Robotics pioneer receives IEEE award

Industrial Robot

ISSN: 0143-991x

Article publication date: 1 October 2004




(2004), "Robotics pioneer receives IEEE award", Industrial Robot, Vol. 31 No. 5.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2004, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Robotics pioneer receives IEEE award

Robotics pioneer receives IEEE award

Keywords: Robots, Robotics, Awards

The IEEE has named Joseph F. Engelberger, retired robotics developer from HelpMate Robotics Inc., in Danbury, Connecticut, as recipient of the 2004 IEEE Robotics and Automation Award. The prize honors Engelberger, known to many of his peers as the “father of robotics”, for a lifetime achievement in establishing and advancing the field of robotics and automation worldwide. His foresight of robots' potential to help humanity and his tireless efforts to make that vision a reality have helped transform our society.

Robots have become an integral part of industrial production and have begun to appear in household and healthcare applications. Engelberger's breakthrough service robot, HelpMate, moved the field forward as it delivered meals to hospital patients, negotiated hallways and elevators, and followed internal hospital maps.

Sponsored by the IEEE Robotics and Automation Society, the award recognizes extraordinary contributions in the field. It will be presented at the IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation on 29 April, in New Orleans, Louisiana, USA.

Engelberger founded the pioneering HelpMate Robotics Inc., in 1984, and he served as its chairman until his retirement and the company's merger with Pyxis Corporation in San Diego, in 1999. In his current work, he intends to expand the use of robots even farther by developing a two- armed, mobile, sensate and articulate robot that can assist elderly and infirm individuals in the home, allowing them to postpone institutionalization.

Engelberger's initial foray into automation was his founding of the pioneering industrial robot company Unimation Inc., in Danbury, Connecticut, in 1961. At Unimation, Engelberger contributed to both design and industrial application of a line of robots that were widely acclaimed for their innovative mechanical engineering, control and programming. Engelberger's innovations at Unimation in the 1970s had particular impact on the then-nascent Japanese robotics industry, currently the world leader in industrial robot production. He served as the president and director of Unimation until its sale in 1983 to the Westinghouse Electric Company.

Engelberger also worked as an engineer for Manning Maxwell & Moore in Los Angeles, California. In 1957, he founded Consolidated Controls Corporation in Danbury, Connecticut, serving as its president for two decades. He was vice-president of Condec Corporation in Stamford, Connecticut, from 1965 to 1986.

A member of the US National Academy of Engineering and the Connecticut Academy of Science and Engineering, Engelberger has received the University of Liverpool's (UK) McKechnie Award and the Japan Prize. Additional honors bestowed upon him including the American Die Casting Institution's Nyselius Award, the Society of Manufacturing Engineers' Progress Award, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers' Leonardo da Vinci Award, the American Machinist Award and Columbia University's Egleston Medal. The 2000 World Automation Congress was dedicated to Engelberger, whom The London Sunday Times then named one of the “1000 Makers of the 20th Century”. The robotic industries association annually presents Joseph F. Engelberger Robotics Awards. He has written numerous articles and books, including Robotics in Practice and Robotics in Service.

Engelberger earned bachelor's and master's degrees in physics and electrical engineering degrees at Columbia University in New York. He has received honorary doctorates from five institutions, including Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

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