Penn Engineering’s GRASP Lab, Wharton’s Mack Institute Take Y-Prize Global in Penn News

October 2nd, 2013

Penn Engineering’s GRASP Lab, Wharton’s Mack Institute Take Y-Prize Global Media Contact: Evan Lerner | | 215-573-6604
Media Contact: Peter Winicov | | 215-746-6471
Posted 30 September 2013

Last year, the GRASP lab at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Engineering and Applied Science and the Wharton School’s Mack Institute helped take cutting-edge robots out of the lab and into the marketplace through the Y-Prize Competition.

Now, they have now joined forces with crowdsourcing platform Marblar and intellectual property commercialization company IP Group to take the Y-Prize worldwide

Beginning September 30, contestants from all over the globe will propose commercial applications for robotic technologies developed by Engineering professors Vijay Kumar, Daniel Koditschek and Mark Yim for a chance to win the ultimate prize, up to 10% of a licensing deal or spinoff created from their idea.

An October 3 kickoff event, to be held at 6:30 pm at Penn’s Wu and Chen auditorium, will be streamed live via Google Hangouts. There, the engineers will provide an inside look at their robots, giving contestants a starting point for brainstorming at

“We are thrilled to foster the Y-Prize competition once again,” said Saikat Chaudhuri, Mack Institute executive director and adjunct associate professor of management at Wharton. “The Y-Prize is a great example of the Mack Institute’s mission to act as a knowledge hub that unites various disciplines to yield thought leadership as well as applications in innovation management—on campus and across the world.”

Contestants will be able to devise applications centered on three types of robots: 

  • Kumar’s aerial robots each have four rotors that afford them impressive speed and maneuverability, but their real advantage is their ability to work together, planning routes and filling in gaps of designated formations.
  • Koditschek’s ground-based robot, X-RHex, is a six-legged platform inspired by cockroaches’ ability to quickly cross difficult terrain. X-RHex is able to carry and use a wide variety of sensors and actuators to complement its outstanding off-road mobility.
  • Each of Yim’s modular robots—called ckBots—are remarkable in their own right, but when they link up using ModLock technology, these robots become much more than the sum of their parts: they’re a construction set for building all sorts of bigger robots.

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