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12 September 2005

Robotics Conference at the University of Heidelberg

Participants looking for a decisive breakthrough in the understanding of fast motion — 7-9 September 2005 at the International Science Forum of the University of Heidelberg

Early September saw an encounter of a very special kind in Heidelberg. 25 top-flight scientists from Japan, the United States and Europe assembled to investigate the secret behind the human ability to run much faster and more elegantly than even the best humanoid robots. The conference entitled "Fast Motions in Biomechanics and Robotics — Optimization and Feedback Control" took place from 7-9 September 2005 and was the first "Ruperto Carola Symposium" at the University of Heidelberg's International Science Forum. The interdisciplinary community of researchers spending three days in each other's company was highly unusual in itself, assembling robotics engineers, mathematicians, medical scientists, biomechanics experts and theoretical control engineers.

The funding for the symposium was provided by the "Klaus-Georg and Sigrid Hengstberger Prize for Young Scientists" first awarded last year by the University of Heidelberg. The Prize recipients and organisers of the symposium, Dr. Katja Mombaur and Dr. Moritz Diehl of the Interdisciplinary Centre for Scientific Computing (IWR), were confident that the relatively small number of participants and a more narrowly defined focus than is customary at other robotics conferences would lead to a decisive breakthrough in the understanding of fast motions. After 40 years of extremely intensive research, notably in Japan, the two-legged forward motion that we humans are so quick to learn in infancy still represents a major challenge for the engineers. Much technological progress has already been made, as was impressively evidenced by the humanoid robot Asimo that accompanied the Japanese prime minister on his last visit to Europe. But many of the motions that look so simple to us, like running, are still completely beyond even the best of today's robots.

For more information on the symposium go to

Dr. Moritz Diehl
Dr. Katja Mombaur
Interdisciplinary Centre for Scientific Computing (IWR)
University of Heidelberg
phone: 06221/548831 (Diehl) 06221/548245 (Mombaur)
fax : 545444

For journalists (general inquiries)
Dr. Michael Schwarz
Press Officer of the University of Heidelberg
phone: 06221/542310, fax: 54317

Irene Thewalt
Press Office
University of Heidelberg
phone: 06221/542311, fax: 542317

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