KUKA launched its research competition in 2014 with the aim of boosting innovation in the field of robot-supported automation and promoting technology transfer from research to industry. Developers, graduates and research teams from universities and companies alike can take part by developing ideas in response to a challenge set up by KUKA. The finalists are selected by a panel of experts, and put their projects into practice using KUKA hardware. For the current round of the innovation competition, the focus is on interaction between robots and a complex, non-industrial environment where humans are center stage.
"KUKA has selected a very forward-looking topic, as service robotics is growing in importance," explains Dr. Bernd Liepert, Chief Innovation Officer at KUKA AG and patron of the competition. Some 30 teams from all over the world entered the contest with proposals for tackling challenges in service robotics and other fields. The five teams selected as finalists stood out for their exceptionally creative robotics ideas. The University of Alberta team, for instance, has developed a process to allow robots to interact with humans even in unstructured environments. Meanwhile, researchers from the University of Stuttgart want to use a collaborative robotic workbench with an augmented reality interface to make robot-supported work attractive for medium-sized companies, and experts from the Italian Institute of Technology want to build a robot that adapts to humans in industrial processes and thus helps to avoid injury. The DynaMap team from the United States is aiming to use neural networks to position robots and help them to interact with objects in space. Last but not least, scientists at the University of Pennsylvania want to use sensors and stereoscopic cameras to teach robots to handle vessels containing liquid. At the finale at HANNOVER MESSE 2018 in April next year, visitors will have the chance to experience the future of robotics for themselves.
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