ABB Research Award 2019 goes to battery-free sensor project

US$ 300,000 grant goes to Ambuj Varshney for research into more sustainable Networked Embedded Systems (NES) and easier industrial data gathering

ABB has granted the second ABB Research Award in Honor of Hubertus von Grünberg to Dr. Ambuj Varshney for his research into an ultra-low power and long-range communication system (LoRea) for battery-free sensors that harvest small amounts of energy from the ambient environment. Varshney’s research, which will receive a grant of US$300,000 over three years, has the potential to pave the way for a wide-area deployment of battery-free sustainable Networked Embedded Systems (NES).

The 33-year old researcher, who received his Ph.D. in Computer Science in May 2018 from Uppsala University in Sweden, was recognized at a ceremony in Dättwil, Switzerland. He beat more than 60 applicants from leading institutions around the world.

NES applications are rapidly on the rise. As the number of connected devices is expected to grow to 50 billion in 2020, one of the critical research challenges will be to sustain large-scale deployment. The jury said that Varshney´s research could support NES in a sustainable manner for a long period, without negatively impacting physical or radio environment.

“Ambuj Varshney is a worthy recipient of this award because his innovative approach could dramatically increase our capacity to collect, transmit and ultimately analyze data in an environmentally sustainable manner and so help to pave the way to autonomous industries,” said Peter Voser, Chairman and CEO of ABB, at the award ceremony.

“This award will help me to take a major step towards the vision of a sustainable NES, which could have a significant impact across application domains, for example, future factories,” Varshney said. This award enables me to leverage more than a century of expertise of ABB in developing innovative technologies to move ahead in the exciting direction of backscatter communication.”

From left to right: Hubertus von Grünberg (former Chairman of ABB), Ambuj Varshney (award winner), Peter Voser (CEO and Chairman of ABB)
From left to right: Hubertus von Grünberg (former Chairman of ABB), Ambuj Varshney (award winner), Peter Voser (CEO and Chairman of ABB)

The ABB Research Award, which is presented every three years, honors the best Ph.D. dissertation leading to an excellent research proposal in the fields of electrical, mechanical or software engineering, electronics, robotics, artificial intelligence, process automation, and any related technical discipline, as applied in utilities, industries, and transport and infrastructure.

The next ABB Research Award will be granted in 2022.


The video profile of the Awardee can be downloaded here.

A clean split-track version (for local re-editing – mandatory source: ABB) can be downloaded here.


ABB (ABBN: SIX Swiss Ex) is a technology leader that is driving the digital transformation of industries. With a history of innovation spanning more than 130 years, ABB has four customer-focused, globally leading businesses: Electrification, Industrial Automation, Motion, and Robotics & Discrete Automation, supported by the ABB Ability™ digital platform. ABB’s Power Grids business will be divested to Hitachi in 2020. ABB operates in more than 100 countries with about 147,000 employees.


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