Europe’s largest testbed for distributed manufacturing launched by CIIRC and DFKI

Bild der Pressemitteilung

On 28 April 2022, the largest decentralized German-Czech testbed for distributed production in the paradigm of Industry 4.0 was inaugurated at the Czech Institute of Informatics, Robotics and Cybernetics of the Czech Technical University in Prague (CIIRC CTU). On this occasion, in the presence of government representatives, two further cooperation agreements were signed with the German Fraunhofer IWU and the Czech VŠB-TUO University in Ostrava.

The Czech-German RICAIP center is the largest project in Europe in the field of Industrial Artificial Intelligence for Industry 4.0, jointly funded by the European Union, the Czech Ministry of Education and the BMBF with start-up funding of over EUR 50 million.

The German scientist Dr. Tilman Becker is the director of Prague-based RICAIP; Dr. Becker spent more than 25 years researching AI topics at the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence in Saarbrücken before moving to the Czech Republic.

The two connected testbeds for Industry 4.0 in Prague and in Saarbrücken form the core of the RICAIP network of experimental production sites. In Saarbrücken, the joint Power4Production center of DFKI and ZeMA (Center for Mechatronics and Automation Technology) on 3000 square meters is the largest German node, which is also connected to the SmartFactory-KL at DFKI Kaiserslautern. The Czech universities in Brno and Ostrava and the FhG Institute IWU in Dresden are establishing additional interoperable testbeds as RICAIP partners. Together, these six connected testbeds form the basis of a robust European research infrastructure for the further development of distributed manufacturing in the paradigm of Industry 4.0, which is unique in Europe.

In the presence of the Czech Minister of Science, Research and Innovation Ms. Helena Langsálová and the German Ambassador in Prague Andreas Künne, the opening ribbon was cut for the new phase of the distributed testbed infrastructure.

So far, the use of the distributed testbed has focused mainly on collaborations with the automotive and aerospace industries, in addition to application-oriented basic research.

The opening ceremony in Prague was also attended by Professor Wolfgang Wahlster, who first publicly introduced the concept of “Industry 4.0” in his address at the opening of Hannover Messe in 2011.  Wahlster said:

“As Chairman of CIIRC’s Scientific Advisory Board, I was extremely impressed by the unanimous vote of the Advisory Board’s international experts from Japan, the US, UK, Austria, Australia, and France, who among others represent global companies such as Ford, Rockwell and Airbus, which confirmed not only the scientific excellence of the consortium but also the global uniqueness of the RICAIP alliance and its great benefit for the next decade of Industrie 4.0.”

CIIRC Scientific Director and RICAIP Board Member, Prof. Vladimír Mařík, added: “The Testbed provides a real environment for research at the European level, but it also offers solutions or research services directly intended for Czech companies. We are thus able to cover the entire innovation cycle, from testing scientific theories to transferring new technologies and processes to industry.”

The Czech Republic and Germany already have a combined 5700 square meters of hall floors with the latest types of robots, including collaborative and mobile robots, 3D printers, machine tools, 5G campus networks and machines for additive manufacturing using various materials. All devices are connected via IoT platforms, edge clouds and industrial cloud systems, and have access to the latest AI technologies such as machine learning and agent systems for active digital twins.

“RICAIP and the testbed are very concrete examples of effective Czech-German scientific and industrial cooperation. The versatility is important – we participate in large research tasks in the field of artificial intelligence, but we also provide services for small and medium-sized enterprises in their transformation towards digitalization and automation,” explained RICAIP Director Dr. Tilman Becker.


RICAIP – Research and Innovation Center on Advanced Industrial Production – is a newly established international center of excellence for distributed research (CoE) based on a strategic partnership of four leading Czech and German research institutions. Founding partners are CIIRC CTU together with CEITEC BUT in Brno, DFKI (German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence) and ZeMA (Center for Mechatronics and Automation Technology) based in Saarbrücken. RICAIP focuses on research in artificial intelligence, machine learning and robotics for advanced industries and develops new production concepts for geographically distributed production and production as a service. The center will connect testbeds in Prague, Brno, Ostrava, and Saarbrücken, Kaiserslautern and Dresden, and will enable rapid adaptation of production to current customer needs or available production resources.

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