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KUKA Innovation Award 2024

The finalists of the KUKA Innovation Award 2024 have been announced. Team Ricobb from Belgium wins the €20,000 prize with the development of a user-friendly cobot application platform.

LBR iisy in the craft sector

The goal of the KUKA Innovation Award 2024 was to bring collaborative automation for the people. For that reason the award was based on our recently introduced robot operating system and ecosystem iiQKA and our lightweight robot LBR iisy. This enables the robotics community to implement their own hardware and software extensions on a KUKA robot much easier than before, making a modern, powerful and scalable basis for technology innovation within robotics available. The overall aim was to develop innovative applications, enabling technology and software that help to transform and automate craft related use cases based on collaborative robotics.

Here are our three finalists

Winning team Ricobb | LVD Robotic Solutions bv + KU Leuven | Belgium

Ricobb empowers European small and medium-sized companies by providing a Reliable iisy Cobot Buddy in order to retrieve manufacturing industry out of low wage countries. That’s the ambitious goal of LVD Robotic Solutions and Acro research group! The concept focuses on the development of a user-friendly cobot application platform, tangible brought into practice for a bending process, supported by a broad end customer fan club. Intelligent robot programming by using easy modules, easy accessible and adaptable to the bending process (defined by the LVD press), including methods and building blocks for product families. Initiated for bending, but without ignoring the deployment of the solution for other related applications (sorting, deburring, …).

Team Ricobb
Team Ricobb

Team YANTRA | DLR/Reverie and NHDC | Germany/India

In countries like India, Japan, Indonesia etc., the consumer textiles sector is characterized by traditional craftsmanship in a Micro-Small-Medium scale Enterprise (MSME) setup, which is under pressure from non-customized manufacturing. Yantra is developing an iisy robot apprentice to assist with skilled tasks in sustainable handloom textiles within a microfactory setup to decrease production times, while preserving the creative aspect of the craft. Within the team, the members from the Institute of Robotics and Mechatronics at the German Aerospace Center (DLR) are working on collaborative robotics to provide customized robot programming, which will be augmented with a language-to-motion framework developed in collaboration with Reverie Language Technologies (RLT). The National Handloom Development Corporation (NHDC), India, will consult the project on the crafts processes.


Team Collaborative Deliciousness | University of Waterloo | Canada

The IISYest baker is the user friendly automated solution for small-medium artisanal bakeries based on iiQKA and the KUKA iisy robot. It will feature an intuitive user interface that bakers can easily use to replace the thousands of repetitive tasks that are currently done manually. The goal is to enhance production efficiency, reduce labor costs, provide scalability, and most importantly, ensure consistent product quality that is the same as artisan bakers'. This solution has the potential for a positive economic impact and can be easily implemented in different craft bakery settings.

Team Collaborative Deliciousness
Team Collaborative Deliciousness

Judges 2024

The international panel of judges consists of renowned professors, experts from industry and an editor from a leading global engineering magazine. This exchange and the contact are often the starting point for further projects and collaborations.

  • Evan Ackerman

    Evan Ackerman is a senior editor at IEEE Spectrum, where he has been writing about robots, science, and emerging technology for over 10 years. After co-founding his own robotics blog in 2007, he began writing for IEEE Spectrum in 2011. In addition to Spectrum, Evan’s work has appeared in a variety of other websites and print magazines, and you may have heard him talking about robots on NPR’s Science Friday or the BBC World Service if you were listening at just the right time. Evan currently lives in Washington DC, and a steadily growing collection of robot vacuums. In his spare time, he enjoys scuba diving, rehabilitating injured raptors, and playing bagpipes excellently.

  • Robert Falkenstein

    Robert Falkenstein is an Electrical Engineer and a Future Designer. With this combination of transferring technical know-how into the future to the right target groups, he has supported the Mittelstand-Digital Zentrum Handwerk since November 2021. As project manager at the “Schaufenster Bayreuth” department of the Chamber of Trades for Upper Franconia, he oversees robotics, IoT and AI. This includes running training courses on these topics for companies and consultants in the skilled trades sector, the provision of support for companies in the integration of technology – from process start through to commissioning – and informing trades service providers and system manufacturers about useful applications in the skilled trades sector. Thanks to the support of the Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Protection, these services are provided on a supplier-neutral basis and free of charge.
    He is also a lecturer for “Collaborative Robots” at the school for master precision mechanics, where he teaches up-and-coming master craftsmen cobot programming through practical application and trains these future company owners how to spot where automation and robotics can best be integrated into operations.
    As a result of his experiences, Robert Falkenstein places great importance on realistic applications that focus on the skilled trades and highlight solutions which deal effectively with problems experienced in more than 130 different trades.

