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Yesterday we (the HCI lab in Stuttgart) were invited to visit the ARENA2036 next to our lab on the university campus in Stuttgart Vaihingen. Here, I want to say a big thanks to our host, Matthias Mögerle from ThingOS, who invited me and gave us a great look into the ARENA2036 and how how they bridge the two worlds of academia and industry.

One exciting aspect of the ARENA2036 is that all big tech companies from the bigger region of Stuttgart are joined under one roof and are working closely together. Here, to name a few, we see companies like Daimler, Bosch, HP, Simens, or Trumpf. Thus, big companies which bring in lots of know-how but still are willing to collaborate for a greater vision. On the other hand, the ARENA2036 also is also the host for a number of smaller startups like ThingOS our host. Together, they work on the vision of a flexible production line which can restructure to produce new products within hours instant of weeks and months which we usually see in today’s production plans.

This vision is not easy to accomplish. Here, the big players bet on new innovations young startups which often emerged out of projects from the university. For me, this was extremely interesting to see as these startups directly apply the latest research. Coming from an academic research institution we often fail to deploy our research into products. As we, after publishing the project as a paper, are done with the research part, but actually to deploy our ideas, there is still a long way to go before the outcome is a ready-to-use product for everyday life.

The current status of the projects we saw was the first implementation of parts of a future flexible production plant. The first building blocks worked well together, indoor localization and precise positioning for all the flexible building blocks which are leading up to one production line. Moreover, we saw all different building blocks connected and talking to each other even though they were built and operated by different companies and startups. Thus, the first essential steps have already been done, and the dream of a truly flexible production line will become true within the next month and years.

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