[robotics-worldwide] [news] Antal Bejczy passing
paolo.fiorini at univr.it
Mon Jun 29 22:42:52 PDT 2015
it is with deep sadness that we inform the robotics community of Antal Bejczy passing, last
Thursday. We have known him for decades and he has been a close friend and a professional mentor for
many of our generation of robotics scientists. It is a great loss for us and for the whole community.
Paolo Fiorini, Hari Nayar, Edwin Kan, Blake Hannaford, Sukhan Lee, Ed Barlow, Susan Sease, Eva
Bokor, Wayne Zimmerman.
Antal (Tony) K. Bejczy (January 16, 1930 – June 25, 2015) passed away peacefully in Los Angeles
(CA), after several months of illness.
During his 50-year distinguished career in science and engineering, Tony made unique and fundamental
contributions to robot modeling and applications, by developing the first robot dynamic algorithm
and by enhancing teleoperation systems with automatic functions and novel human-robot interfaces.
Tony received his bachelor’s degree from the Technical University of Budapest, Hungary, and his
master’s and doctorate in applied physics in 1963 from Oslo Science University, Norway. After
teaching at the Oslo Science University for 3 years, he began working at Caltech in 1966 on a
NATO/Fulbright fellowship. He transitioned in 1969 to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) where he
developed the first dynamic model of robotic manipulators based on the Lagrangian formulation.
Prompted by the need of space exploration, he moved to the field of teleoperation, where he
developed, and sponsored through NASA Telerobotics program, a number of prototypes aimed at
achieving full telepresence in space as well as undersea. He pioneered the development of several
innovative robot components such as “smart hands” with “smart sensors” and a novel telerobotic
system using a general-purpose force-reflecting hand controller for remote robot arm control, which
contributed to the birth of haptics research.
During the course of his career at JPL, Tony was awarded 43 NASA innovation awards, 7 US patents,
published more than 160 technical papers, and 11 book chapters. He was principal investigator of a
flight experiment using a force-moment sensor enhanced “hand” on the space shuttle arm of the Space
Shuttle Columbia in 1994. He was president of the IEEE Council on Robotics and Automation in 1987
and helped move it to Society status, later serving as a member of the Society’s governing board. He
received several IEEE awards, including the Pioneer in Robotics and Automation (2004), the
Distinguished Service (2007), and the IEEE Robotics and Automation Award (2009) awards, and many
NASA awards, including the Exceptional Service Medal and Group Achievement Award (both 1994). An
IEEE Life Fellow, Tony retired as a senior research scientist from JPL in 2001. Following his
retirement, as an IEEE Distinguished Lecturer, he continued to give lectures and talks around the
world on space and medical applications of robotics, two areas of special interest to him. He took
an active interest in robotics education and research in Hungary later in his career. For his
efforts, he was awarded the Gabor Baross and György Széchenyi awards in 1997 and 1998 respectively.
He was also made an Honorary Professor at the Bánki Donát Polytechnic in Budapest in 1999. In his
honor, the Antal Bejczy Center for Intelligent Robotics was inaugurated in January 2015 at the
University of Óbuda in Budapest.
Tony was a popular figure at the conferences and meetings he attended. His friendly and unassuming
personality generated many close friendships and national and international collaborations. He
mentored many young researchers who have become leaders in the robotics community today. Besides his
passion for robotics, Tony enjoyed classical music and gardening. He was an avid collector of fine
art. He was also an active member of the Hungarian community in the Los Angeles area. He is
survived by his beloved wife of 58 years, Margit (Margo).
A Memorial Service will be held at St. Stephen Catholic Church3705 Woodlawn Ave, Los Angeles, CA
90011 on July 11 at 12:30 pm. In lieu of flowers, please make donation to saintstephencatholic.org
(St. Stephen Catholic Church, 3705 Woodlawn Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90011) and/or the Hungarian Scouts
Association (c/o Attilla Toth, 32316 Phantom Drive, Rancho Palos Verdes, CA 90275).
Prof. Paolo Fiorini, PhD
Department of Computer Science, University of Verona
Ca' Vignal 2 - Strada Le Grazie 15, 37134 VERONA - Italy
Ph: +39 045 802 7963 -- Fax: +39 045 802 7068
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