Hall of Fame 2021

The speakers of the munich_i Hightech Summit 2021

23 industry and business experts made the first munich_i Hightech Summit a top-level knowledge event. Speakers who presented their ideas and visions here included Dr. Reinhard Ploss, CEO Infineon Technologies AG; Dr. Hannes Ametsreiter, CEO Vodafone, and Prof. Dr.-Ing. Jürgen Grotepass, CSO Huawei Technologies Düsseldorf.

Find out who was at the Hightech Summit 2022 here.

Dr Hannes Ametsreiter (born 1967) has been CEO of Vodafone Germany and member of the global Vodafone Group’s Executive Committee since 1 October 2015. Born in Salzburg, the reputed telecommunications manager has more than 20 years of telecoms experience in convergent markets and outstanding expertise in marketing and brand management. He played an instrumental role in positioning Vodafone as a gigabit company and restoring growth by introducing increasingly fast speeds, convergent solutions and attractive products that integrate mobile, fixed, internet and TV. Before joining Vodafone, Dr Ametsreiter served for 6 years as Chairman of the Management Board and Chief Executive Officer of the Telekom Austria Group, and was also CEO of A1 Telekom, a company created through the merger of Mobilkom Austria AG and Telekom Austria TA AG. He also has longstanding experience in corporate finance.The Vodafone Germany CEO is married with two daughters.

Antonio Bicchi is a scientist interested in robotics and intelligent machines. After graduating in Pisa and receiving a Ph.D. from the University of Bologna, he spent a few years at the MIT AI Lab of Cambridge before taking the first chair in Robotics at the University of Pisa. In 2009 he founded the Soft Robotics Laboratory at the Italian Institute of Technology a Genova, which he still leads. Since 2013 he is Adjunct Professor at Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ. His work has been recognized with many international awards and has earned him four prestigious grants from the European Research Council (ERC). He launched initiatives such as the WorldHaptics conference series (the major conference on natural and artificial touch), the IEEE Robotics and Automation Letters (the largest Journal in the field), and the Italian Institute of Robotics and Intelligent Machines.

Jeannette Bohg is an Assistant Professor of Computer Science at Stanford University. She was a group leader at the Autonomous Motion Department (AMD) of the MPI for Intelligent Systems until September 2017. Before joining AMD in January 2012, Jeannette Bohg was a PhD student at the Division of Robotics, Perception and Learning (RPL) at KTH in Stockholm. In her thesis, she proposed novel methods towards multi-modal scene understanding for robotic grasping. She also studied at Chalmers in Gothenburg and at the Technical University in Dresden where she received her Master in Art and Technology and her Diploma in Computer Science, respectively. Her research focuses on perception and learning for autonomous robotic manipulation and grasping. She is specifically interesting in developing methods that are goal-directed, real-time and multi-modal such that they can provide meaningful feedback for execution and learning. Jeannette Bohg has received several awards, most notably the 2019 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA) Best Paper Award, the 2019 IEEE Robotics and Automation Society Early Career Award and the 2017 IEEE Robotics and Automation Letters (RA-L) Best Paper Award.

Jessica Burgner-Kahrs is an Associate Professor with the Departments for Mathematical & Computational Sciences, Computer Science, and Mechanical & Industrial Engineering and founding Director of the Continuum Robotics Laboratory at the University of Toronto, Canada. She holds appointments From 2013 to 2019 she was with Leibniz University Hannover, Germany and from 2010 to 2012 with Vanderbilt University, USA. She received her Diploma and Ph.D. in Computer Science from Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), Germany in 2006 and 2010 respectively.

Her research focus lies on continuum robotics and in particular on their design, modeling, planning and control, as well as human-robot interaction. Her fundamental robotics research is driven by applications in minimally-invasive surgery and maintenance, repair, and operations. In 2015, her research was recognized with the Heinz Maier-Leibnitz Prize, the Lower Saxony Science Award in the category Young Researcher, and she was entitled Young Researcher of the Year 2015 in Germany. The Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences awarded her the Engineering Science Prize in 2016. She was elected as one of the Top 40 under 40 in the category Science and Society in 2015, 2016, and 2017 by the business magazine Capital. In 2019, Jessica was nominated as Young Global Leader from the World Economic Forum.

