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ABB Robotics launches global contest to accelerate AI innovation

In a move to foster cutting-edge developments in artificial intelligence for robotics, ABB Robotics yesterday announced the launch of the 2024 Robotics AI Startup Challenge - a global competition inviting pioneering startups and entrepreneurs to submit groundbreaking ideas and systems. The Switzerland-based automation giant is calling for participants to focus their proposals on three key areas driving the next-generation of intelligent robotics: natural language programming to make robots more intuitive, skill learning systems that can rapidly adapt capabilities, and autonomous decision-making in real-world scenarios.



"Innovation has been at the heart of ABB since we founded our robotics business 50 years ago," stated Marc Segura, President of ABB Robotics. "This AI Startup Challenge is an opportunity to partner with the most creative minds shaping robotics' future as we work together to develop transformative technologies."

The competition represents ABB's latest initiative to identify and collaborate with pioneering AI startups around the globe. A similar challenge last year resulted in the company's acquisition of Sevensense - a Swiss startup that developed advanced 3D vision navigation for autonomous mobile robots (AMRs).

ABB has clearly doubled down on intelligent AMR capabilities, also purchasing ASTI Mobile Robotics in 2021 to build out its autonomous logistics portfolio. The company stated that it plans to fully integrate Sevensense's AI vision technology into these AMR products.

By harnessing the power of cutting-edge AI systems like those it hopes to source through the new startup challenge, ABB aims to design a future generation of highly intuitive, adaptable, easy-to-use and efficient robotic solutions. The goal is to transform industries by increasing operational resiliency while making workplaces more rewarding through human-robot collaboration.

"We want to incorporate generative AI, machine learning and other disruptive technologies to allow robots to be programmed through natural language, learn skills efficiently, and make autonomous decisions," an ABB spokesperson explained regarding the challenge areas of focus.

The competition offers compelling incentives for entrepreneurial participants. In addition to a $30,000 cash prize for the winning team, ABB is dagling the opportunity to establish a long-term partnership by jointly exploring go-to-market strategies and potential investment avenues.

Interested AI startups can apply for the 2024 Robotics AI Startup Challenge through June 12th by submitting proposals on the competition's website, which provides full details and eligibility criteria. Finalists will have a chance to collaborate closely with ABB's world-class robotics engineers while tapping into the company's vast resources and global customer networks.

The challenge is part of ABB's overarching Innovation Ecosystem initiatives focused on accelerating adoption of transformative technologies to "create a more sustainable and productive future." The industrial titan, which employees over 11,000 in robotics across 53 countries and won a 2024 RBR Robotics Innovation Award, clearly views entrepreneurial AI as a key ingredient.

As demand for automated intelligence across industries continues skyrocking, competitions like this represent a mutually beneficial way for corporate leaders and visionary startups to join forces. By crowdsourcing innovation on a global scale, ABB increases its chances of riding the vanguard of the AI robotics revolution.

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