Ulm University

Department of Human Factors

The Department of Human Factors at Ulm University (UUHF) explores how people interact with technical systems and investigates questions of psychological foundations and human behaviour in human-technology interaction. UUHF leads the consortium within the ZEN-MRI project. In other words, it organises the project.

Moreover, its contribution to research focuses on studies on how human-robot interaction is perceived and evaluated in public spaces. In this context, our primary interests include processes of trust, acceptance and fear, as well as attitudes towards service robots in public spaces.

Dr. Johannes

Post-doc, Head of Human-Robot Interaction, ZEN-MRI consortium leader

“ZEN-MRI brings robots and people together. With the Ulm city centre as a real-life lab, we can engage in pioneering work and contribute to a positive and harmonious coexistence between robots and humans going forward. It will be exciting and demanding – challenge accepted.”

Dr. Zhe

Research associate

“ZEN-MRI is all about putting people in the spotlight and exploring interactive concepts that will really help them to learn what functions robots can fulfil and what they will do next. To do so, the methods we use include measuring eye movements to explore which parts of the robots the people observe.”


“ZEN-MRI stands for science FOR and not just with people. I am looking forward to exploring and shaping a harmonious and pleasant coexistence for ALL people in our future cities.”


“The ZEN-MRI project also investigates the needs of vulnerable groups. Here, for example, we are also looking at how inclusive design can enable people with disabilities – such as the blind – to experience pleasant interaction with the robots.”

Adlatus Robotics GmbH

ADLATUS Robotics GmbH develops, produces and sells autonomous service robots and delivers complete solutions to its clients, including consulting, commissioning, training and service. 

The Ulm-based company manufactures the cleaning and delivery robots that will be investigated in the ZEN-MRI project, makes them available for the studies and uses the findings to further develop concepts for robot interaction. 

ADLATUS robots are series products that are not just involved in the study but are already deployed in practical settings around the world.

Dr. Siegfried Hochdorfer von Adlatus Robotics GmbH

Dr. Siegfried

“Interaction with humans is a vital component in the acceptance of autonomous cleaning robots such as those manufactured by ADLATUS Robotics. This is why ADLATUS has been involved in researching human-robot interaction for several years.”

Fraunhofer IAO

The User Experience Team at the Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Engineering (IAO) designs technology that can be used intuitively and is inspirational – for people and the lives they lead. Within the ZEN-MRI project, IAO contributes its long-standing expertise in application-oriented research into the human-centered design of human-robot interaction.

Innovative, viable deployment scenarios and additional robot functions are developed and tested together with citizens. Moreover, IAO designs intuitive interaction strategies for encounters between humans and robots in public spaces.


“Ultimately, success hinges on people and not on the technical features of a service robot. To ensure that robots are accepted and willingly used in the long term, their deployment must be pleasant and beneficial for all stakeholders. In a nutshell: encounters need to be positive.”

Stuttgart Media University

The Institute for Digital Ethics (IDE) at the Stuttgart Media University is entrusted with tasks relating to the holistic appreciation of social, ethical and legal issues according to the ethics-by-design approach.

It will also perform an accompanying empirical study of human-robot interaction to ensure

ethical integration of AI and robotics in public spaces. Narrative interviews will be conducted with users to collect data on their expectations, wishes and fears.

Prof. Dr. Petra

Professor of Media Research and Communication Studies

“By applying our ethics-by-design approach, we at the Institute for Digital Ethics (IDE) provide collaborative support to development and design processes for autonomous systems: Digital ethics and laws should not prevent innovative design of technology. Instead their opportunities need to be harnessed by considering risks and potential conflicts right from the start.”

Prof. Dr. Michael Veddern

Professor for Media and Publishing Law

“Data privacy needs to be considered from day one as an elementary right and a crucial part of the big picture. Doing so enables the ideal combination of digital innovation and the protection of personal data.”

Dr. Kai Erik

Research coordinator, academic assistant

“The deployment of robotic systems in social environments always brings with it a range of ethical and legal questions. Our research investigates the concerns, fears and hopes that people associate with robotics. We also want to conduct empirical research into what can be done to enable robots too ‘learn’ ethical principles of action.”


Research associate

“It is absolutely essential to consider the deployment of robots in everyday scenarios from an interdisciplinary perspective. Laws and data privacy must not become show stoppers. Instead they must help people to protect their personal rights.”


Research assistant

“Human-robot interaction will be one of the most important issues going forward. As a student, I therefore find it extraordinarily exciting to accompany a project of this magnitude and to obtain more profound insights into academic procedures.”

City of Ulm

In its projects, the City of Ulm focuses on forward-looking and sustainable urban development and seeks to make the topic of robotics tangible for citizens. The City supports the project in close cooperation with Ulmer Parkbetriebs-GmbH (PBG).

The City provides test spaces, organises the test field and coordinates implementation with the relevant agencies such as citizen services, traffic regulators or waste disposal companies. It also searches for test persons.


Lord Mayor of the City of Ulm

“As an innovative city, we encourage contact with forward-looking technologies that are becoming integrated within our everyday lives – including robotics. We are delighted that encounters such as these can be experienced in Ulm and made tangible for citizens and that new technical opportunities can be put to beneficial use.”


Director of the Central Office

“The project brings together science, business, citizens and administration within a setting in which all stakeholders can learn from each other. Doing so lays the foundation for genuine innovation with value added for the city’s social fabric. This creates tangible progress and allows citizens to participate in all of its facets.”


Chief Operating Officer at Ulmer Parkbetriebs-GmbH

“A cleaning robot has already been deployed and is in operation in the underground car park at Ulm Town Hall. What matters now is to explore which additional services and new technical possibilities can be introduced when robots become part of the cityscape and workflows change, also in the car park at the railway station and underground arcade.”