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Challenge completed!

Hands of many people doing a high-five together.

The ctrlX developR Challenge brought together the most talented developers with the most versatile, open and efficient automation system available on the market. On the basis of ctrlX AUTOMATION and the control platform ctrlX CORE, the 25 participants programmed like mad and broke completely new ground in the area of automation. Who’d have thought that table tennis or vinyl records could have something to do with automation? There were lots of valuable lessons – for us too.

But let’s look back first. The competition began with the registration phase (21.9.-31.12.2021). The response was incredible, with applications from a huge range of countries. In January 2022, we started getting ready. We selected the best 25 project ideas from the 68 applications that we received. The participants came from a very wide range of countries and competed in one of five categories: "Simplify engineering", "Extend and connect", "Smarten up automation", "Empower the user" and "Create your own". They all received a ctrlX CORE starter package and were given personal mentors (from within Bosch Rexroth and ctrlX World partner companies). After that, they could get started. OK… It wasn’t quite so simple.

“Participants had a number of questions for their mentors, particularly at the start of the challenge. A key issue was the fact that some of them needed extra hardware for their projects in addition to the ctrlX CORE starter package. Anything which we could get at short notice from our own stocks was sent out to the participants immediately. For parts which we don’t stock as part of our portfolio, we worked with ctrlX World partner companies or other friendly companies to find a solution. For example, one of our customers was willing to provide a battery module for a table tennis ball collecting robot. Working together, we made sure that everybody could get started quickly,” said Christian Zentgraf, manager of the Application & Technical Support department within Bosch Rexroth’s Automation Business Unit.

Challenge ACCEPTED!

The critical phase of the competition began on 11.2.2022. The participants had until 26.6. to put their ideas into practice. However, a good idea alone was not enough – business relevance also played a role. Participants must come up with a suitable marketing and sales concept which reveals the market potential, and developing this concept is as important as developing the idea itself. This is the only way to ensure that the finished product will have the potential to be used in the ctrlX AUTOMATION ecosystem.

During the Solution Phase, the participants regularly documented their results so far and presented them to the community. Hans-Michael Krause, Director Product Management ctrlX World at Bosch Rexroth, explained: “It was exciting to see the projects grow. With the ctrlX developR Challenge, we wanted to see how creative software developers could be when using ctrlX AUTOMATION. And we did just that! Even during the development process, we were amazed to see what the participants were able to do with ctrlX CORE. The Bosch Rexroth and ctrlX World mentors were surprised too. The fact that the participants came from so many different countries was refreshing and made the competition even better.”

At the start of July 2022, there was no going back. The pitch documents for the final Evaluation Phase were submitted and the finalists for the ctrlX developR Challenge were chosen by the mentors. As a result, we now knew who would have the opportunity to pitch their own project idea to the distinguished jury with managers from ePLAN, KUKA and SICK, together with Rolf Najork, Member of the board of management of Robert Bosch GmbH, during the ctrlX developR Conference in Ulm.


On 13.07.2022, all the sleepless nights, excitement and passion finally paid off. At the two-day ctrlX developR Conference at the TechPark in Ulm, the finalists presented their results during the pitch event. The jury assessed the pitches according to various main criteria: The idea and the approach, technical methods and implementation, added value, together with potential and the marketing concept and the final pitch presentation. The winners were then announced during the evening event, when it was a case of: Lights off, spotlight on… The winners are:

  • Andreas Schiffler: Anomaly detection using Isolation Forest
  • Matthias Dittrich: IoT solution for wireless sensor reading
  • Phillip Stanley-Marbell: Uncertainty-tracking capabilities make trustworthy data-driven decisions
  • Cesare Bornaghi: Connect any industrial camera to ctrlX AUTOMATION and add AI algorithms

The special award for students went to:

  • Sabari Kannan Muthalagu: Automation system to control the fume extraction for the soldering stations in the laboratories

They all impressed with their innovative technological approaches and their sophisticated implementation, as well as with a huge amount of enthusiasm. One could literally feel how the participants on stage were on fire for their respective projects. And they also sparked the jury's enthusiasm.

“It was really exciting to see what tasks beyond classic factory automation can be performed with ctrlX CORE – and the potential that our ctrlX World partners offer. Thanks to the open control architecture, a range of new applications were possible. We’d not even thought about some of these ourselves. The participants gave us valuable food for thought regarding future business fields and challenged us when it comes to implementing modern technologies such as machine learning. The challenge provided some very interesting input for further developing ctrlX AUTOMATION,” said Christian Zentgraf.

A Chance FOR ALL

The ctrlX developR Challenge made an important contribution towards innovations that have considerable practical benefits. The actual solutions developed from the winners’ ideas will ideally be incorporated into the ctrlX AUTOMATION system.

Hans-Michael Krause summed up: “It was a big challenge for us all, but it was a huge success. The competition – a first for us – showed that ctrlX AUTOMATION is a system which offers endless possibilities. Seeing the bigger picture certainly paid off. We were also able to encourage discussions. All participants and mentors are part of our community. Many of them have already got together to discuss important topics in more detail. This is exactly what supports our co-creation approach: The best solutions come about as part of group work – ideally during regular ctrlX developR Challenges which will hopefully take place in the future.”

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Portrait view of Jasmin Heim, Game Changer Marketing

Jasmin Heim

Game Changer



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