  • Alfred Kailing

    Alfred Kailing studied Physics at the University of Würzburg, Environment and Process Engineering at the HAW Hamburg and Geoecology at the University of Bayreuth. After his studies, he was responsible for developing the contaminated sites registry at the Environment Office of the City of Augsburg. Following further positions as a parliamentary advisor to the state parliament of Baden-Württemberg and as an immission protection officer at the public utilities of the Municipality of Augsburg, as well as postgraduate studies in Energy Technology at the TU Berlin, he joined the Chamber of Trades as an advisor in 1992. In 1997, he took up a secondary appointment as Managing Director of the Environmental Technology Start-up Center (UTG) in Augsburg. Alfred Kailing has been deputy chief executive of the Swabian Chamber of Trades since 2018.

  • Prof. Oussama Khatib

    Oussama Khatib received his PhD from Sup’Aero, Toulouse, France, in 1980. He is Professor of Computer Science and Director of the Robotics Laboratory at Stanford University. His research focuses on methodologies and technologies in human-centered robotics, haptic interactions, artificial intelligence, human motion synthesis and animation. He is President of the International Foundation of Robotics Research (IFRR) and a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE). He is Editor of the Springer Tracts in Advanced Robotics (STAR) series, and the Springer Handbook of Robotics, awarded the American Publishers Award for Excellence in Physical Sciences and Mathematics. He is recipient of the IEEE Robotics and Automation (IEEE/RAS) Pioneering Award (for his fundamental contributions in robotics research, visionary leadership and life-long commitment to the field), the IEEE/RAS George Saridis Leadership Award, the Distinguished Service Award, the Japan Robot Association (JARA) Award, the Rudolf Kalman Award, and the IEEE Technical Field Award. Professor Khatib is a member of the National Academy of Engineering.

  • Prof. Dr. Ir. Stefano Stramigioli

    Stefano Stramigioli is professor of Advanced Robotics at the University of Twente and chair of the Robotics And Mechatronics (RAM) Lab, a large lab of more than fifty people working on all different aspects of imaging, mechatronics and robotics. The group is broad and multidisciplinary. Thanks to its size and spectrum, it is able to compete at the international level with other research groups of similar or bigger sizes in their field.
    Stramigioli covers a number of additional external positions: He has been the founder of the first robotics center in the Netherlands LEO Center of Service Robotics (2008), (formerly known as Romech). He was also founder of RoboNED (2010), which is now transitioned to Holland Robotics. Furthermore, he currently serves a second term as Vice President Research of euRobotics, representing the private part of SPARC, the contractual PPP with the European Commission running the biggest Civil robotic program worldwide for the last years. He is also co-chairing the Bio-mechatronics and Energy-Efficient Robotics Lab at ITMO University, St.Petersburg, Russia.

  • Volker Schmirgel

    During his career at KUKA, Volker Schmirgel has been responsible for various research and development activities in the field of robotics. After completing his studies in electrical engineering, specialising in robotics, at RWTH Aachen University, Volker Schmirgel began his career at KUKA in 2006. For more than five years, he worked on and headed various research projects in KUKA's Corporate Research department. He was then responsible for the market launch of the first collaborative robot "LBR iiwa" in close collaboration with R&D. From 2016, his focus was on the development of software and hardware for a new human-robot collaboration (HRC) robot system. This work resulted in the KUKA LBR iisy and later in the KUKA LBR iisy product family.
    Volker Schmirgel has headed KUKA's Technology and Innovation Centre (TIC) since October 2023.

  • Zlatina Deggendorfer

    Zlatina Deggendorfer received her degree in Applied Computer Science/Business Administration from the University of Augsburg in 2007.
    She then began her career as a software developer at various international companies and has been head of product management in the Applications division at KUKA since 2020.

    Together with her team, she is responsible for a broad, powerful portfolio of application software in the areas of handling,
    welding, vision and sensor technology, which can be used and expanded quickly and easily by KUKA customers and partners.