Dr. Alessandro Curioni is an IBM Fellow, vice president of Europe and director of the IBM Research lab in Zurich, Switzerland. In addition to leading the IBM Research activities in Europe, he is also responsible for the global research in IoT and Security.

Dr. Curioni is a world recognized leader in the area of high performance computing and computational science where his innovative thinking and seminal contributions have helped solve some of the most complex scientific and technological problems in healthcare, aerospace, consumer goods and electronics. He was a member of the winning team recognized with the prestigious Gordon Bell Prize in 2013 and 2015.

Dr. Curioni received his undergraduate degree in Theoretical Chemistry and his PhD from Scuola Normale Superiore, Pisa, Italy. He started at IBM Research – Zurich as a PhD student in 1993 before officially joining as a research staff member in 1998. His most recent position has been the head of the Cognitive Computing and Computational Sciences department.

In 2017 he was named a member of the Swiss Academy of Engineering Sciences.

Dieter Fox is a Professor in the Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering at the University of Washington. He grew up in Bonn, Germany, and received his Ph.D. in 1998 from the Computer Science Department at the University of Bonn. He joined the UW faculty in the fall of 2000.

Dieter Fox is sharing his time between UW and NVIDIA, where he is leading the Robotics Research Lab in Seattle.

His research interests are in robotics and artificial intelligence, with a focus on state estimation and perception applied to problems such as mapping, object detection and tracking, manipulation, and activity recognition. He is a Fellow of the IEEE, ACM, and AAAI, and recipient of the IEEE RAS Pioneer Award. He was an editor of the IEEE Transactions on Robotics, program co-chair of the 2008 AAAI Conference on Artificial Intelligence, and program chair of the 2013 Robotics: Science and Systems conference.

Jürgen Grotepass has graduated from RWTH Aachen, holding a PhD in Machine Vision and Machine Learning. He has worked for the automotive and automotive supplier industry in leading positions for more than 25 years with broad experience in managing innovation, R&D and large industry projects related to automation, robot vision and smart production. The implementation of digitization strategies for adaptive production lines and Industrie 4.0 brownfield consulting became his field of expertise since 2014.

Since 2014 he is with HUAWEI Technologies Duesseldorf GmbH, European Research Center (ERC) in Munich responsible for brownfield consulting for manufacturing lines and greenfield consulting to build up a smart process lab in Germany. Since April 2020 acting as CSO Chief Strategy Officer Manufacturing, promoting key technologies for manufacturing industries, i.e. AI and 5G for upscaling Smart Factories.

Jürgen Grotepass is honorary professor at Tongji University (CDHK) in Shanghai since 2005. His annual lectures are on robot vision solutions and smart data approaches in current shopfloor environments and future smart factories.

Jürgen Grotepass is elected Chair of the 2021 created Working Group of ZVEI on AI for Industrial Automation (AI:IA at

Marco is an assistant professor for robotic systems at ETH Zurich and founder of ANYbotics AG. His research interests are in the development of novel machines and their intelligence to work in unstructured environments. With his research team at ETH and the company ANYbotics, he created some of the most advanced legged robots and mobile manipulation systems that find applicaiton in various real-world scenarios. Marco is part of the National Centre of Competence in Research (NCCR) Robotics and NCCR Digital Fabrication and PI in various international projects (e.g. EU Thing) and challenges (e.g. DARPA SubT). His work has been recognized with a number of awards and prestigious grants such as the Branco Weiss Fellowship, ETH medal, IEEE/RAS Early Career Award or ERC Starting Grant.

Shaffiq Jaffer is the Vice President of Corporate Science and Technology Projects in North America (NA) with as mission to find and fund novel ideas and technologies that will lead to breakthroughs to meet future energy demand while addressing the climate challenges. He is engaged across the research ecosystem: academia, startups, and private research companies, focused on building long lasting relationships that create value for TOTAL and its partners. Prior to TOTAL, he has worked for P&G and Koch-Glitsch in research and engineering roles. He was educated in Canada at University of Alberta (BSc) and McMaster University (PhD) and is a Fellow of Canadian Academy of Engineering (FCAE).

