Close this search box.

Database can become a potential gamechanger for robotics

20 February 2023

Database can become a potential gamechanger for robotics

The reuse of robot data would make it much easier to improve existing or set up new robot solutions. This was the aim of the completed ReRoPro project led by Norbert Krüger, who is a Professor at the Mærsk Mc-Kinney Møller Institute at the University of Southern Denmark and part of SDU Robotics.

Photo: SDU

A robot database could save time and money and would also allow for smaller-scale productions to use robots. Although it sounds simple, unfortunately, it is everything but simple.

ReRoPro was a collaborative project between the University of Southern Denmark, University of Copenhagen and Aalborg University with the companies Rockwool, Novo Nordisk, Nordbo Robotics and WellTec as partners aiming to establish a robot database. Now the first and exploratory phase of the project is over, and the researchers are applying for funding to continue their work.

Benefits of using data from previous robot solutions
The project focused on reusing robot data to improve production processes but also on finding new robot solutions in a shorter time. That is a big problem for small and medium-sized enterprises: It takes a lot of time to establish an assembly solution. You usually need to start from scratch. But if you could make efficient use of data from earlier robot solutions, new solutions could be set up faster and cheaper. The problem, however, is that these data are in the head of people. They are not digitalized. Until now.

The idea is that when you want to automate a certain task you can type in some keywords, and the information from earlier similar productions is displayed to you. Right now, there are no established structures for the reuse of data within robotics, not even within companies.

To a large degree, that is because robot data are complex. In other fields such as computer vision, big databases and neural networks are very successful, because the data are homogenous. They consist of images, for instance. But within robotics you have all sorts of different data such as images, trajectories, force vectors, information on different materials, CAD-files and so on.

But this is only one of the challenges. You also need to make an interface that is intuitive so that it is easy to sort out the information you need from the information you do not need. Another challenge is how to reuse data for your specific task once you have the right data. There is no standardized way of organizing data.

Yet another challenge is that companies do not really want to share their robot data in a huge database to which other companies and competitors have access. It is kind of contradictory. On the one hand, the more data that is available in the database, the more powerful it would be and the more use of it companies would have. But, on the other hand, it is valuable and sensitive knowledge for the companies and obviously, companies are reluctant to make that accessible.

Possible solutions
There are different ways to go. A solution could be to develop a database structure that can be used by companies to reuse data within their own organization. Alternatively, you could make a system where the sensitive details are hidden, but where the data are still valuable for others.

In the ReRoPro project the problem has been analyzed in four use cases provided by the involved companies and by means of an international workshop with experts from industry and academia.

Next step
The involved partners have gained a much better understanding of the problem. Next step will be to apply for funding for establishing software structures that allow for the reuse of data.


SDU behind database for robot assembly: Industrial companies must learn from their own and other companies’ data

31 MAY 2022

SDU behind database for robot assembly: Industrial companies must learn from their own and other companies' data

A new approach for gathering robotic experience from industry, so companies don’t have to start from scratch every time they need to put robots into production, has been launched – SDU is leading the project, which shall make better use of robotic data.

As robots and automation solutions increase in industrial companies, plans and project descriptions grow in numbers, often ending up in a digital folder on a company PC – if such data is stored at all. In most cases the data is never to be used again.

So is the reality today, but in the future, established solutions for automation, robots and data produced during the production process shall be reused, possibly even from other companies. In that way, companies do not have to design the complete solution from scratch themselves.

This is the ambition of the ReRoPro project (Re-Use of Robotic-data in Production through search, simulation and learning) which is funded by the national research centre DIREC and led by the Mærsk Mc-Kinney Møller Institute at SDU.

– Big data is already being used in the IT-field, where it has been crucial for developments in areas such as facial or object recognition. In the robotics field, there is great potential for gathering data and experience from companies that have already adopted new technology and automation in their production, says professor Norbert Krüger from the SDU Robotics at the Faculty of Engineering.

– Today, each company stores robot data – if at all – in their own format, but such data could just as well benefit others so that we can spread the use of robots and ultimately maintain or even attract production back to Denmark, he says.

Giants onboard

SDU is behind ReRoPro, together with Aalborg University and University of Copenhagen who also are partners in the DIREC project. The project also includes two Danish industrial giants, Novo Nordisk and Rockwool, the robotics company Nordbo from the Funen robotics cluster and the Allerød based company Welltec. Odense Robotics and MADE are also partners.

The ambition is to create a structure for a database with the help of the companies. We aim to gather information from existing solutions in such a structure that makes it possible to reuse or be inspired by that data when creating their own solution, says the SDU professor.

Novo Nordisk and Rockwool are already on board, but the intention is to get even more companies involved, Norbert Krüger stresses. That’s why a conference is planned for 8 September, where he hopes many industrial companies will come forward.

