The “Nobel Prize” of Robotics – 9T1 Raffaello D’Andrea

Although alumnus Raffaello D’Andrea (EngSci 9T1) has been an engineering professor, entrepreneur and artist, he’s better known as the inventor of several types of autonomous robots — machines that can juggle, play soccer and also accomplish more practical tasks.

After graduating from U of T Engineering in 1991, D’Andrea co-founded Kiva Systems, a company that designs and builds large robotic systems that autonomously move, sort and distribute goods in warehouses. In 2012, Amazon acquired the firm for $775 million and incorporated hundreds of these self-propelled robots to fill orders in their distribution facilities.


In March, D’Andrea was recognized for advancing the field of robotics with the 2015 Engelberger Award from the Robotic Industries Association — sometimes called the “Nobel Prize” of robotics.

U of T Engineering recently sat down with D’Andrea — now a professor at ETH Zurich — to learn more about his cutting-edge robots, his entrepreneurial path and how strong fundamentals from U of T Engineering helped set him up for success. “What was really great about Engineering Science was that in addition to a deep understanding of fundamental math and physics, we also got to use that knowledge in various projects. The second year capstone design project really allowed us to use some of what we learned to do things we didn’t think we could do before we started our degrees.” READ MORE