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An international jury of scientific figures such as Professor Wolfgang Wahlster, a world-renowned German researcher, awarded three young talents with the RYIA Industry 4.0 Award. First prize went to Varun Burde, who works in the RICAIP Testbed for Industry 4.0 at the Czech Institute of Informatics, Robotics and Cybernetics (CIIRC) of CTU. He works on robotic manipulation of objects using computer vision methods, while conducting PhD studies at Faculty of Electrical Engineering.

The RYIA competition - RICAIP Young Investigator Award - was announced by the Czech-German research centre RICAIP for the first time this year. The other winners are Michal Skalský from CEITEC BUT and Caspar Jacob from the German Centre for Artificial Intelligence DFKI. The prize comes with an interesting financial reward, which this year was sponsored by Brno University of Technology. The award was presented to the winners personally by the Rector of Brno University of Technology, Ladislav Janíček, on the occasion of the opening ceremony of the testbed at CEITEC BUT, also the main organizer of this year's first edition of the competition within RICAIP.

"The six-member international jury had a difficult task, because all the nominees and award winners have a very good track record for their age," says Tilman Becker, Director of the RICAIP Centre, who chaired the jury. "We judged not only scientific results, but also, for example, already conducted experiments in the field of Industry 4.0 carried that have the potential to be used in practice or that stand out for their combination of methods and approaches. It is for this reason that the choice finally fell on Varun Burde."

Varun Burde, a PhD student at CTU, originally from India, is mainly involved in robotics with the manipulation of objects using computer vision. He uses the latest methods of artificial intelligence in combination with Industry 4.0 standards. These are so-called "pick-and-place" applications, which have applications in many industries and are particularly important for increasing the level of automation and autonomy in production and assembly. CIIRC CTU plans to focus its future research on difficult objects, such as objects made of transparent materials or those with complex geometries.

"This award is an honour for me and a great motivation for further research," says Varun Burde. "I have been fascinated by robotics for years, it is great to see how a computer program can bring life to sensors and ultimately deliver robust solutions for industry. I think the variations of robotics and its possibilities are endless and I'm excited to explore them with the help of my mentors."

This young researcher has two mentors at CIIRC CTU - Pavel Burget, director of RICAIP Testbed for Industry 4.0, and Torsten Sattler, a top researcher in the field of 3D computer vision, holder of the so-called RICAIP Tenure Track position and now a recent recipient of the prestigious GAČR EXPRO grant.

"Paul Burget and I were looking for a PhD student to supervise together who would be able to combine robotics with computer vision," says Torsten Sattler. "I am delighted that Varun has accepted our offer and we can work with him on new challenges."

"Varun's research finds solutions for various basic tasks, such as 3D reconstruction, estimating the position of an object or finding the right grip points. He perfectly combines advanced robotics and artificial intelligence and creates solutions that can benefit not only industries, but can also be used in agriculture or biomedicine," summarises Pavel Burget.

Czech-German Research Centre for Advanced Industrial Production - RICAIP - connects industrial testbeds at the universities in Prague, Brno and Saarbrücken, Germany. One of its most important priorities is to support young talents in the early stages of their scientific careers. The aim of the RYIA Prize is to support and reward young researchers up to the age of 35 who are making a contribution to Industry 4.0. Candidates who are developing solutions in areas such as industrial digitalization, automation, robotics, artificial intelligence, machine learning, big data, computer vision, the Internet of Things or industrial software were eligible for nomination. The main parameter was collaboration on industry-driven research related to the scientific objectives of RICAIP.


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Ing. Mgr. Eva Doležalová