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Co-Founder and CTO of Universal Robots Wins Engelberger Award

Esben Ostergaard

The Robotic Industries Association (RIA) has announced Esben Ostergaard, Co-Founder and Chief Technology Officer of Universal Robots, as the recipient of the Engelberger Robotics Award. Ostergaard spearheads the development of Universal Robots' collaborative robot (cobot) arms, which were first launched in 2008. The Engelberger Awards Dinner and Ceremony was held at the Hofbräuhaus in Munich, Germany, as part of Automatica and the International Symposium on Robotics.

RIA President Jeff Burnstein said, "Esben's work in the field of collaborative robot applications has allowed robots to enter previously unthinkable sectors in just about every industry. His emphasis on robots that work side-by-side with people and are easy to use has created enormous interest among many small- and medium-sized companies that had never considered robots before. In a world that is increasingly characterized by people and robots working together, Esben's pioneering technology advances play a pivotal role."

"I am deeply honored to win the award named after Joseph Engelberger, who revolutionized industrial manufacturing with robotics," said Ostergaard. "Engelberger's view that a robot should be able to handle a range of tasks in a factory aligns with Universal Robots' core mission, and I am a great admirer of his work."

Ostergaard also leads a team of developers who are the first to launch user-friendly yet sophisticated 3-D robot programming via an intuitive tablet interface. This has enabled users with no previous programming experience to quickly set up and operate the UR robots.

Ostergaard developed the robot's force and safety control features, which ensure that if the robot collides with a person, the robot automatically stops operating and does not cause bodily harm, adhering to the current safety requirements on force and torque limitations. These features have eliminated the need for safety guarding in the majority of UR robot applications currently installed.

"The term 'collaborative' does not only mean that humans can collaborate directly with the robots, potentially with no safety guarding between them," said Ostergaard. "The term also addresses ease of use. A robot is not truly collaborative if it is not affordable and easy to work with."

"We want to place control of factory automation back into the hands of operators," continued Engelberger. "Instead of replacing people, we want to give them a tool to do their work more efficiently. "We want to remove them from working like robots to becoming robot programmers and handling more value-added tasks. Doing this will perhaps be the best long-term result derived from leveraging collaborative robots." Ostergaard calls this new era the 5th Industrial Revolution. "This redeployment of human creativity, interspersed with the robot's repeatability, addresses the market evolvement and customer requirements demanding a high degree of product individualization. It is a qualitative change both in the products made and for the people making them."

For more information contact:

Universal Robots USA

5430 Data Court, Suite 300

Ann Arbor, MI


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