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ctrlX developR Challenge: And the winners are …

On July 13, participants took to the stage for the final of the ctrlX developR Challenge. Developers from all over the world had risen to the challenge of developing new ideas for futuristic automation solutions and putting these ideas into practice. All the sleepless nights, excitement and passion finally paid off. The results exceeded everyone’s expectations. Unexpected business potential with ctrlX AUTOMATION became apparent, new connections were made and the fun factor was high on all sides. Five finalists ultimately won over the distinguished jury with managers from EPLAN, KUKA and SICK, together with Rolf Najork, Member of the Board of Management of Robert Bosch GmbH.

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 would have thought that table tennis or vinyl records could have something to do with automation?

Eight participants made it into the final with their project ideas. At the two-day ctrlX developR Conference 2022 in Ulm, they presented their results. 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 presentation. After that, it was a case of: Lights off, spotlight on…

The winners are:

  • Andreas Schiffler (DE): “Anomaly detection using Isolation Forest”
  • Matthias Dittrich (DE): “IoT solution for wireless sensor systems based on MQTT”
  • Phillip Stanley-Marbell (UK): “Estimating uncertainty in empirical sensor data for faster and more reliable AI applications”
  • Cesare Bornaghi (IT): “Connecting industrial cameras with ctrlX AUTOMATION and adding AI algorithms”


The special prize for students went to:

  • Sabari Kannan Muthalagu (DE): “Automation system for controlling smoke extraction for soldering stations in laboratories”

They all won over the jury with their innovative technological approaches, the clever way in which they put their ideas into practice and their great enthusiasm. The participants’ passion for their projects could really be felt on the stage. And they fired up the jury too.

ctrlX developR Conference

From machine learning and IoT to AI

With his project, Andreas Schiffler created a use case which, in the eyes of the jury, offers great market potential. “Anomaly detection using Isolation Forest on ctrlX CORE is used to automatically monitor a series process, e.g. pressing in a rubber part, with no need for prior knowledge,” said Andreas Schiffler. After data acquisition, storage and exploration, a model is trained which runs in parallel with the process later on. As a result, anomalies can be identified. This process assessment is then fed into a streaming analysis and, if thresholds are exceeded, is transferred to a mobile phone via push message. This machine learning process can also be adapted to suit other application scenarios.

Matthias Dittrich too won over the jury with his idea and how he carried out his project. On the basis of ctrlX AUTOMATION, he came up with a key development for the foundry industry and other sectors. The use case presented focused on an IoT solution for wireless sensor connectivity. “This project bridges the gap between the OT and IT world in various industrial environments. Typical sensor interfaces connect data wirelessly with the IT world, making it easy to use for various machines. This results in benefits when it comes to process analysis and optimization,” said Matthias Dittrich.

With his project, Phillip Stanley-Marbell ventured into the world of artificial intelligence. “People are making more and more decisions with the help of AI. But how can we trust the algorithms or machines when we are unsure ourselves?” he said, asking the central question. Phillip Stanley-Marbell therefore added new functions to ctrlX AUTOMATION, allowing it to be use to track down uncertainties in data in order to make sound, data-based decisions. He emphasized how easy it is for developers to use ctrlX AUTOMATION.

Cesare Bornaghi has made it possible to connect any industrial camera to ctrlX CORE and to add AI algorithms using standards such as ONNX for image analysis. He gave his predictions for the future: “This project could lead to a standardization consortium which develops data and image transfer standards for embedded image processing systems which also contain parameters for modern deep learning frameworks.” The product which is known as CAM-ALL-IA will serve as a standard for the embedded integration of image processing systems into the ctrlX AUTOMATION ecosystem. The jury was particularly impressed by the advanced stage of development and the marketing concept which is already highly sophisticated.

The special prize for students went to Sabari Kannan Muthalagu with his demonstration for setting up an automation system for controlling smoke extraction at soldering stations in laboratories. “Normally, the smoke extractors are turned on all the time, which uses more electricity. Or users have to switch them on and off manually during work. In order to avoid energy wastage, it made sense to develop and install an automation system to control the extractor systems,” said Sabari Kannan Muthalagu.

ctrlX developR Conference Participants

An opportunity for everyone

It was a big challenge for everyone involved, but it was also a huge success. The competition which was a first for Bosch Rexroth made it possible to see the bigger picture. Once again, it became clear that ctrlX AUTOMATION is a system which offers endless possibilities. At the same time, people from different countries were able to share ideas. All participants and mentors are now part of the ctrlX AUTOMATION Community. Some of them have already got together to carry out further projects. This is exactly what supports the Bosch Rexroth 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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Jasmin Heim

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