KUKA Innovation Award

Winning team awarded with prize

The winners of the KUKA Innovation Award 2017 have been announced: The three members of the project team RAS have convinced the jury with a new type of airbag system. On April 24, 2017 they received the prize of 20,000 euros at the Hannover Messe. In the run-up, researchers from all over the world were called upon to submit their concepts on "Advanced Mechatronics" to KUKA's science competition. The teams had time until April to implement their concepts with KUKA hardware and then present them to a keen audience at Hannover Messe 2017.


The research team from the German Aerospace Center DLR consists of three scientists experienced in robotic systems for many years. It is vying for the Innovation Award with an airbag system for safe human-robot collaboration. Similar to an airbag in a car the module fills with pressured air during the robots motion, covering mounted tools and carried workpieces.

The winners from German Aerospace Center DLR: Team RAS.

Videos: Winners and finalists of the KUKA Innovation Award 2017

Get to know the winners and all the finalists of the KUKA Innovation Award 2017 in this video playlist.

All finalists of the KUKA Innovation Award 2017 at a glance

Advanced Robotic Finishing

The project group from the University of Southern California consists of graduate students and staff from the Center for Advanced Manufacturing. They are working on the automation of finishing processes such as deburring, grinding or polishing. Using automatic algorithms for workpiece detection and path planning, the team aims to make the machining of small batch sizes more cost-efficient.

The team from University of Southern California

Team Tele-MAGMaS

The international research team led by LAAR-CNRS in Toulouse (a lab of the French National Center for Scientific Research), with members from the University of Siena, Seoul National University and CNRS at the research center IRISA in Rennes, is addressing search and rescue operations in regions which are difficult to access or dangerous following disasters. By means of robots victims can be rescued. For this, they use stationary and flying robots which collaboratively carry and position objects.
Members of the Tele-MAGMaS international research team led by LAAS-CNRS, which includes University of Siena, Seoul National University, and CNRS at IRISA


With its project, the team from the Italian Istituto Di Tecnologie Industriali E Automazione is seeking a human-robot collaboration solution for the assembly of heavy parts in the aerospace industry. Advanced guidance control schemas are developed, together with virtual features to guide the assembly execution. First and foremost, the goal is to relieve production employees of physically strenuous work.

The research team MACHAMP from Italian Istituto Di Tecnologie Industriali E Automazione.


The Swiss researchers from the École polytechnique fédérale in Lausanne are demonstrating their concept for two robots that cooperate with each other and collaborate with the human operator – for example, to move heavy parts such as car doors without the risk of a collision and to support the human operator in positioning these parts correctly.

Finalist MANCHU from Switzerland.

KUKA Innovation Award 2017 - the challenge

The focus is on a versatile system design which contains innovative software and hardware components applicable beyond one specific use case.

Applicants for the Award have to demonstrate an innovative robotic application targeting the topic Advanced Mechatronics. Demonstrations should make use of the provided mechatronic systems and enhance them e.g. with new mechatronic solutions for peripherals such as grippers, new algorithms for control, e.g., vision-based grasping, new types of human-robot interaction and collaboration as well as new ways of robot-robot cooperation.

KUKA offers the finalist teams a free-of-charge LBR iiwa mounted on a flexFellow carrier as well as an optional stereo vision sensor for the duration of the competition.

About the KUKA Innovation Award

KUKA launched the research competition in 2014 to promote innovation in the field of robot-based automation and to support technology transfer from science to industry. It is aimed at developers, graduates and research teams from companies or universities. The participants develop ideas for tackling challenges specified by KUKA. A jury of experts selects the finalists from all of the entries submitted.

The best teams implement their projects using KUKA hardware and present the results to wide-ranging specialist audiences at major trade fairs. The winners receive a monetary prize of 20,000 euro. The award was first presented at AUTOMATICA 2014.

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