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Presentation of the third KUKA Innovation Award

Augsburg/Hanover, 26th of April 2016 - Award for outstanding robot innovations: The Augsburg-based automation specialist KUKA will be presenting the coveted Innovation Award to researchers at Hannover Messe for the third time.

26 April, 2016

Dr. Bernd Liepert, KUKA Chief Innovation Officer, will award the 20,000-euro prize on 28 April at 10 a.m. Throughout the trade fair, the six finalists will present their results on the topic of “flexible manufacturing” in Hall 17 directly next to the KUKA booth, and, at the end, a jury of experts will crown the winner of the competition. 

“The participants will be presenting in front of a large, international specialist audience at the largest industrial trade fair in the world and showing what they can do with our robots,” says Dr. Rainer Bischoff, Head of KUKA Corporate Research. At the end of October, an international jury of experts already selected the six best teams from the 25 applications sent in from all over the world. The finalists had half a year to implement their exciting projects using KUKA technologies. 

This year, the applicants were asked to use the KUKA flexFELLOW as a basis for developing an intelligent and universally applicable helper for production that could support workers in their daily activities. The flexFELLOW is a mobile platform on which a sensitive KUKA LBR iiwa lightweight robot is installed. The platform can be manually moved to its place of use and put into operation there extremely quickly.

The 2016 finalists

  • Belgian researchers from the University of Leuven have specialized in flexible manipulation skills for innovative and safe human-robot collaboration.
  • MRK Systeme GmbH in Augsburg will use the LBR iiwa and flexFELLOW to demonstrate safe gripping out of a box and the handling of heavy parts. 
  • Scientists from RTWH Aachen University will be demonstrating a dynamic and interactive robotic assistant for innovative applications in the con-struction sector.
  • John Hopkins University in the United States has been developing an intelligent production assistant for the manufacturing of large numbers of variants.
  • A research group from the Brandenburg University of Technology Cottbus-Senftenberg is developing functions for easy programming and robust assembly solutions based on image processing.
  • The sixth finalist from TU Dresden will be demonstrating innovative methods of interaction between the user and the robot based on wearables.

The history of the KUKA Innovation Award

With the research prize, KUKA is encouraging innovations as well as the transfer of technologies into industry. For many years now, KUKA has been working closely with partners from around the globe at universities and in the fields of research and development. The KUKA Innovation Award includes a 20,000-euro prize and was first awarded at AUTOMATICA 2014. The finalists receive free access to the latest robot systems from KUKA and present their results at the most important industrial trade fairs.  

The winners in past years

At Hannover Messe 2015, the award went to the Italian research team from the Biorobotics Institute of Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna in Pisa. In the application, a human moved the lightweight robot LBR iiwa like their own arm, using the sen-sorized exoskeleton capable of detecting the shoulder and elbow joint angles. The exoskeleton’s motors provided force feedback of the interaction of the LBR iiwa with its environment. This can, among other things, be applied to applications in rehabilitation treatment. 

At AUTOMATICA 2014, the application from the victorious “Robotics & Perception” research team from the University of Zurich demonstrated the cooperation of a quadcopter with a KUKA youBot moving along the ground. The youBot is a robot mounted on a mobile platform that can be moved in any direction at any time. The quadcopter, equipped with a camera, autonomously flew around a defined area, generated a map of it and transferred the information to the youBot. This system enables the ground-based youBot to reach its destination quickly in order to provide assistance, for example in a disaster zone.