Robotics Pioneers to Be Honored at Automate and automatica

May 11, 2022
The awards program honors excellence in the development or application of technology, education, and leadership.

The Association for Advancing Automation (A3) has announced six winners of the 2022 Engelberger Robotics Awards.

At a special dinner in conjunction with the Automate 2022 Show and Conference in Detroit on June 8, three winners will be honored for their leadership in the field: Michael P. Jacobs, founder and CEO of Applied Manufacturing Technologies (AMT); Oussama Khatib, professor at Stanford University; and Marc Raibert, founder and chairman of Boston Dynamics. 

The association will honor three more winners at automatica in Munich on June 20, and they are: 

  • Bertil Thorvaldsson, product manager at ABB
  • Bruno Siciliano, professor at the University of Naples Federico II
  • Melonee Wise, vice president of robotics automation at Zebra Technologies

The award is named after the late Joseph F. Engelberger, known by many as the founding force behind industrial robotics, according to A3. Since 1977, the association has presented the awards to 134 robotics leaders from 17 different nations for excellence in technology development, application, education and leadership. Each winner receives a $5,000 honorarium and commemorative medallion.

 “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,” said Jeff Burnstein, president of A3.

The Honorees' Achievements

The past chairs of the A3 Technology Strategy Board selected the six honorees based on their achievements in the field. For example, Khatib, a roboticist and a professor of computer science, is credited with seminal work in areas ranging from robot motion planning and control, human-friendly robot design, to haptic interaction and human motion synthesis.

Wise previously was the CEO of Fetch Robotics until its acquisition by Zebra Technologies in 2021. 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 robot hardware and software. In 2014, she and other members of Willow Garage founded Fetch Robotics, which is best known for its autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) for warehouses.

Meanwhile, Jacobs is an expert in the robotic automation industry. At GMF Robotics (now FANUC), where he worked before AMT, Jacobs pioneered the product development and market introduction of robot simulation and offline programming systems.

The other Engelberger winners have led or been involved in advancing the automation industry in myriad ways. Marc Raibert founded Boston Dynamics, where he also served as CEO. The robotics company is known for creating BigDog, Atlas, Spot and Handle. Thorvaldsson joined ABB Robotics, a global leader in power and automation technologies, in 1976.

University of Naples Federico II's Siciliano, an engineer, is director of the ICAROS Center and coordinator of the PRISMA Lab at the Department of Electrical Engineering and Information Technology.

For more information about Automate 2022, visit

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