Oussama Khatib received his PhD from Sup’Aero, Toulouse, France, in 1980. He is Professor of Computer Science and Director of the Robotics Laboratory at Stanford University. His research focuses on methodologies and technologies in human-centered robotics. He is a Fellow of IEEE, Co-Editor of the Springer Tracts in Advanced Robotics (STAR) series, and the Springer Handbook of Robotics. Professor Khatib is the President of the International Foundation of Robotics Research (IFRR). He is recipient of the IEEE RAS Pioneer Award, the George Saridis Leadership Award, the Distinguished Service Award, the Japan Robot Association (JARA) Award, the Rudolf Kalman Award, and the IEEE Technical Field Award. In 2018, Professor Khatib was elected to the National Academy of Engineering.

Abderrahmane Kheddar received the BS in Computer Science degree from the Institut National d’Informatique (ESI), Algiers, the MSc and Ph.D. degree in robotics, both from Pierre et Marie Curie University, Sorbonne University, Paris. He is presently Directeur de Recherche at CNRS and the Codirector of the CNRS-AIST Joint Robotic Laboratory (JRL), IRL, Tsukuba, Japan (Created in 2008, Director from 2008 to 2018). He is also created and led the Interactive Digital Humans (IDH) team at CNRS-University of Montpellier LIRMM (from 2010 to 2020), France. His research interests include haptics, humanoids and recently thought-based control using brain machine interfaces. He is a founding member of the IEEE/RAS chapter on haptics, the co-chair and founding member of the IEEE/RAS Technical committee on model-based optimization, he is a member of the steering committee of the IEEE Brain Initiative, Editor of the IEEE Robotics and Automation Letters, Founding member and Deputy Editor-in-Chief of Cyborg and Bionics System (a Science partner journal). He was Editor of the IEEE Transactions on Robotics (2013-2018) and is a founding member of the IEEE Transactions on Haptics and served in its editorial board (2007-2010). He is an IEEE senior member and titular full member of the National Academy of Technology of France and recently knight of the national order of merits of France.

Jean-Paul Laumond, IEEE Fellow, is a roboticist. He is Directeur de Recherche Emeritus at CNRS. Previously with LAAS-CNRS (team Gepetto) in Toulouse, he joined in 2019 the research unit DIENS affiliated to ENS, CNRS and INRIA (team Willow) in Paris. His research is about robot motion planning and control. In 2001 and 2002 he created and managed Kineo CAM, a spin-off company from LAAS-CNRS devoted to develop and market motion planning technology. Siemens acquired Kineo CAM in 2012. In 2006, he launched the research team Gepetto dedicated to anthropomorphic motion studies along three perspectives: artificial motion for humanoid robots, virtual motion for digital actors, and natural motions of human beings. He has published more than 150 papers in international journals and conferences in Robotics, Computer Science, Automatic Control and in Neurosciences. His current project Actanthrope (ERC-ADG 340050) is devoted to the computational foundations of anthropomorphic action. He teaches Robotics at Ecole Normale Supérieure in Paris. He has been the 2011-2012 recipient of the Chaire Innovation technologique Liliane Bettencourt at Collège de France in Paris. He is the 2016 recipient of the IEEE Inaba Technical Award for Innovation Leading to Production. He is a member of the French Academy of Technologies and of the French Academy of Sciences.

Achim J. Lilienthal is professor of Computer Science and head of the Mobile Robotics and Olfaction (MRO) Lab at Örebro University. His core research interest is in perception systems in unconstrained, dynamic environments. Typically based on approaches that leverage domain knowledge and Artificial Intelligence, his research work addresses rich 3D perception, navigation of autonomous transport robots, mobile robot olfaction, human robot interaction and mathematics education research. Achim J. Lilienthal obtained his Ph.D. in computer science from Tübingen University. The Ph.D. thesis addresses gas distribution mapping and gas source localisation with mobile robots. He is senior member of IEEE and author/coauthor of more than 250 refereed conference papers and journal articles.

Yoshihiko Nakamura is Professor Emeritus, and Senior Researcher, School of Engineering, University of Tokyo. He received Doctor of Engineering Degree from Kyoto University. He held faculty positions at Kyoto University as Assistant Professor (1982-1987) , University of California Santa Barbara, as Assistant and Associate Professor (1987-1991), and University of Tokyo as Associate and Full Professor (1991-2020). Humanoid robotics, cognitive robotics, neuro musculoskeletal human modeling, biomedical systems, and their computational algorithms are his current fields of research. He is Life Fellow of IEEE and Fellow of JSME, RSJ, and WAAS. Dr. Nakamura served as President of IFToMM (2012-2015). Dr. Nakamura is Foreign Member of Academy of Engineering Science of Serbia, and TUM Distinguished Affiliated Professor of Technische Universität München.

