First Annual University of Pennsylvania Y-Prize Competition: Four Finalists Battle for the Rights to Commercialize Penn-Owned Robots

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Y PRIZEContenders include: First-response security system; Remote building inspection device; IED aerial detection tool; Roaming animal medication dispenser.

Philadelphia, PA—The University of Pennsylvania Y-Prize Competition ( has announced the four finalists who will battle for $5000 and rights to commercialize their application of Penn-owned robotics technology at the first annual Y-Prize Grand Finale taking place Monday, February 4, 2013 at 5:00 p.m. at the School of Engineering and Applied Science (Penn Engineering)’s Levine Hall on the University of Pennsylvania campus. The event, which will feature live demonstrations, is free and open to the public.

Co-sponsored by Penn Engineering, the Weiss Tech House, the Center for Technology Transfer, and the Wharton School, the Y-Prize is a brand new competition in which student teams propose innovative commercial applications for technology invented by University of Pennsylvania researchers. In this inaugural year, the focal technology is robotics developed by Penn Engineering professors Daniel E. Koditschek, Vijay Kumar, and Mark Yim at Penn’s General Robotics Automation Sensing and Perception (GRASP) laboratory. Professors Kumar and Yim are joined as co-organizers by David Hsu, Associate Professor of Management at the Wharton School and Associate Faculty Director of the Weiss Tech House, making the competition a true cross University collaboration.

The Y-Prize Grand Finalists are:

  1. Copter: Large scale security surveillance and first-response system for college campuses, residential communities, and office spaces
  2. American Robotic Construction Corporation (ARC Co.): Construction industry tool to streamline inspections and track building progress
  3. Identified: Aerial detection of IEDs (improvised explosive devices) to prevent loss of human life in war zones
  4. Robot-Assisted Vaccination and Early Notification (RAVEN): Delivering and injecting medication to roaming cattle and monitoring their health

The teams will go head-to-head at the Y-Prize Grand Finale with 10-minute presentations followed by a brief Q&A time to a judging panel of leading industry figures and venture capitalists who will then evaluate the market potential and technical feasibility of each proposal. The winning team will receive $5000 and non-exclusive rights to commercialize the Penn-owned technology that their proposal is based upon. The Y-Prize Grand Finale takes place from 5–7 p.m. on February 4 at Penn Engineering’s Wu & Chen Auditorium in Levine Hall and will be followed by a reception, during which the winning team will be announced.

The Y-Prize is a standout opportunity for members of the entire Penn community to come together and develop ideas for commercializing the university’s world-class research. Because teams must possess a balance of skills in science, information technology, and business, the contest promotes intercollegiate cooperation and collaboration among the University’s schools.

Each team must consist of at least one current Penn student. Taking part are students from Penn Engineering, the Wharton School, the School of Arts and Sciences, the Perelman Medical School, and from non-Penn-affiliated Swarthmore College and Harrisburg Area Community College.

The four finalist teams were each awarded $500 and tech consulting to develop their ideas. Tech consultants are graduate students who worked on the robots alongside faculty in the GRASP lab. Several team members from among this year’s finalists have already achieved important distinctions and milestones. For instance, Copter members founded and Crowdquest, both Wharton Venture Initiation Program members.

Very limited seating to attend the Y-Prize Grand Finale event is available to the Penn community and public by registering at the Y-Prize website:

Media should register to attend by emailing or calling media relations contacts Peter Winicov (215-746-6471 or or Evan Lerner (215-573-6604 or

About the Y-Prize

In a cross University collaboration, the University of Pennsylvania announces the Y-Prize competition, in which members of the Penn community compete to propose the best applications for an existing technological solution and compete to win $5000. The event is co-sponsored by the School of Engineering and Applied Science, the Mack Center at the Wharton School, the Center for Technology Transfer, the Weiss Tech House, Wharton Innovation Group, and supported in part by funding from the National Science Foundation. Corporate Sponsors include Lockheed Martin, SRI International, and First Round Capital. More information can be found at the Prize Website:

About the Wharton School

Founded in 1881 as the first collegiate business school, the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania is recognized globally for intellectual leadership and ongoing innovation across every major discipline of business education. With a broad global community and one of the most published business school faculties, Wharton creates economic and social value around the world. The School has 5,000 undergraduate, MBA, executive MBA, and doctoral students; more than 9,000 annual participants in executive education programs; and a powerful alumni network of 91,000 graduates.

About Penn’s School of Engineering and Applied Science

For over 150 years, Penn Engineering’s world-acclaimed faculty, state-of-the-art research laboratories and highly interdisciplinary curricula has offered a learning experience that is unparalleled. Undergraduate and graduate programs are offered in bioengineering, chemical and biomolecular engineering, computer and information science, computational biology, digital media design, electrical and systems engineering, networked and social systems engineering, materials science, mechanical engineering and applied mechanics, nanotechnology, robotics, and telecommunications. Engineering is also home to 14 research institutes and centers conducting innovative interdisciplinary research, epitomizing Penn founder Benjamin Franklin’s idea of joining education and research for a practical purpose.

About the Weiss Tech House

The Weiss Tech House is a student-run hub of technological innovation at the University of Pennsylvania that encourages and supports students in the creation, development and commercialization of innovative technologies. Since 2003, students explore, collaborate and learn as part of our community of innovators. Here students can apply for space and funding in which to make their idea a reality or meet with successful inventors.   Among the resources students can access at the Weiss Tech House are labs in which to build their project, group meeting and study space, a computer lab, a student lounge, workshop series and a mentoring program.  Learn the full range of what this hub has to offer by visiting

Media Contacts:

Peter Winicov

Wharton Communications

215-746-6471 or


Evan Lerner

Penn Communications

215-573-6604 or