Roberta Nelson Shea from Universal Robots Receives Prestigious Robotics Award for Contribution to Robot Safety

  • May 26, 2023
  • Universal Robots
  • News
Roberta Nelson Shea from Universal Robots Receives Prestigious Robotics Award for Contribution to Robot Safety
Roberta Nelson Shea from Universal Robots Receives Prestigious Robotics Award for Contribution to Robot Safety

May 25, 2023 - Detroit, Michigan - For the second time within five years, a key figure at Universal Robots (UR), the Danish manufacturer of collaborative robots (cobots), has been awarded the world’s most prestigious robotics prize, the Joseph F. Engelberger Robotics Award, often described as the Nobel Prize of robotics.

Following in the footsteps of UR’s co-founder Esben Ƙstergaard, who was given the Engelberger Award in 2018 in the Technology category, Roberta Nelson Shea, UR’s Global Technical Compliance Officer received the award for Applications at a ceremony last night at the Automate Show in Detroit.

The Application category recognizes individuals or organizations that have made a significant contribution to the development of robotics technology and its practical application. Nelson Shea won the award for her outstanding work related to robotics safety across the world. For over 45 years, Nelson Shea has been a central figure in the development of industrial robot safety standards in North America and around the world. As the convenor of the ISO committee, she led the introduction of ISO/TS 15066, which is the first document that defines standardized safety requirements within human-robot collaboration.

“I am extremely honored to be receiving this award,” she said. “I see it as an acknowledgement of not just my own work, but also of Universal Robots’ and Teradyne’s commitment to safety. This award is a recognition of all who have contributed to robot safety over the years. When I started in this field more than four decades ago, I felt I had a personal mission and that there was no one else who signed up for it with me. Now, especially after the emergence of collaborative robot applications, we are all aligned on the importance of safety.”

In recent years, other women have received Engelberger Awards, and this is another indication of how robotics has evolved since UR’s Global Technical Compliance Officer first started in the industry in 1982. “Luckily, I am not the first woman to receive this award, but with women still being outnumbered in the robotics industry, I hope my career can also be an inspiration to younger women because they have an important role to play in the future development of both robotics and technology in general.”

Kim Povlsen, president, Universal Robots, has also acknowledged Nelson Shea’s achievements. “This award is a testament to the great contribution Roberta has made to the robotics industry. In robotics, and especially when it comes to cobots, safety is always the top priority. Roberta’s dedication to safety has helped create the standards for the interaction between people and robots. This has been a vital contribution to the collaborative relationship we see today between humans and cobots across thousands of workplaces,” Kim Povlsen said.


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