IFR press release

Björn Weichbrodt passed away

The robotics community lost a pioneer

Björn Weichbrodt at ABB booth at Automate 2013The IFR community is very sad about Björn Weichbrodt's passing away on 12 October in Stockholm. Björn was General Secretary of the IFR from 1994 to 2002. Since 2003 he has been delegate of the Swedish Robot Association SWIRA in the IFR General Assembly. Björn Weichbrodt was a pioneer of the robotics technology. He and his team at ABB developed the first electric robot in the early seventies, a milestone in the history of robots. He won the Joseph Engelberger Award, the world's most prestigious robotics honor, in 1988.

"The international robotics community has lost a leader and true professional.  I recall working with Björn as he directed the operations of the IFR, and will always remember his strategic business approach to the issues. His talent for seeing the big picture and the impact of his decisions was remarkable. It is important to remember Björn Weichbrodt as an industry pioneer and long-time supporter of the IFR. I will miss his friendly smile and warm handshake," remembered Donald A. Vincent, Executive Vice President-Emeritus, Robotic Industries Association (USA).

Åke Lindqvist, President of the IFR from 2008 to 2011 said: "It is with great sadness I learned about Björn's passing." He has known Björn Weichbrodt since many years also as a colleague at ABB. He remembered about him very personally:
"Björn, You inspired me to a career in Robotics. I may even say I have humbly tried to follow in Your footsteps, even though far behind. I have had the privilege to work for You from Sweden and USA and with You in IFR. Your entrepreneurial spirit and leadership over the years has always been a leading pool star for me.
I had these words for you in a speech in Chicago a couple of years ago.  But you missed the plane and the speech so I do repeat them now. I am profoundly grateful for having had the opportunity to be a member of your team.
Your friend and colleague, Åke Lindqvist."

"It is a big pity to miss him. I remember him well as a very refined and elegant gentleman as IFR general secretary. He made a surely important contribution to IFR history. It was a also surprise to me that he was an excellent robot engineer with world first electrical articulated robot at that time. We all miss him deeply", said Jong-Oh Park, Member of the IFR Executive Board.

Alexander Verl, Chairman IFR Research Committee: "The sad news that Björn Weichbrodt passed away last week left me thinking that the automation world has lost one of its great driving minds. Developer of the first commercial electric robot, Björn has set a standard by which we still work to this day. Myself, as a robotics enthusiast, past entrepreneur and current professor, always thought of him as a leading example when it comes to innovation and invention in the field of process automation and robotics. Björn Weichbrodt was always highly regarded and will be missed at the Fraunhofer IPA, especially because he was bound to this institute by a cordial relationship with our former Director, Rolf Dieter Schraft."

Arturo Baroncelli, IFR Vice President: "We met him at the Automate in Chicago in January 2013 for the last time, and he was, as usual, very curious and interested in all the recent developments.
Robotics has lost a great innovator and IFR a great friend."