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KUKA Innovatin Award presented

Augsburg/Munich, 4 June 2014 – The winner of the first KUKA Innovation Award for developments in the field of mobile manipulation has been chosen: the research group “Robotics and Perception” of the University of Zurich.

4 June 2014

An international panel of judges selected the Swiss team from more than 30 contestants competing for the 20,000 euro award. The official award ceremony was held today at the KUKA booth at AUTOMATICA – the flagship international trade fair for robotics and automation. The winning team impressed the panel with its application “Cooperative airground robotics: Removing obstacles in the way – search and rescue missions”. This application involves the cooperation of a quadcopter with a KUKA youBot moving along the ground. The quadcopter, equipped with a camera, autonomously flies around a defined area, generates a map and provides the acquired data to the youBot. This enables the ground-based youBot to reach its destination quickly in order to provide assistance, for example, in a disaster zone.
The award goes to a Swiss research team


Throughout the week of the trade fair, all four finalists of the KUKA Innovation Award presented their applications every hour to AUTOMATICA visitors in Hall A4. In addition to the project of the winning team from Switzerland, three other interesting developments were on show. The Tele-youBot team from Nazarbayev University in Kazakhstan presented “Teleoperation of a mobile robot manipulator using inertial motion tracking and gesture recognition”. The SCORPION team from the Università Politecnico di Milano presented “Self-control of mobile robots for productive industrial operations”, while the German NTH team from the Institutes of Technology of Lower Saxony demonstrated an Industry 4.0 scenario with the title “Self-organized transportation of work pieces in industrial environments”. “We are delighted that our finalists were able to present their exciting projects at such an important trade fair”, said Dr. Bernd Liepert, Chief Technology Officer at KUKA.


KUKA set up the Innovation Award to optimize the preparation of technology transfer from science to industry. This year, the contestants had the task of demonstrating a robotic application in the field of mobile manipulation in a realistic working environment. In order to ensure identical conditions and thus enable a fair comparison between the participants, the application was to be shown on or with a KUKA youBot. 
The KUKA youBot is a mobile manipulator with an omnidirectional base on which a five-axis robot arm with a two-finger gripper is installed. Instead of a proprietary controller, it is equipped with a powerful PC board and an EtherCAT-based interface to the electronic drive system. It also has open interfaces and is controlled using open-source software. “We developed the KUKA youBot with these properties to allow maximum flexibility for research and teaching purposes, but also for application development for the factory of the future”, explained Dr. Rainer Bischoff, Head of Technology Development for the KUKA Group. “It is an experimental platform that can be used for testing and implementing user-specific controllers and application ideas.” It is thus possible to develop, in miniature, concepts that could be utilized in the factories of the future.