"Gurdeep Singh Pall is the Corporate Vice President for Business AI at Microsoft Corp, and part of the Technology & Research Leadership Team.

He joined Microsoft as a software design engineer (1990) after graduate school at University of Oregon. Pall was part of the Windows NT development team, working on the first version of Windows NT 3.1 (1993), all the way through Windows XP (2001). He led design and implementation of core networking technologies such as PPP, TCP/IP, VPNs, Internet Routing, and Wi-Fi, and parts of the operating system. Since then, he has led Conversation-as-a-Platform, Microsoft Speech, Tellme, and Bing Maps initiatives.

Gurdeep Pall now leads the Business AI Group at Microsoft, a team comprising of Research Scientists, Engineers and Business leaders, bringing digital transformation to business tasks thru the power of AI, including a recent effort to train Autonomous Systems with Reinforcement Learning efficiently. Prior to this he was responsible for Skype, Skype for Business and Microsoft Teams efforts, including starting Lync and developing it into a multi-billion $ business.

Pall has been a keynote speaker at many conferences. He was named one of the "15 Innovators & Influencers Who Will Make A Difference" (2008) and co-authored "Institutional Memory Goes Digital," which was presented at the World Economic Forum 2009. Pall holds 25+ patents in networking, VoIP and collaboration areas. He has served on the board of trustees of Ashesi University, Ghana.

Reinhard Ploss has been a member of the Management Board of Infineon Technologies AG since 2007 (mandated until 31 December 2022). He has been CEO since October 1, 2012.

Reinhard Ploss was born in 1955 in Bamberg. He studied process engineering at the Technical University of Munich and received his doctorate in 1990. He began his career at Infineon in 1986 (Siemens AG until 1999).

Davide Scaramuzza is Professor of Robotics and Perception at both departments of Informatics and Neuroinformatics (University of Zurich and ETH Zurich), where he does research at the intersection of robotics, computer vision, and neuroscience. Specifically he investigates the use of standard and neuromorphic cameras to enable autonomous, agile, navigation of micro drones in search-and-rescue scenarios. He did his PhD in robotics and computer vision at ETH Zurich and a postdoc at the University of Pennsylvania. He led the European project sFly, which introduced the PX4 autopilot and pioneered visual-SLAM-based autonomous navigation of micro drones (2009-2012). For his research contributions in vision-based navigation, he was awarded the IEEE Robotics and Automation Society Early Career Award, the SNSF-ERC Starting Grant, a Google Research Award, KUKA, Qualcomm, and Intel awards, the European Young Research Award, the Misha Mahowald Neuromorphic Engineering Award, and several conference paper awards. He coauthored the book "Introduction to Autonomous Mobile Robots" and more than 100 papers on robotics and perception published in top-ranked journals and conferences. In 2015, he cofounded a venture, called Zurich-Eye, dedicated to the commercialization of visual-inertial navigation solutions for mobile robots, which later became Facebook-Oculus Switzerland and Oculus' European research hub. He was also the strategic advisor of Dacuda, which later became Magic Leap Zurich.

Roland Siegwart (1959) is professor for autonomous mobile robots at ETH Zurich, founding co-director of the technology transfer center Wyss Zurich and board member of multiple high tech companies. He studied mechanical engineering at ETH Zurich, spent ten years as professor at EPFL Lausanne (1996 – 2006), held visiting positions at Stanford University and NASA Ames and was vice president of ETH Zurich (2010 -2014). He is IEEE Fellow and recipient of the IEEE RAS Pioneer Award and IEEE RAS Inaba Technical Award. He is among the most cited scientist in robots world-wide, co-founder of more than half a dozen spin-off companies and a strong promoter of innovation and entrepreneurship in Switzerland.

His interests are in the design, control and navigation of flying, wheeled and walking robots operating in complex and highly dynamical environments.

