There is much to look back on from this year’s ERF in Rimini – and we will do exactly that in the next few editions of the newsletter. This time we focus on an event that has its natural home at the heart of ERF, namely the euRobotics Awards Ceremony. This is an annual celebration of demonstrated achievements and clear potential across three well-established award categories that recognise excellence in research, technology transfer and entrepreneurship. This year’s ceremony was extra-special and particularly poignant, with a tribute made to Renaud Champion in the presence of his family, and the announcement that Renaud’s name will now be conferred on the award with which he was most closely associated.  

There was a further innovation, with the introduction of a new category of recognition, for excellence in sustainability. For those who were unable to attend – or if you were there and you’d like to savour some memories from the ceremony – we have edited the highlights for the euRobotics YouTube channel via this link to the 2024 euRobotics Awards Ceremony .   

Gianluca Antonelli, Chair of the Georges Giralt PhD Award, outlined the background and process, named the 27-person award committee and gave a summary of the response to this year’s 23rd edition of the award, which attracted 54 submissions from 12 countries. He then announced the finalists: 

Manuel Keppler (DE TU Munich). Submission title: From Underactuation to Quasi-Full Actuation: A Unifying Control Framework for Rigid and Elastic Joint Robots 

Oier Mees (DE U Freiburg): Interactive Language Instructable Robot Learning 

Alessandro Palleschi (I U Pisa): Planning to Interact: Shaping the Intelligence of Collaborative Robots in Interaction-Rich Shared Environments 

Ellen Roels (BE Vrije U Brussel): Manufacturing self-healing soft robots with integrated sensors 

Julien Urain (DE TU Darmstadt): Deep Generative Models for Motion Planning and Control 

This year’s winner was Manuel Keppler.  

Following the presentation sequence from research to application, the ceremony then moved on to the Technology Transfer Award, presented by award chair Werner Kraus. This year was the 21st iteration of the Technology Transfer Award. Again, Werner set the scene with the background to the award, the process and the protagonists, before introducing the short-listed finalists:  

Cobomanip – a project for the aeronautics industry with project team members from CEA List, Kuka and Airbus Atlantic 

Robot Masonry: WLTR (construction industry), with a project team from CTU Prague, Wienerberger and KM Robotics 

MagnetCrawler (inspection), a joint project from DFKI and Yardstick Robotics 

Loadrunner (intralogistics – picking and navigation) from KION Group and Fraunhofer IML. 

The final placings in the Technology Transfer Award were: 3rd Cobomanip; 2nd WLTR and 1st: Loadrunner. 

Jon Agirre Ibarbia, executive director of euRobotics, then delivered an appreciation of the life and contribution to the European robotics community of Renaud Champion, before inviting members of Renaud’s family to come to the stage, where Jon presented them with a special award to mark the occasion.   

Moving on to present what was now named for the first time as the Renaud Champion Entrepreneurship Award, the award chair Mikkel Christofferson, making his stage debut in this role, came forward to introduce the award and the jury before announcing the finalists: 

  • Heibjerg 
  • Zeal Robotics 
  • Smart Farm Robotics 
  • KINETIK Space  

Finally, Mikkel revealed the jury’s three chosen winners of this year’s Renaud Champion Entrepreneurship Award to be: 3rd KINETIK Space; 2nd Smart Farm Robotics; 1st ISOCHRONIC.  

In another innovation for this year’s awards ceremony, euRobotics director Franziska Kirstein then came forward to introduce the thinking behind the decision to acclaim the first recipients of Sustainability Leadership Recognition in Robotics, an award to celebrate innovations in robotics that contribute significantly to environmental, social and economic sustainability. The focus, said Franziska, was in two parts: how robots can support sustainability and how robots can be produced and used sustainably. From this came three recognition categories. The first was to support sustainability in robotics through a specific initiative. Within this category, presentations were made for the Sustainable Robotics Initiative and Angsa Robotics x Rokit. The second category was Making use of an existing robot solution to support sustainability, and here recognition was given to Re-FMS by KU Leuven. Finally, three initiatives were profiled for the category, Developing a robot to support sustainability. These were: Plato by United Robotics Group; Maelstrom by Tecnalia, and VIGO Pilot by PIAP.  

Following the presentations, Werner Kraus returned to the stage, this time as chair of the Stuttgart Organising Team for ERF, to set out the history and credentials of Germany’s sixth largest city as next year’s ERF host. 

Ceremony host Steve Doswell then announced Stavanger in Norway as the host city for ERF 2026 before inviting all presenters, jury members, finalists, winners and other participants for the ceremony Finale, a group photograph that served as a curtain call for virtually everyone who had played some part in making the ceremony possible.  We look forward to next year.