Robothon® – The Grand Challenge: A global robotics competition in advanced manipulation

Hardware. Software. Teamware.

Robothon® – The Grand Challenge was once again a great success

Robothon® – The Grand Challenge made its third round appearance at automatica 2023. This global competition brings together roboticists to create transferable physical robotics manipulation skills with their own robot platform towards pressing industrial challenges. Teams develop hardware and software for autonomously handling electronic waste over a four-week period with our international community of developers, partners and sponsors. Their results are reviewed by our esteemed Grand Jury and the event culminates with the Award Ceremony as part of the high-tech platform munich_i at the automatica trade fair.

International teams, enthusiastic participants, amazed judges: Join our community!

Challenging? Yes. Unsolvable? No.

Robothon® teams have been able to prove this in their latest challenge in the fight against industrial pollution. The challenge is once again about the disassembly and sorting of electronic waste and the goal is to make these processes even more efficient and sustainable through automated recycling. Accomplishing this requires enabling robots to autonomously recognize, grasp, and manipulate loose components in a new production environment.

How Robothon® works

The competition starts right after the challenge kickoff meeting. The teams have four weeks to develop an autonomous robotic solution to the challenge task board. Participants will receive a brand new task board for the 2023 challenge after their application has been reviewed by the organizers. This year’s challenge involves five new increasingly difficult manipulation tasks. The final rules and competition scorecard will be released at the start of the development period at the kickoff meeting. Teams will be evaluated on their robotic solution in terms of number of tasks completed, execution speed, robustness, and creativity. The Grand Challenge Jury includes high-profile AI and robotics experts as well as industry representatives who will award the best teams with recognition and prize money of at least € 10,000. The competition will conclude with an Award Ceremony presented at the automatica trade fair in Munich within the framework of munich_i.

Did you know?

The distributed format of the Robothon® competition and global reach of web dashboards as a digital judge has led to the formation of a new EU-funded project: 31 leading research institutes, universities, and industrial partners have joined forces using a similar concept to create a pan-European challenge network called ‘euROBIN’.

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"We are facing two major challenges. First, how can digital technologies like Al and robotics transform our life for the better. And second, how can we protect our beautiful planet. For me, these goals are not opposed to each other, but must be considered together. I am very glad and proud to see the Robothon® and all participating teams demonstrate how this can work!"

"It is an honour and a pleasure for me to serve as a jury member for Robothon®. The now applied competition e-waste disassembly between Humans and Robots is a new important field."

"Robothon® is an excellent example of how we can engage researchers in demonstrating the potential of robotics to the community at large."

"This year’s Robothon® challenge adresses both, the key challenge of future automated waste sorting and the key role AI plays in sensor data fusion, skill development and trusted execution in shared robot human environments. The challenge therefore is a valuable contribution solving actual society needs and acceptance of trusted technologies."

"I was impressed by the performance of all the teams. In a very short time, these young bright minds have created amazingly robust and also creative solutions. As I am currently putting together a new team, I would especially like to give all participants a chance at possible dissertation positions."

"It is an honour and a pleasure for me to serve as a jury member for Robothon® . Engaging in Robothon® is a great way for young and enthusiastic researchers to develop systems and software that have the potential to solve the big problems of our society. By participating in this competition, researchers can gain practical experience in designing, building, and programming robots that can perform tasks in real-world scenarios."

"Pushing the bar higher in a healthy competitive environment: this is what makes Robothon® a great event for advancing robotics technology a step further every year."

"Every year, Robothon® assembles highly motivated teams of young researchers to adress one of the grand challenges of our industialized societies. It is both an honor and rewarding to serve as part of the jury. I am very much looking forward to see this year's results!"