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Every year the leading players in the robotics industry come to HANNOVER MESSE to demonstrate the latest developments in human-robot collaboration. The ROBOTICS AWARD singles out ground-breaking innovations and is a major highlight for the entire automation sector. Worth a total of €10,000, the Award is being presented for the ninth time by HANNOVER MESSE together with the Robotation Academy and the trade journal Industrieanzeiger. The patron is Bernd Althusmann, Lower Saxony’s Minister for Economic Affairs, Labour and Transport. The award ceremony will take place under the umbrella of the Automation Forum in Hall 14 on Tuesday 2 April.

In the run-up to the 2019 ROBOTICS AWARD enterprises and institutions from Germany and abroad were invited to submit their robot solutions. As a precondition the entries must constitute a genuine technological step forward in the field of industrial automation, mobile robots and/or autonomous systems. The independent jury has meanwhile selected the three finalists:

forwardttc GmbH and KUKA AG have submitted a low-cost charging assistant for electric vehicles (both private and commercial). Still under development, this project is aimed at the world market, with special emphasis on Asia. The automatic charging process is initiated via a remote control or via an app. In terms of capacity the charger is compatible with all available passenger cars and small commercial vehicles and can be adapted to other innovative fuels (e.g. hydrogen). Thanks to its sophisticated safety concept (combining various drive systems), the charger boasts a reduced number of components. The jury has emphasized the diverse, forward-looking applications for this new charging solution.

MASKOR, the Institute for Mobile Autonomous Systems and Cognitive Robotics at Aachen University of Applied Sciences, has entered an autonomous field robot (“ETAROB”) for the 2019 ROBOTICS AWARD. Its function is to facilitate cost-effective weed management in vegetable production. On the basis of virtual training data the ETAS-B software recognizes individual plants. In contrast to systems that rely on programmed pathways, the ETAROB operates freely in an unstructured environment and automatically detects obstacles. The weeds are tackled selectively with the aid of electrical pulses (Zasso GmbH). As the weeds are removed at the root level, the ETAROB is much more effective than conventional mechanical systems. The hardware and the software have been developed in-house at the MASKOR Institute. The jury is confident that this disruptive technology will have an impact on the agricultural sector.

OnRobot A/S has submitted its Gecko Gripper, a new gripping system for lightweight robots launched in December 2018. This Danish company has modelled its product on structures that occur in the natural world – in the feet of certain types of reptile. Thousands of microscopically fine hairs create so-called Van der Waals forces when they come into contact with smooth surfaces. This results in strong adhesion, without the need for any external power source. The object is released simply by tilting the gripper. The jury has selected the Gecko Gripper because it embodies a completely new technology and, unlike conventional vacuum grippers, does not consume any energy.

The jury of the ROBOTICS AWARD comprises: Professor Alin Albu-Schäffer, Head of the Institute of Robotics and Mechatronics, German Aerospace Centre; Marc Brosig, Head of System Technologies, Volkswagen AG; Professor Norbert Elkmann, Head of the Robotic Systems Business Unit, Fraunhofer IFF; Werner Götz, Editor-in-Chief and Member of the Managing Board, Konradin Mediengruppe; Olaf Katzer, Head of Training and Career Development at Volkswagen AG and Managing Director of Technology and Technical Training at the Robotation Academy; Professor Tobias Ortmaier, Head of the Institute of Mechatronic Systems, Leibniz University Hannover; and Franz Vogt, Maintenance, SMP Deutschland GmbH.