AI and robotics: These are the five best ideas of the KUKA Innovation Award 2021

Artificial intelligence is changing our everyday lives and industrial production. This year, the renowned KUKA Innovation Award is also focusing on this megatrend. Teams from all over the world presented their ideas to the international jury for the “Artificial Intelligence Challenge” – from reaching blindly into a pocket to new possibilities for working remotely.

Feeling for the right object in a bag, finding one’s way in a chaotic environment: What seems child’s play for us humans is often an insurmountable hurdle for robots. AI methods enable robots to interact with the real world – and thus offer countless options for assisting humans. Self-learning systems reduce the amount of programming required, making it possible to open up new tasks and areas of application.

“At KUKA, we are looking very closely at the new perspectives offered by artificial intelligence and machine learning. That’s why our innovation competition this year is also focusing on the AI megatrend for the first time,” said Dr. Kristina Wagner, Vice President Corporate Research. “And we received outstanding concepts from all over the world.”

Five teams were particularly convincing to the Innovation Contest jury:

Team ARAS, Brandenburg University of Technology Cottbus-Senftenberg, Germany, with their concept of intelligent robot programming based on manual manufacturing sequences.

Team BlindGrasp IISc & MIT, India and USA. Their goal is to have robots explore, recognize and grasp objects in an unseen environment by using the sense of touch.

Team Chorrobot from Belgium’s Katholieke Universiteit Leuven Flanders Make@KU Leuven aims to use AI to increase the productivity of automotive manufacturers and small and medium enterprises by facilitating and accelerating the use of two-handed robot manipulation tasks.

Team CHRIS, A*STAR Institute for Infocomm Research (I²R), Singapore, with a programming-free AI approach that enables more natural and safer human-robot collaboration.

Team CRC, Chair for Individualized Production RWTH Aachen, Germany, integrates automation technology into online collaboration.

Curious? Here is a detailed description of the concepts of the five final teams.

Here’s what happens next

To help them realize their ideas, KUKA is providing the finalists with a sensitive lightweight robot LBR iiwa and a 3D vision sensor from Roboception free of charge. They will also receive training and coaching from KUKA experts throughout the competition.

The five final teams have until the virtual Hannover Messe to implement their concepts. They will present their applications to an international audience of experts at HM Digital Edition from April 12 to 16, 2021. The jury will then select the winner of the €20,000 prize during the trade fair.

We are curious to see which team will win the “Artificial Intelligence Challenge”.

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