ZEISS Colloquium

Innovation Talk

The ZEISS Colloquium Innovation Talk will focus on current topics in science. The ZEISS Colloquium offers a platform for scientists outside ZEISS who work in various disciplines to present their research in a one-hour Innovation Talk followed by a discussion.

Speech by Dr. Torsten Kröger

Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT)

Dr. Torsten Kröger

Dr. Torsten Kröger from the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) gave a talk at 4 p.m. on Monday 9 July at the ZEISS Forum in Oberkochen titled “People and Robots: A (R)evolutionary Story of Collaboration". He presented an overview of current methods and concepts in robotics, particularly those using machine learning. In his hour-long speech, he presented the current potentials and challenges in order to integrate robots more and more into new value chains.

People and robots are working more and more closely together. The perceptive skills of robots are constantly improving, which means they’ll be able to perform more and more complex tasks in an increasing number of applications. Cameras and force and torque sensors, coupled with machine learning algorithms, are opening up new possibilities – the first systems are already capable of learning, moving and perceiving their environment. How do these systems work and what does the future hold for them?

Karlsruhe Institute of Technology

Torsten Kröger is a professor at the Institute for Anthropomatics and Robotics (IAR) and is in charge of Intelligent Process Automation and Robotics (IPR) at KIT in Karlsruhe. He is also a guest scientist at Stanford University.

Torsten Kröger studied electrical engineering at the Technical University of Brunswick, Germany, and completed his PhD in Informatics in 2009. In 2010 he became a lecturer and post-doc at the Stanford AI Lab. He is the founder and former CEO of Reflexxes, a startup that launched the software for deterministic robot motion planning in real time. In 2014 Reflexxes was acquired by Google. From 2014 to 2017 he worked in robotics and then as Head of Robot Software at Google X. He was honored with the IEEE RAS Distinguished Service Award (2018), the IEEE RAS Early Career Award (2014), the Heinrich Büssing Prize (2011) and the GFFT Award (2011). He is currently Vice President of the IEEE Robotics and Automation Society.


ZEISS Colloquium – Innovation Talk: Torsten Kröger, Professor at the Institute for Anthropomatics and Robotics (IAR), Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), Karlsruhe


Monday 9 July 2018, 4–5 p.m.


ZEISS Forum, Carl-Zeiss-Strasse 22, Oberkochen

ZEISS will invite the public and employees who are interested to attend. Participation shall be free of charge; please register for the event.

Past Speeches

Dr. Markus Sauer

Dr. Markus Sauer

Using High-Resolution Microscopes

Recent developments in fluorescence microscopy, which were honored with the Nobel Prize in 2015, allow scientists to investigate cells with an almost molecular resolution. This provides researchers with new findings on how nature manages cellular functions at the molecular level. In his speech, Sauer uses different examples to illustrate how high-resolution microscopes expand the possibilities of basic biomedical research and can help enhance diagnostics for cancer patients and personalized immunotherapies.

Sauer studied chemistry in Karlsruhe, Saarbrücken and Heidelberg, and completed his PhD in physical chemistry. In 1998 he received the BioFuture Award from the Federal Ministry of Education and Research. In 2003 he became Professor for Laser Physics at the University of Bielefeld, and in 2009 accepted the position of Chair of Biotechnology & Biophysics at the Julius-Maximilian University of Würzburg. Sauer is one of the pioneers of high-resolution fluorescence imaging and its applications.

Dr. Damian Borth

Dr. Damian Borth

State-of-the-art artificial intelligence

How machine neuronal networks think and learn

How do machines think and learn? In recent years, there has been a real surge in artificial intelligence. Big companies like Google, Facebook and Amazon are making substantial investments in research and development. Thanks to assistants like Alexa, self-driving cars that change the face of mobility, and applications like facial recognition, artificial intelligence is becoming an ever greater part of our home and work lives, and of society as a whole.

Three main factors behind the recent surge in these technologies are: big data sets, better computer hardware and mathematical models, neuronal networks and algorithm structures modeled on the human brain.

In his speech, Dr. Damian Borth explains what artificial intelligence and associated topics like machine learning really mean. He illustrates how he came to his breakthrough in 2012 and discusses today’s possibilities and challenges.

Dr. Damian Borth is one of the foremost researchers in the field of artificial intelligence. He is Head of the Deep Learning Competence Center at the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence in Kaiserslautern.


Prof. Jörg Wrachtrup
© Photo: David Ausserhofer

Prof. Jörg Wrachtrup

Photons and Spins: New Contrasts for Optical Microscopy

Optical microscopy is the most frequently used imaging process in the material and life sciences.

While in recent years spatial resolution has successfully been improved to some tens of nanometers, the method is still based on the tried-and-true contrast process like absorption, scattering, phase and fluorescence. However, combining fluorescence microscopy with quantum sensors enables completely new magnitudes like magnetic and electrical fields, and temperature, with a spatial resolution that had not previously been achieved.

In his speech, Prof. Wrachtrup explains the physical foundations of the technology as well as several applications. He will thus explain how a quantum sensor is used to easily transform a fluorescence microscope into a nuclear magnetic resonance device.

In 2000, Dr. Jörg Wrachtrup became a physics professor and Director of the 3rd Physics Institute at the University of Stuttgart. In 2010, he was a Max Planck Fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Solid State Research in Stuttgart. In 2008/09 he was Excellence Chair at the École Normal Supérieur in Paris (Cachan). Wrachtrup studied physics at the Free University in Berlin and qualified as a professor in 1998 from the Technical University of Chemnitz.

In 2016 he and Fedor Jelezko received the Carl Zeiss Research Award. In 2012 he was honored with the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Award, Germany’s foremost research accolade, and in 2014 with the Max Planck Research Award.

Dr. Reinhold Bauer

Dr. Reinhold Bauer

Flop as a Focus of Research

Learning from Failed Innovations

In the world of innovation, failures are more common than success! Nevertheless, failure has only rarely been the subject of research in the past. This is all the more regrettable as an analysis of failure may lead not only to a better understanding of why it happened, but also to a more comprehensive and realistic picture of technical change.

The announced lecture will use some examples of failed innovations to provide insights into the "anatomy of failure" and to highlight how research into failed innovations can contribute to a better understanding of technical development and change.

In 2011, Dr. Reinhold Bauer became Head of the History of the Impact of Technology department at the Institute of History, University of Stuttgart, Germany since 2011. Before this he was a scientist, scientific assistant and then a private lecturer for many years at the Helmut Schmidt University of the German Federal Army in Hamburg. The focal points of his work include the history of innovations, traffic history, the history of production organization and technology, and the economic history of "real socialist" states.

In addition, Dr. Bauer is Chairman of the German National Committee of the International Union for History and Philosophy of the Sciences/ Section for the History of Science and Technology (IUHPS/DHST), a member of the Committee of the History of Technology of the VDI and a member of the Scientific Management of the magazine Technikgeschichtegeschichte.