IFR press release

IERA Award 2010 presented in Munich

Alexander Verl - recipient of the Award

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Alexander Verl and Åke Lindqvist

On 8 June during the Gala Dinner of the  International Symposium on Robotics ISR 2010 in conjunction with the German Conference on Robotics ROBOTIK 2010,  the IERA Award was presented to Univ.-Prof. Dr.-Ing. Alexander Verl, Fraunhofer IPA for his project "Inline Measurement Robots - Robots Get the Precision for Car Body Inspection".

The IEEE Robotics and Automation Society (IEEE RAS) and the International Federation of Robotics (IFR) jointly sponsor the Invention & Entrepreneurship Award (IERA Award). The purpose of this award is to highlight and honour the achievements of the inventors with value creating ideas and entrepreneurs who propel those ideas into world-class products.


Innovative robot based measurement technology for car bodies

Inspection by industry robots has emerged as a new application for industrial robots in the last 10 years. Until this innovation, car bodies were inspected on-line with arrays of laser sensors fixed in position over the production line. Using a robot to manipulate the same type of sensor gives more flexibility in the areas of the car to be measured and also reduces the number of sensors needed. Since standard industrial robots are only accurate to approximately 0.5mm they have long been considered as unusable for these measurement tasks. The flexible in-line measurement system (FIMS) therefore works with model-based error correction that determines kinematic errors such as arm length, joint offsets, backlash, compliance, twist angles and the like within the manufacturing process. This remarkable feature of FIMS is primarily realized by a thermally stable reference device: a carbon fibre sphere. Most major car companies have introduced applications of FIMS to date.

Started in 1997 AMATEC has grown to a 60 employee company with 7 million ? in turnover, installing several hundred robots to date. The market leader in measurement robotics was taken over by KUKA Roboter GmbH in 2005 when Alexander Verl was appointed as a professor at the University of Stuttgart. Since 2006 Alexander Verl is also the head of Fraunhofer IPA. He is still a leading researcher in the area of robotics, sensor systems and calibration.


Six Finalists nominated

For the final session six candidates from industry and science have been qualified:

Ekkehard Zwicker, ALSTOM Inspection Robotics and Roland Moser, ALSTOM
"Highly Compact Mobile Robots for Process and Power Facility Inspections"

Univ.-Prof. Dr.-Ing. Alexander Verl, Fraunhofer IPA
"Inline Measurement Robots - Robots Get the Precision for Car Body Inspection"

Ralph and Beth Hollis, Butterfly Haptics, LLC
"Magnetic Levitation Haptic Interfaces"

Pierre Pinet, RMT Robotics
"ADAMTM - Autonomous Delivery and Manipulation"

Dr. Gunter Börner, Heinz Gerteiser and Martin Klinke, ABB Automation GmbH
"Portal for the Robotic Surface Treatment of Rotor Blades"

Bernd Liepert, KUKA Roboter GmbH; Prof. Dr. Gerd Hirzinger, DLR
"The KUKA-DLR Lightweight Robot - an innovation for robotics research, manufacturing and new applications"

The finalists presented their innovations in a special session of the ISR at the automation trade fair AUTOMATICA in Munich. The high quality of the applications made the decision for the judges not an easy one. IFR President, Åke Lindqvist, recognized the outstanding achievements of each finalist at the ISR Gala Dinner.

A certificate was awarded to each finalist, and a prestigious plaque and US$ 2,000 prize to the winner. Next year the IERA Award presentation will be at the ICRA Conference 9 to 13 May 2011 in Shanghai.