TRAMPER is a yellow, toolbox-sized robot with caterpillar tracks. It is currently leading a very lonely existence, as it explores the seabed at 2,500 metres depth in the inhospitable north polar seas more than 100 kilometres off the coast of Spitsbergen.
TRAMPER will be brought back to the surface by the Polarstern research vessel when the year-long mission ends in August 2017, by which time it will have covered around 800 metres on its rubber tracks. It is the world’s first robot capable of autonomous deep-sea exploration beneath the polar ice cap. “We’re looking forward to the research results – we haven’t had contact for a year,” says Martina Wilde, scientific coordinator at the Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research at the Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI) in Bremerhaven. She sounds a little like a mother who has sent her son to holiday camp for the first time. Wilde and the team of scientists from the AWI hope that TRAMPER will not only be a technical success, but will also provide data on the oxygen content of the sediment and therefore on life in the sea deep beneath the ice.
TRAMPER belongs to a fleet of robots developed by the ROBEX alliance. ROBEX stands for ‘robotic exploration under extreme conditions’, and the research project will end after five years with the Polarstern’s expedition to Spitsbergen in the late summer of 2017. Back in 2012, 16 institutions across Germany formed the Helmholtz alliance to develop robot technologies for use in both space and deep-sea exploration.
This type of cooperation was a first for the 120 scientists, as the two disciplines usually work separately. “What brought us together were the similarities in robot technology and our limited research budgets. In retrospect, it was stroke of good fortune,” says Wilde. Before taking on the role of project coordinator at ROBEX, the qualified astrophysicist worked at the German Aerospace Center (DLR) in Cologne for many years. Even before the final mission has been accomplished, the importance of the project is clear in her mind: “It’s purely thanks to ROBEX that we have been able to build and test so many different robots over the last five years. We have made real progress.”
Deep seas and space have much in common: both are dark, difficult to reach and inhospitable to humans. But the two fields of research work entirely differently, as the scientists soon discovered at the start of the project. “Space exploration has long development phases of ten to fifteen years, and the scientists do a lot of work on theoretical concepts. Deep-sea research takes a more pragmatic approach, and everything happens a lot quicker. In the beginning, we had little common ground for collaboration,” Wilde says, looking back.
But the breakthrough finally came a few months later. The scientists split up into design teams to take on specific subprojects, and every design team had members from both disciplines. Once they were forced to work together, a real spirit of collaboration evolved. To good effect: four space exploration systems and six deep-sea robots were developed over the five years of the project. Alongside TRAMPER, there is an underwater glider and an autonomous rover for missions on other planets.
In order to test the rover, a team travelled to Mount Etna in June 2017. The barren, black and hostile volcanic landscape is similar to the surface of the moon – an ideal testing ground for the robots. A total of 50 ROBEX staff with their equipment established a base at an altitude of 2,600 metres to thoroughly test a lander and two rovers for a week. “The trip was a great success, as was the entire project. Overall, both disciplines have benefited from the collaboration,” Wilde concludes. “Deploying autonomous robots in deep-sea exploration is entirely new; until now, they have been remotely controlled by cable. Space research has been able to learn from the shorter project cycles in deep-sea research.”
From an altitude of 2,600 metres to a depth of 2,500 metres – the project is an adventure for Wilde, too. After the mission to Mount Etna in June, she will be off to the Arctic in August aboard the Polarstern. “I’ve never been so far away from civilisation,” she admits with a laugh. “I hope it all goes well.” She will be writing a blog while on board and will be eagerly waiting for TRAMPER to surface. Her love of robots is not confined to this diver: her favourites also include an elegant underwater glider developed by the Center for Marine Environmental Sciences (MARUM), which is capable of scanning vast areas of ocean with its sensors.
Wilde works in Bremerhaven – the ideal location for this kind of interdisciplinary project, as many partners on the ROBEX project are based in the local area. These include the AWI, the MARUM, the DLR, the University of Bremen, Jacobs University, Airbus and the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI). “Bremen brings space research and deep-sea exploration together, which is a real plus for the city,” says Wilde.
The future of her team has already been settled: once ROBEX has been completed, the next project, ARCHES, will further develop selected technologies. By then, TRAMPER will also be out on another year-long mission under the ice. If all goes well, it will have company: on board the Polarstern is a second crawler called NOMAD, which will embark on its first underwater excursions around Spitsbergen. It will one day autonomously explore the oceans like its older brother.
For further information about the north German maritime cluster, please contact Andreas Born, innovations manager for the north German maritime cluster and Industry 4.0, on +49 (0)421 960 0316 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
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Nowhere in Germany is bigger in the aerospace industry than Bremen. We spoke to Bremen-based scientists working on the space side of aerospace about their projects, their life in the city, and their tips on where to live and where to visit.
Every year, the movers and shakers of the space industry gather at the International Astronautical Congress (IAC). From 1 to 5 October, it will be Bremen’s turn to host the event. A team from the Center of Applied Space Technology and ...
