Engelberger Awards for 2022 Recognize Six Robotics Pioneers

The first three recipients will be at a ceremony at Automate in Detroit, while the second three will receive their awards at Automatica in Munich.

Association for Advancing Automation

Three of the winners will be honored at Automate in Detroit on June 8: Michael P. Jacobs of AMT, Oussama Khatib of Stanford, and Marc Raibert of Boston Dynamics.

The Association for Advancing Automation today announced six winners of the 2022 Engelberger Robotics Awards, which it described as “the most prestigious honor” in robotics.

“As the robotics industry grows, so does our list of extremely talented nominees deserving of this coveted Engelberger Award,” stated Jeff Burnstein, president of the Association for Advancing Automation (A3). “In their unique ways, each of these six remarkable individuals have played prominent roles in shaping the robotics industry we’re a part of today, from educating future roboticists to advancing the role of mobile, industrial, and collaborative robotics in manufacturing facilities and warehouses alike.”

“The Engelberger Robotics Award is named after the late Joseph F. Engelberger, known throughout the world as the founding force behind industrial robotics,” said A3.

Since 1977,134 robotics leaders from 17 different nations have received awards for excellence in technology development, application, education, and leadership. Past chairs of the A3 Technology Strategy Board selected the honorees. Each winner receives a $5,000 honorarium and a commemorative medallion.

Automate to recognize first three leaders

Michael P. Jacobs

Michael P. Jacobs, AMT

Among the robotics innovators is Michael P. Jacobs, founder and CEO of Applied Manufacturing Technologies (AMT). He will be among the first three to be honored at a special dinner during A3's Automate 2022 Show and Conference in Detroit on June 8.

Jacobs will be honored for his leadership in automation. Prior to AMT, he led the product development and market introduction of robotic simulation and offling programming systems at GMF Robotics (now FANUC).

“Recognition by industry leaders with an award that bears the name of Joseph Engelberger is a highlight of my career,” Jacobs said. “I am truly honored and deeply humbled.”

Oussama Khatib

Oussama Khatib, Stanford

In addition, Oussama Khatib of Stanford University will receive an award for education. A roboticist and a professor of computer science at Stanford, Khatib is credited with seminal work in areas including robot motion planning and control, human-friendly robot design, haptic interaction, and human motion synthesis. 

“Joe Engelberger's farsighted vision of people and robots working together over the simplest or most complex of tasks is now within reach, and the potential of these emerging robots is being anticipated throughout the world's societies,” he said. “Receipt of this award for my robotics work toward his vision—an award bearing his name—is a profound honor.

Marc Raibert

Marc Raibert, Boston Dynamics

Marc Raibert, founder, former CEO, and now chairman of Boston Dynamics, will be recognized for technology.

His company is known for the BigDog, Atlas, and Spot legged robots, as well as Handle and the new Stretch truck-unloading system.

Automatica to celebrate more robotics innovators

Bertil Thorvaldsson

Bertil Thorvaldsson, ABB

At Automatica in Munich on June 20, three more winners will be celebrated. The first is Bertil Thorvaldsson, the global product manager at ABB Robotics, a global leader in power and automation technologies. He joined the company in 1976 and will receive an award for leadership.

Bruno Siciliano

Bruno Siciliano, University of Naples Federico II

The second recipient will be Bruno Siciliano, an engineer, academic, and scientific popularizer, for education. He is a professor of Automatic Control at the University of Naples Federico II, director of the ICAROS Center, and coordinator of the PRISMA Lab at the Department of Electrical Engineering and Information Technology. 

Last but not least, Melonee Wise, general manager of robotics automation at Zebra Technologies, will get a technology award. She was previously CEO of Fetch Robotics until its acquisition by Zebra last year.

Melonee Wise

Melonee Wise, Zebra

For nearly 20 years, Wise has been designing, building, and programming robotic hardware and software. She was the second employee at Willow Garage, a research and development laboratory specializing in robotics, where she led a team of engineers developing next-generation robots.

In 2014, Wise and other members of Willow Garage founded Fetch Robotics, which is best known for its autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) for warehouses.

“I’m truly honored to receive the Joseph Engelberger award for technology,” Wise said. “Just as Engelberger forged the path of industrial robots in manufacturing automation, the Fetch Robotics team has followed in his footsteps to bring AMRs to the forefront of manufacturing and logistics automation. I am deeply inspired by Engelberger’s work, and with Zebra, I hope to continue to push the boundaries of robotics technology to enable the adoption of robotics in new industries and applications.”

Award dinner around Automate

The award dinner at Automate will be held on June 8 from 5:15 to 8:30 p.m. EDT in the Grand Ballroom at the Huntington Place Convention Center. Tickets for the event, which includes a cocktail reception and dinner, may be purchased when registering for Automate 2022.

After two decades in Chicago, Automate will return to Detroit, noted A3. The event will bring more than 500 companies showcasing the latest in robotics, machine vision, artificial intelligence, motion control, and smart automation, as well as an expected 20,000 attendees and speakers.

A3 said it promotes automation technologies and ideas that transform the way business is done. Members of A3 represent nearly 1,100 robotics manufacturers, component suppliers, systems integrators, end users, academic institutions, research groups, and consulting firms from around the world.

In addition to Automate, A3 hosts a number of events, including the ongoing Automate Preview Series, Autonomous Mobile Robot & Logistics Week from Oct. 10 to 13 in Boston, and The Vision Show from Oct. 11 to 13 in Boston.


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Association for Advancing Automation

Three of the winners will be honored at Automate in Detroit on June 8: Michael P. Jacobs of AMT, Oussama Khatib of Stanford, and Marc Raibert of Boston Dynamics.


Robot Technologies