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KUKA Innovation Award 2023

The winners of the KUKA Innovation Award 2023 have been announced: The Italien research team JARVIS convinced the jury and won the popular innovation competition 2023. Learn more here!

The challenge

For the first time the KUKA Innovation Award was based on our newly introduced iiQKA robot operating system and the iiQKA ecosystem. This enabled the finalists 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.

In the same spirit we defined the motto for this year’s award: The Open Platform challenge. Applicants were asked to use the availability of open interfaces in iiQKA and to extend the robot system by their own hardware and software components in order to deal with typical tasks in production much faster and easier.

Meet our finalists

The Winner: Team JARVIS | Politecnico di Milano | Italy

The goal of the finalists of the Merlin Laboratory of the Italian Politecnico di Milano is to develop a complete plug-and-play method for programming collaborative robotic applications (e.g. assembly and packaging) that is fully integrated into the iiQKA ecosystem. This will facilitate their introduction in small and medium-sized enterprises. Together with the integration of artificial intelligence into the new iiQKA ecosystem, the concept enables unskilled operators to instruct the robot in a new task and to generalize in unknown situations, including new tasks and product variants.


Team SPIRIT | German Aerospace Center | Germany

The team from the Institute of Robotics and Mechatronics at the German Aerospace Center is working on the automation of maintenance and inspection tasks in the oil and gas industry. A single large refinery often requires more than 50,000 maintenance and inspection routines. To this end, a novel flying robot is being developed that is suspended from a cable and features advanced telepresence technology, combining state-of-the-art AI-based perception and control theory. This solution enables safe and intuitive operation of air manipulators for industrial applications.


Team Fashion & Robotics | University of Arts and Industrial Design Linz | Austria

The fashion and textile industry is under great pressure to reduce its environmental footprint by producing more durable, high-quality products and developing circular material flows. The “Creative Robotics” and “Fashion and Technology” departments at the University of Art and Design Linz are working on creating a way for small and medium-sized textile companies and designers to increase their production by setting up microfactories with collaborative robot systems, while simultaneously enabling more efficient sorting and finishing processes on an industrial scale.

Team Fashion & Robotics


The finalists got the chance to present and defend their concept to our jury members, consisting of renowned professors from robotics, experts from industry and an editor from a leading global engineering magazine. These contacts are often a springboard for further projects.

  • Evan Ackermann

    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.

  • Prof. Dr. Alin Albu-Schäffer

    Alin Albu-Schäffer received the M.S. in electrical engineering from the Technical University of Timisoara, Romania in 1993 and the Ph.D. in automatic control from the Technical University of Munich in 2002. Since 2012 he is the head of the Institute of Robotics and Mechatronics at the German Aerospace Center (DLR), which he joined in 1995. Moreover, he is a professor at the Technical University of Munich, holding the Chair for "Sensor Based Robotic Systems and Intelligent Assistance Systems". His research interests range from robot design and control to robot intelligence and human neuroscience. He centrally contributed to the development of the DLR-light-weight robot and its technology transfer to the KUKA company, leading to a paradigm shift in industrial robot applications towards light-weight, sensitive and interactive robotics. Alin Albu-Schäffer was as well strongly involved in the development of the MIRO surgical robot system and its commercialization through technology transfer to Covidien/Medtronic, the worldwide largest medical devices manufacturer. He is author of more than 270 peer reviewed journal and conference papers and received several awards.

  • Dr. Kristina Wagner

    Dr. Kristina Wagner received her PhD from RWTH Aachen University at the Institute for Number Theory and the Institute for Control Engineering. In 2008, Kristina Wagner spent a research stay at Melbourne University, and in 2010 she kicked off her career in technology and process consulting at Siemens AG in Munich.

    Since October 2015, Kristina Wagne has held various management positions at KUKA AG. As Vice President Corporate Research, she drives robotics innovation and technology development together with her team. In her additional role as Director RoX Program, she is responsible for KUKA's largest and key innovation program “RoX | The Robot X-perience” (product name: iiQKA) with the goal of redesigning and transforming KUKA's Robot Experience. As a result, the interaction between humans, tools and robots will be significantly improved.

    In 2021, Kristina Wagner was elected to the Board of euRobotics as well as to the digitalization board for the city of Augsburg.

  • 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.

  • 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.

About the KUKA Innovation Award

To help the teams turn their ideas into reality, KUKA has provided the finalists with the sensitive LBR iisy cobot free of charge for the duration of the competition, including free training and coaching during the contest. The final took place in Juny 2023 at the automatica trade show in Munich, where the finalists were able to present their concepts to a broad audience of experts from industry and research as well as the press, maked contacts and exchanged ideas. There, a jury of experts has selected the winner of the €20,000 award.

Impressions from the Award 2023

Innovation Award 2023 automatica trade fair Munich Juny 2023