To the south of Bremerhaven, plans are taking shape for a new business and industrial park that will fulfil strict sustainability criteria. Situated on what is known as the Luneplate, a site close to the largest nature conservation area in the state of Bremen, the park is set to become the home of companies operating in the green economy.
How is the role of media and other forms of communication changing in society? What are the resulting challenges? The international MA in Digital Media and Society, which launches at the University of Bremen in time for the winter semester, aims to provide the answers.
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Stathis Stasinopoulos built his first bike so that he could get to and from work in Athens more easily. At the time, he could not have imagined that his idea would see him set up his own business in Bremen. We visited the entrepreneurial engineer in his new workshop in the north of Bremen.
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The exploration of celestial bodies, such as Mars, Mercury and the moon, requires detailed geological maps. An international research project is now laying the foundations for this. Bremen-based geologist Dr Angelo Pio Rossi is one of the initiators of the data project.
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The depths of the ocean remain one of the last great mysteries on Earth. What is the precise composition of the seafloor? What flora and fauna inhabit it? Where has the delicate balance of the ecosystem been seriously disrupted? We still don’t have complete answers to any of these questions, but four young scientists from Bremen are aiming to change that.
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Bremen is known in China as one of the world’s major ports. But that’s just one of the factors attracting Chinese companies to our Hanseatic city.
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Even Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible would find it difficult to break into this data centre. Metre-thick concrete walls are just one of the many security measures protecting this bunker.
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In April 2018, Team Beverage AG moved its headquarters from Wildeshausen in Lower Saxony to Bremen. The company provides services to the drinks industry in wholesale, retail and the catering and convenience sectors. Now, its success story is set to continue at Bremen Airport-Stadt with the relocation of its head office and 90 or so employees.
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Tizz & Tonic: Two sisters from Canada are producing and selling sustainable and organic underwear in the centre of Bremen. But what was it that attracted them to Bremen? We caught up with the two well-travelled fashion designers to find out.
Bremen Airport-Stadt is an international transport hub and a centre of excellence for the aerospace industry and for research and learning. It occupies a leading position among Germany’s airport locations. Here are ten benefits that Bremen Airport-Stadt offers.
Hard facts take top priority when it comes to the choice of location for international or domestic businesses. But the faster we feel comfortable outside the workplace in the everyday routines and culture of a foreign country, the sooner we feel at home. In addition to trade, science – and of course its port, Bremen has plenty to offer when it comes to quality of life.
Home to 19,500 on-campus students, several research institutes and high-tech companies, parks, hotels, restaurants, cafés and the Universum Bremen science centre, the technology park in Bremen is one of Germany’s most successful. So what is the secret behind its 30 years of success?
In December 2014, ORTEC GmbH moved from Lower Saxony to Bremen. The software specialist hoped to strengthen its market position by moving to the city’s Überseestadt district. Around three and a half years later, we got in touch with the company again to ask whether the move has been a success.
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Chinese honey has come a long way – and in January 2018, ten containers full arrived in Bremerhaven from China. But is it actually organic? It certainly is – Lin Zhao, managing director of Dewin, works closely with laboratories in Bremen to confirm the quality of his honey. The proximity to these laboratories was a deciding factor in his choice of location for his business.
Wind energy, geophysics, translation, design and communication – we portray five diverse women, who have successful careers and shared their fascinating stories with us. What is their industry and working life like? What motivates them? Why Bremen?
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One day, astronauts will live and carry out research on the moon – and even a colony on Mars is no longer the distant utopian dream it once was. But how will people be able to live in an extraterrestrial environment? The Center of Applied Space Technology and Microgravity (ZARM) at the University of Bremen is working on a solution.
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When it comes to Brexit it’s not about a hard-fought international contest to attract relocating businesses; it’s about coming together to manage the change, says Andreas Gerber of Bremeninvest in our interview.
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Bremen-based company Home & Marine works in a sector that generates huge interest, but is often shrouded in secrecy – it builds complex entertainment systems for mega-yachts. The company is reluctant to speak about customers and orders, but since it was founded just over 25 years ago, Home & Marine has worked on more than 100 yachts.
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Dr Zareer Dadachanji was not going to wait around for Brexit to happen, and has held a German passport since the beginning of the year. He firmly believes that Brexit has no plus points. He and his wife have chosen to locate their new business – Model Quant Solutions – in Bremen, despite the fact that the company’s customers are mainly based in the UK.
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Space technologies have advanced greatly in recent years, leading to increasing demands from the business and research sectors. To meet these requirements, Bremen University now offers unique master’s degrees in Space Engineering and Space Sciences and Technologies.
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Stathis Stasinopoulos was unable to find the perfect folding bicycle for his commute to work across Athens. So he developed his own. The bike, called ‘Folding Project’, is lightweight and comfortable and folds up in five seconds. This has given Stasinopoulos an unexpected new direction in life.
