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March 2015

Flexible Autonomous Navigation for Industrial Shop Floor Wins euRobotics Technology Transfer Award 2015

Brussels, 20 March 2015 – THE 12th euRobotics Technology Transfer Award was presented during the European Robotics Forum (11-13 March 2015) in Vienna, Austria.  This year, the winner was “Flexible Autonomous Navigation for Industrial Shop Floor”, an autonomously navigating heavy-load platform, highly accurate and scalable with flexible navigation system.  The system provides improved flexibility compared to alternative techniques and is a product of collaborations between researchers of the University of Freiburg and the industrial partner KUKA Roboter GmbH in Augsburg.

The roboticists who gathered in Vienna, Austria, heard presentations from three selected finalists during the first day of the conference.  The prize was announced by Martin Hägele, the coordinator of the award and the head of the Robot and Assistive Systems division of the Fraunhofer IPA, at a special lunch on the last day of the Forum.  Martin Hägele thanked all finalists for their participation, plus EUnited Robotics, the European robotics industry association, for sponsoring the award totalling € 6000 in addition to certificates. 

About the Flexible Autonomous Navigation for Industrial Shop Floor Applications:

In the context of the worldwide challenges of globalization and raising customer expectations towards personalized, high quality products, flexible industrial automation is widely regarded as a key technology.  State-of-the-art systems in industrial automation, logistics and manipulation typically lack flexibility.  For instance, automated vehicles mainly rely on additional infrastructure like beacons, guidance wires, reflective markers, visual landmarks or even guide rails to follow their routes through the environment. 

The award-winning cooperative research and development between KUKA and the Autonomous Intelligent Systems Group (AIS) of the University of Freiburg led to several innovations in effectively operating autonomously guided vehicles (AGV).  “The Flexible Autonomous Navigation for Industrial Shop Floor Applications” is a software system to support highly accurate navigation in large scale environments which is scalable for different kinds of mobile platform kinematics, and which can be flexibly configured for different navigation sensors.  It is capable to fully exploit the maneuvering capabilities of omnidirectional robots (robots that move in any direction in the plane) and can exhibit different levels of autonomy. One of the software’s applications is the KUKA omniMove line of AGVs which are used for heavy load transport such as airplane components or aluminum sheets. In addition, vehicles can detect and track each other using their laser range finders and are able to couple autonomously to form a larger vehicle suited for up to 60 tons of payload to precisely transport entire airplane fuselages.

This autonomous navigation system was launched in November 2014 and has already two customers, one in the aerospace industry and one in the general industry sector.  Patrick Schwarzkopf, director of EUnited Robotics, mentioned “Technology transfer resulting in innovation and products used in the commercial sector is the core of our economy. That’s why our members sponsor this distinguished award.” 

The second prize went to “BoniRob - Autonomous Mobile Platform for Agricultural Applications”, by University of Applied Sciences Osnabrück, Deepfield robotics (a start-up of Robert Bosch GmbH), and Amazonen Werke H. Dreyer GmbH Co.KG.  BoniRob is a multipurpose platform that enables a complete redefinition of agricultural tasks.  The platform can drive and navigate around fields autonomously, it can drive over fields with various configurations, and it can accommodate a large number of apps, such as precision spraying, weeding, soil compaction estimation and phenotyping. 

The third finalist of the euRobotics Technology Transfer Award 2015, and the winner of the third prize, was “Vibro Tac - The Tactile Access to the World”, by DLR (German Aerospace Centre) and Sensodrive. 

The euRobotics Technology Transfer Award is presented each year in recognition of outstanding innovations in the field of robotics and automation, in order to promote excellence in applied research, and technology transfer between research and industry. 

The award is supported by EUnited Robotics, the European Robotics Association, and is financially sponsored by the following industrial members: ABB, KUKA Roboter, COMAU, Güdel, and SCHUNK.


Jury members: 

-        Dr. Nicola Tomatis, Bluebotics, Switzerland
-        Patrick Schwarzkopf, EUnited Robotics, Belgium
-        Martin Hägele, Fraunhofer IPA, Germany
-        Dr. Rainer Bischoff, KUKA, Germany
-        Prof. Herman Bruyninckx, KU Leuven, The Netherlands
-        Dr. Georg von Wichert, Siemens AG, Germany



Fariba Khatami
EUnited Robotics
Tel: +32 2706 82 22

EUnited Robotics, European Robotics Association, was founded in 2004 by major European robot manufacturers. EUnited Robotics serves as a platform for manufacturers, component suppliers, and system integrators of robotics in Europe, creating a network of industry leaders. EUnited Robotics is the robotics industries’ voice in Europe, representing the robot suppliers’ view on industry relevant issues and R&D&I policies. The association is also a cooperation platform among all robotics stakeholders – from research institutes to national associations and customers. 

:  ABB (Sweden), Bluebotics (Switzerland), COMAU (Italy), F&P Personal Robotics (Switzerland), Güdel (Switzerland), ISRA Vision (Germany), KUKA Roboter (Germany), Reis Robotics (Germany), SCHUNK (Germany), and Spinea (Slovakia). 

Cooperation partners:
 Fraunhofer IPA (Germany) and Technische Universität München (Germany).


Source:  KUKA
Source:  KUKA
Automation in logistics of screws using KMR iiwa

From left to right:  Christoph Bick, Till Reuter (CEO of KUKA), and German Chancellor Angela Merkel

Source:  KUKA 
From left to right: Susanne Bieller (EUnited Robotics), finalists of the euRobotics Technology Transfer Award 2015, Martin Hägele (Fraunhofer IPA)
   EUnited Robotics logo

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