Prestigious award for network researcher

Prestigious award for network researcher

The prestigious ABB Research Award in Honor of Hubertus von Grünberg is bestowed only every third year and distinguishes external researchers. The latest laureate, Ambuj Varshney, is being recognized for ongoing research into making networked embedded systems more sustainable and data-gathering in industry easier.

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Reiner Schoenrock ABB Corporate ­Communications Zürich, Switzerland, reiner.schoenrock@ch.abb.com

The ABB Research Award in Honor of Hubertus von Grünberg, named after the former Chairman of the Board of Directors of ABB, is selected by a prominent jury from among more than 60 submissions. Granting $300,000 to support ongoing research over a three year period, the award is one of the world’s highest endowed research prizes to be offered by a company.

The award has been bestowed on 33 year-old Ambuj Varshney. Varshney received his PhD in Computer Science in May 2018 from Uppsala University, Sweden. He was recognized at a ceremony in Dättwil, Switzerland, for his research on designing sustainable Networked Embedded Systems (NES).

The jury praised Varshney’s innovative approach, identifying interconnected challenges that affect the sustainability of NES systems, such as co-­existence on the shared wireless spectrum, energy consumption and the cost of the deployment and maintenance.

01 Ambuj Varshney was awarded the prestigious ABB Research Award at a ceremony in ABB's research center at Dättwil, Switzerland.
01 Ambuj Varshney was awarded the prestigious ABB Research Award at a ceremony in ABB's research center at Dättwil, Switzerland.

In one of his major research projects, Varshney developed an ultra-low power and long-range communication system (LoRea) for battery-free sensors that harvest small amounts of energy from the ambient environment. He has demonstrated their ability to communicate over distances of up to a few kilometers while consuming only tens of microwatts. His research could lead to the deployment of battery-free and sustainable NES technology. He intends to further pursue this approach in his submitted – and now award-winning – postgraduate research project “Towards Future Factories: Enabling Sustainable Sensing”.

The past years have seen a rapid growth in NES applications. As the number of connected devices on the Internet of Things (IoT) grows relentlessly, sustaining their large-scale deployment is a critical challenge. In the jury’s opinion, Varshney’s approach is suitable for supporting NES in a sustainable manner for long periods without negatively impacting their physical or the radio environment. Varshney`s research can lay the groundwork for collecting large amounts of evaluable data in industries of all kinds paving the way for advanced data analytics.

The award
The ABB Research Award in Honor of Hubertus von Grünberg, which is presented every three years, honors the best PhD. dissertation leading to a 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 1.

The jury paid special attention to specific real-world applications and potential for innovation in addition to the benefit of the research to society and the environment.

The research award is dedicated in honor of the achievements of Hubertus von Grünberg, who served as ABB Chairman from 2007 to April 2015. Von Grünberg, a theoretical physicist who wrote his doctoral dissertation in 1970 on Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity, was instrumental in setting ABB on a path to sustainable growth. It is his legacy that supporting research, both at universities and within the company, has become a strategic imperative for ABB. Investing some $1.3 billion per year in R&D and operating numerous research centers around the world makes ABB one of the most innovative companies worldwide in driving the digital transformation of industries.

The prize decision was made by a renowned international jury consisting of Dr. Hubertus von Grünberg, Prof. Nina Thornhill (Imperial College London), Prof. M. Granger Morgan (Carnegie Mellon University Pittsburgh), Prof. Roland Siegwart (ETH Zurich), Prof. C.L. Philip Chen (University of Macau, Taipa, Macau) and Bazmi Husain, Chief Technology Officer of ABB. 

Footnote
1) Schoenrock R., “$300,000 research award, ABB creates an award to honor and support outstanding postdoctoral research,” ABB Review 3/2015, pp. 60–61.

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