 4.0. Extremely adaptable manufacturing systems that can be adapted flexibly and quickly to constantly changing requirements in good time are the production technology basis. Although available production systems are already largely digitized, networked and, in some cases, adaptable, they are not yet sufficiently equipped for actual collaboration between humans and robots. In addition to these manufacturing challenges, Hybr-iT also addresses questions of socio-technical controllability.

The goals in Hybr-iT are to establish and industrially test hybrid teams in which humans and robots work together with software-based assistance systems in intelligent environments in industrial manufacturing. Hybr-iT researches and tests in an industrial context the necessary components that are essential for the planning and optimization of hybrid teams, for their integration into an existing IT and production structure, and for their control in production operations.

Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Wahlster, overall project manager in Hybr-iT, explains: “We are striving for a holistic approach to the individual disciplines of human-robot collaboration, intelligent planning environments, assistance systems and knowledge-based robotics. In the production process, workers are to be supported by robots in such a way that this teamwork is safe, efficient and ergonomic for them.”

From an IT perspective, this involves massively distributed systems with very heterogeneous subsystems such as plant and robot controllers, safety, logistics, database, assistance, tracking, simulation and visualization systems, which are interconnected in a comprehensive resource-oriented architecture (ROA).

The results of the Hybr-iT project will be applied and evaluated in production processes in the automotive and aircraft manufacturing industries with a high proportion of manual assembly work.

A research demonstrator designed for Hannover Fair 2019 implemented the project’s goals using a hybrid manufacturing scenario in aircraft construction: A team of two humans and six robots jointly managed several manufacturing tasks. Here, robots take over what is unergonomic, repetitive or physically stressful for humans, such as setting and sealing rivets on the aircraft fuselage or installing cable ducts in the wing. Here, the robots organize themselves “around the human being,” who thus gains degrees of freedom and flexibility in completing his work plan.

Abschlussveranstaltung des Projektkonsortiums bei VW in Wolfscburg

Project information

Project partners

Airbus Operations GmbH, BAuA (Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health), Broetje Automation GmbH, DFKI GmbH (project coordination) EngRoTec GmbH & Co.KG, KUKA Deutschland GmbH, The Captury GmbH, Volkswagen Aktiengesellschaft

Project volume: approx.10 Mio.€
Project duration: 01.11.2016 to 31.10.2019

DFKI contact

Dr. Anselm Blocher
Research Department Cognitive Assistance Systems
Phone: +49 681 85775 5262