A growing number of companies are becoming more aware of their social and environmental footprint, and are looking for ways to act with greater environmental and social responsibility. Germany’s north-west is set to become the national centre for social entrepreneurship in logistics. A new platform is under development and the first round of events is being planned to achieve this goal.
This new master’s degree at Bremerhaven University of Applied Sciences prepares students for the future and offers them excellent job prospects.
As both Airbus and Mercedes already know, when it comes to infrastructure and commercial property, businesses should look to Germany’s north-west. To Bremen, to be more precise. The Hanseatic city boasts the following five locational factors.
BLG Logistics Group is a major player in logistics with 18,000 employees. It established the Digilab in Bremen as a core element of its digitalisation. The company’s premises are reminiscent of start-ups in Silicon Valley, and there are good reasons for that.
Irina Lucke has been at the helm of WAB since December 2016. We talked about her role in the german-wide trade association and the challenges that an ever-changing business and regulatory environment poses for the international wind energy industry.
In June 2016, the UK voted in favour of Brexit, and the exit negotiations are currently in progress. Which industry sectors in Bremen will be particularly hit, and what effect will Brexit have on the Hanseatic city?
FabLab Bremen invites visitors to learn about new manufacturing technologies and try their hand at everything from laser cutters to printing and programming. Digital technology enthusiasts of all ages and programmers of all abilities are welcome here. And it is not long before they can put what they have learnt to good use.
Bremen's sweetest side is made of chocolate. No matter whether it’s milk or dark chocolate, nougat or marzipan. Take a walk around Bremen and taste it.
The founders of Mac Panther Materials, two brothers from Bremen, produce an open-cell metal foam for use in a number of different applications. Its secret lies in the production process that is based on a brilliant and yet simple idea.
An engine under the bonnet drives the wheels – this is the configuration that has been powering cars for over a hundred years. However, wheel hub motors – i.e. motors in the hub of the wheel, not under the bonnet – promise many advantages. Electric drive systems make this possible.
The digital revolution has reached every branch of industry. Many of the technological trends associated with the Industrial Internet of Things originated in Silicon Valley. Rene van den Hoevel, managing director of the German American Chamber of Commerce in San Francisco, and Christoph Ranze, managing director of encoway GmbH and executive board member of the association bremen digitalmedia, explain why it is not only large corporations who should be looking closely at the epicentre of technological advancement.
In the space of just a few years, the maritime city of Bremerhaven has developed into a service centre for the seafaring and shipbuilding industry. At the centre of it all is the company German Dry Docks, whose managing director, Guido Försterling, has already heralded the era of ‘seafaring 4.0’.
Bionics is the application of forms and functions found in nature to technology. Marine biologist Dr Christian Hamm and his team of researchers in Bremerhaven are leading figures in this field thanks to ELiSE. They are particularly interested in the tiny, yet incredibly complex, diatoms – nature’s experts in lightweight construction.
The multi-million-mile journey of the Ariane 5 rocket begins in Bremen, while that of Spacelab came to an end here in 1999, after 15 years of service with 22 missions to outer space. Ariane Group in Bremen is the ideal place to experience the history of space travel.
A new process has been attracting attention in the food industry. Developed by the Bremerhaven Institute for Food Technology and Bioprocess Engineering, the new method enables deep frozen fish to be defrosted in record time. And the fish tastes as fresh as the day it was caught.
For over 15 years, Jacobs University in Bremen has attracted young, talented individuals from all over the world. Students from 106 countries make up a community that contributes to academic achievement and produces graduates that are highly sought after by companies.
Fiona Moore is originally from Burton-on-Trent, near Birmingham, and now works as a freelance translator in Bremen. She fell in love with Bremen in her early twenties. That was back in 2000, but 17 years later she is still as enchanted by the city as she was on the first day. She tells us about settling in Bremen, about her family and about being fortunate to have found a home in here.
Photography studios, workshops and professional kitchens are rarely fully occupied round the clock. So why not let others share them? The german start-up Craftspace brings together providers of production spaces with entrepreneurs, small business owners and artists on a single online platform. It’s an arrangement that benefits everyone.
It’s an adventure playground for kids, an idyllic sanctuary for couples, and a quiet retreat for those looking to escape from stress – from joggers and Nordic walkers to lovers of nature and culture, the Bürgerpark in the centre of Bremen has something for everyone. For the last 150 years, this protected heritage site in the centre of Bremen has relied solely on the support of donations to keep it open and well-maintained.
A great deal of manual labour goes into aircraft construction. Despite this – or perhaps even because of it – Airbus is changing its approach to make increased use of digital technologies. It’s also researching the applications of new manufacturing technologies such as 3D printing. And not a moment too soon, as Airbus’ site manager in Bremen, Dr André Walter, explains in our interview.
GeoSea, a subsidiary of the Belgian DEME group, is helping to construct of some of the largest offshore wind farms in the German North Sea – and in Bremen, the company has found the ideal location to carry out its work.