Patrick van der Smagt is director of the open-source Volkswagen Group Machine Learning Research Lab in Munich, focussing on probabilistic deep learning for time series modelling, optimal control, robotics, and quantum machine learning. He is also a faculty member of the LMU Graduate School of Systemic Neurosciences and research professor at Eötvös Loránd University Budapest. He is the founding head of a European industry initiative on certification of ethics in AI applications (etami). Patrick previously directed a lab as professor for machine learning and biomimetic robotics at the Technical University of Munich, and leads the machine learning group at the research institute fortiss. he founded and headed the Assistive Robotics and Bionics Lab at the DLR Oberpfaffenhofen. Ages ago he did his PhD and MSc at Amsterdam’s universities on neural networks in robotics and vision. Besides publishing numerous papers and patents on machine learning, robotics, and motor control, he has won a number of awards, including the 2013 Helmholtz-Association Erwin Schrödinger Award, the 2014 King-Sun Fu Memorial Award, the 2013 Harvard Medical School/MGH Martin Research Prize, and best-paper awards at machine learning and robotics conferences and journals. He was founding chairman of a non-for-profit organisation for Assistive Robotics for tetraplegics and co-founder of various tech companies.

Leila Takayama is an associate professor of Computational Media at the University of California, Santa Cruz, who studies human-robot interaction. Prior to UC Santa Cruz, she was a senior user experience researcher at GoogleX, and was a research scientist and area manager for human-robot interaction at Willow Garage. She has served as a World Economic Forum Global Futures Council Member and Young Global Leader. In 2015, she was presented the IEEE Robotics & Automation Society Early Career Award. In 2012, she was named a TR35 winner and one of the 100 most creative people in business by Fast Company.

With a background in Cognitive Science, Psychology, and Human-Computer Interaction, Professor Takayama examines human encounters with new technologies. She completed her PhD in Communication at Stanford University in 2008, advised by Professor Clifford Nass. She also holds a PhD minor in Psychology from Stanford, a master's degree in Communication from Stanford, and bachelor's of arts degrees in Psychology and Cognitive Science from UC Berkeley (2003). During her graduate studies, she was a research assistant in the User Interface Research (UIR) group at Palo Alto Research Center (PARC).

Carme Torras is Research Professor at the Institut de Robòtica i Informàtica Industrial (CSIC-UPC) in Barcelona, where she leads a research group on assistive and collaborative robotics. She received M.Sc. degrees in Mathematics and Computer Science from the University of Barcelona and the University of Massachusetts, respectively, and a Ph.D. degree in Computer Science from the Technical University of Catalonia (UPC). Prof. Torras has published six research books and more than three hundred papers in robotics, machine learning, geometric reasoning, and neurocomputing. She has supervised 19 PhD theses and led 16 European projects, the latest being her ERC Advanced Grant project CLOTHILDE – Cloth manipulation learning from demonstrations. Prof. Torras is IEEE and EurAI Fellow, member of Academia Europaea and the Royal Academy of Sciences and Arts of Barcelona. She has served as Senior Editor of the IEEE Transactions on Robotics, and Associate Vice-President for Publications of IEEE-RAS. Convinced that science fiction can help promote ethics in AI and robotics, one of her novels - winner of the Pedrolo and Ictineu awards - has been translated into English with the title The Vestigial Heart (MIT Press, 2018) and published together with online materials to teach a course on “Ethics in Social Robotics and AI”.

Jim Tung is a MathWorks Fellow, focusing on business and technology strategy and working with key customers and partners. Jim has more than 35 years of experience in real-time systems, data acquisition, and technical computing, including 30 years at MathWorks. Jim was previously vice president of marketing and vice president of business development at MathWorks, and earlier held marketing and sales management positions at Lotus Development and Keithley DAS, a pioneering manufacturer of PC-based date acquisition systems.

Sethu Vijayakumar is the Professor of Robotics at the University of Edinburgh, UK and the Director of the Edinburgh Centre for Robotics. He has pioneered the use of large scale machine learning techniques in the real-time control of several iconic robotic platforms such as the SARCOS and the HONDA ASIMO humanoids, KUKA-LWR robot arm and iLIMB prosthetic hand. His latest project (2016) involves a collaboration with NASA Johnson Space Centre on the Valkyrie humanoid robot being prepared for unmanned robotic pre-deployment missions to Mars. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, a judge on BBC Robot Wars and winner of the 2015 Tam Dalyell Prize for excellence in engaging the public with science. Professor Vijayakumar helps shape and drive the national Robotics and Autonomous Systems (RAS) agenda in his recent role as the Programme co-Director for Artificial Intelligence (AI) at The Alan Turing Institute, the UK’s national institute for data science and AI.