– For a lot of companies, this kind of data is considered a company secret, so we need to find a way how they can learn from each other in a safe environment. At the same time, we want to know more about what companies need out in the field so that we can take that into our work, says Norbert Krüger.

Initially, the project will run until autumn. Still, the plan is to outline a plan and invite industry along – via the conference – so that funding can then be secured for a significant research project based on the initial work, which is starting now.

Read more about the conference
Read more about the project


  • ReRoPro (Re-Use of Robotic-data in Production through search, simulation, and learning).

  • A new DIREC project headed by SDU in Odense with Aalborg and Copenhagen Universities involved. The ambition is to include many companies and already now the two Danish industrial giants, Novo Nordisk and Rockwool, and the robotics company Nordbo from the Funen robotics cluster as well as Welltech from Allerød are on board. Odense Robotics and MADE are also partners.

  • The initial project, funded by Innovation Fund Denmark, is to establish a structure for the database within six months, after which the ambition is to follow up with a larger project building the actual database and storing big data.

  • On 8 September, a conference is planned to gather companies and potential partners to discuss the ambitions and needs of industry.

Previous events

International Workshop on Re-Using Robot Data

International Workshop on Re-Using Robot Data

We will discuss the needs of industry, current solutions and the scientific and technical challenges that are connected to the problem of an efficient re-use of robot data.

  • Do you want to make more out of your robot applications?
  • Do you want to predict failures of your system before they occur?
  • Do you want to use data in your production to improve quality inspection?
  • Are you tired of always starting from scratch when you establish new robot solutions?
  • Do you want to exploit information about trajectories, grippers and cameras from already existing robot set-ups to speed up the development of new robot solutions?
  • Do you want to apply already established control strategies by adapting those to a new problem?

Re-Using robot data is key to these challenges!

However, the potential of re-using robot data is not realized yet due to scientific, technical and IPR issues. The ReRoPro project, Re-Use of Robotic-data in Production through search, simulation and learning aims at addressing this problem.

We invite for tasks such as predictive maintenance, speeding-up the establishment of new assembly solutions and fine-tuning of critical components of your production.

At the workshop, we will discuss the needs of industry, current solutions and the scientific and technical challenges that are connected to the problem of an efficient re-use of robot data.

Find out how to make efficient use of your robot data!


9:30  Welcome with coffee and rolls in the lobby

10:00  Welcome and Introduction
Prof. Norbert Krüger, University of Southern Denmark, coordinator of the ReRoPro-project

10:15  Session 1: The ReRoPro Project

10:15   The i4.0 use case and current software solution       
Assoc. Prof. Aljaz Kramberger, University of Southern Denmark

10:30  Data sensitivity issues in data re-use
Prof. Mikkel Baun Kjærgaard, University of Southern Denmark

10:45   Differential simulators, digital twins & data (d^3)
Prof. Kenny Erleben, University of Copenhagen

11:00  Data-reuse in machine learning and planning
Assoc. Professor Andres Masegosa, Aalborg University and Assoc. Professor Alvaro Torralba, Aalborg University

11:15  Coffee Break

11:30  Session 2: Data-Re-Use in Industry and Science

11:30  Examples of industrial robot applications, where
data could have been re-used   
Prof. Henrik G. Petersen, University of Southern Denmark, MADE

11:50 The Danish robot ecosystem and the re-use of data
Project Manager Søren Adamsen Mouritzen, Odense Robotics

12:05  Paving the way for a Cambrian explosion in robotics: open knowledge services for robotics applications
Prof. Michael Beetz, University of Bremen

12:45  Lunchbreak

13:30  Session 3: Industrial perspectives

13:30  Data in Pharmaceutical Device Manufacturing
Senior Assembly Engineer, Roger de Reus, Novo Nordisk

13:45  Robots and Sensors in Surface Treatment Applications
Head of R&D Lars Kristian Feddersen, Nordbo Robotics

14:00  Re-use of data in CAM programming
Head of Production Bo Schmidt, WellTec and Head of Digital Integration CNC Thomas Hyllen, WellTec

14:15  Factory of the Future
Program Director Alex Severin, Rockwool

14:30  So we got big data – now what?
Chief Commercial Officer
Anders Meister, CIM.AS

14:50  Coffee Break

15:20  Toward a Knowledge-Based Data Backbone for Seamless Digital Engineering in Smart Factories
Dr. Markus Rickert, Technische Universität München

15.50  Round Table discussion

16:30  Concluding remarks

The workshop is organized by DIREC with MADE as a supporting partner and with support from DDSA (Danish Data Science Academy.

The event is held in collaboration with IDA Fremtidsteknologi. The participant list will be shared with IDA for statistical use only.