November 6, 2022

TeamNimbRO 400x275Team NimbRo, based in Bonn, Germany, was named the $5 million grand-prize winner in the four-year ANA Avatar XPRIZE, which aimed to discover new technologies for telepresence and teleoperation robotics. NimbRo’s technology was selected by a panel of judges at the conclusion of the public testing event held in Long Beach, Calif., on Nov. 4 and 5.

Second place went to Pollen Robotics, of Bordeaux, France ($2 million winner); and Team Northeastern from Boston was awarded third prize ($1 million). The judges said the winning teams integrated multiple emerging technologies to develop a physical avatar system, through which operators can see, hear, and interact with objects in a remote environment, transporting the operator as if they were truly there.

Sponsored by All Nippon Airways (ANA), Japan’s largest airline, the $10 million competition asked teams to develop physical, human-operated robotic avatar systems that could execute tasks and replicate a person’s senses, actions and presence to a remote location in real time. Often referred to as telepresence systems, these avatars enable people to apply skills in critical situations over great physical distances.

NimbroAvatar200pxXPRIZE said 17 teams from 10 countries were chosen to compete in the finals, out of 99 teams who registered for the event in 2018. A live audience of more than 2,100 people witnessed the competition over the two days. The physical robot avatar technologies were tested on specific tasks that evaluated their ability to interact with humans, explore new environments, and employ specialized skills.

“NimbRo’s work demonstrates the remarkable potential of avatar technology to transcend time and distance and help address urgent human challenges, from health care access to disaster relief,” said Anousheh Ansari, CEO of XPRIZE. “The final testing event was an exciting opportunity to share the power of telepresence with thousands of people in-person and around the world. We are grateful to all the participating teams for their impressive work and their efforts to boldly push technological boundaries.”

“The ANA Avatar XPRIZE demonstrates the power of avatar technology and its ability to strengthen our society and improve lives,” said Junko Yazawa, executive vice president of ANA. “These innovations, exemplified by the work of NimbRo and the other finalists, are a major step forward toward our goal of creating a more connected world.”

“Telepresence and avatar technology will be an essential part of human progress in the decades to come,” said David Locke, Executive Director, ANA Avatar XPRIZE. “Through the ANA Avatar XPRIZE, what we saw these past few days was a leap-ahead in this technology area that will make a difference in how people connect in the future. XPRIZE is proud to be a driving force behind these remarkable innovations.”

More details and information on the competition are available at the XPRIZE website.

XPRIZE Avatar Leaders800px

The final standings for the 17 teams in the ANA Avatar XPRIZE event.