Researchers at Forschungszentrum Informatik (FZI) at the University of Karlsruhe wanted to build a robot that could help people in daily life. The robot would have to be partly humanoid in appearance in order to put people at ease, and work with people through natural means. With this lofty goal in mind ARMAR was built in the year 2000. It featured a humanoid upper-body on a wheeled base. Its upper-body had 25 degrees of freedom (torso x4, 2 arms x7, 2 grippers x2, head x3) while its base was driven by 2 wheels.
In July 2001, the DFG (Deutsche Forschungs- Gemeinschaft) established the Collaborative Research Center 588: Humanoid Robots (Learning and Cooperating Multimodal Robots) at the university to develop human-friendly robots, research which will continue until at least June 30th, 2012. More than 40 scientists at 13 research institutes (including the Fraunhofer Institute of Optronics, System Technologies and Image Exploitation [IOSB] and the Forschungszentrum Informatik Karlsruhe [FZI]) are developing robots that may one day help the elderly or disabled lead more independent lives.
ARMAR-II was built in 2002 with a torso that could rotate 330 degrees, as well as bend forward, back, and side to side. Like the first version, it had 4 DOF in its torso and 7 DOF in its arms with simple claws. Since the goal of the project was to build a robot that could cooperate near humans, its arms were 65cm in length, about the same as the average person. It weighed 45kg (99 lbs) and had a telescoping joint in its body which could raise the robot’s height by 40cm (15″).
With the long term goal of building a robot that could safely and naturally interact with people at home and in the work place, it would have to be able to learn new tasks to adapt to new circumstances and understand human intent. In order to attack these difficult problems, a huge body of work has developed around teaching and learning new tasks. In 2006, a new version of ARMAR replaced these models.