Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg
Optimization in Robotics and Biomechanics


Prof. Dr. Katja Mombaur

Head of Research Group Optimization in Robotics and Biomechanics at IWR and of IWR Robotics Lab

External Member of ZITI - Institute of Computer Engineering of the University of Heidelberg


Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg
Interdisziplinäres Zentrum für Wissenschaftliches Rechnen
Mathematikon B - 3rd floor - room L.100
Berliner Str. 45
D- 69120 Heidelberg

Ph. +49-6221-54-14870 (-14872)
Fax +49-6221-54-14898

email: katja.mombaur (at), kmombaur (at)

Research interests

Human motion

  • Modeling of human motions
  • Identification of optimality criteria of human motion
  • Dynamic stability of human motions
  • Emotional body language in human motions
  • Optimal motions in sports (running, diving, gymnastics)
  • Human locomotion trajectories (asymmetry properties, role of the head, ...)

Human motions in medical technology & rehabilitation

  • Optimization-based design of exoskeletons
  • Modeling, optimization and analysis of human motions with prostheses
  • Functional electrical stimulation for hemiplegic patients
  • Physical assistive devices for elderly people


  • Offline and online optimal control of humanoid motions
  • Transferring principles of human motions to humanoid robots
  • Open-loop stable walking and running of robots
  • From human to humanoid yoyo playing
  • Art Robots
  • Optimal trajectories for UAVs

Mathematical Methods 

  • Optimal control of hybrid dynamical systems
  • Inverse optimal control
  • Stability optimization
  • Eigenvalue optimization
  • Multi-body system modeling
  • Musculoskeletal modeling
  • Repetitive and iterative learning control

For more details, see Research


I teach different courses within the studies of Applied Computer Sciences, Mathematics and Scientific Computing at the University of Heidelberg. A detailed overview on current and previous teaching activities is given here.  

Other scientific activities

University services

  • Member of University Council (Universitätsrat), University of Heidelberg (2006 - 2008)
  • Member of the Senate's Committee for Quality Improvement in Education (SBQE) (since 2015)
  • Member of Selection Committee Master Applied Computer Science (since 2012)
  • Member of Selection Committee Master Scientific Computing (since 2015)
  • Member of Studienkommission Master Scientific Computing (since 2015)
  • Member of Prüfungskommission Master Scientific Computing (since 2016)
  • Member of many appointment committees at the department and the University (since 2005)

Short CV

Professional Experience

  • since 2010: W3-Professor for Scientific Computing at IWR, University of Heidelberg
  • 2008 - 2010: Visiting Scientist at LAAS-CNRS, Toulouse, Dept. of Robotics and Artifical Intellgence (RIA) Gepetto group
  • 2003 - 2008:  Lecturer and junior research group leader "Optimization in Robotics and Biomechanics" at IWR, University of Heidelberg
  • 2002: Postdoc at the Robotics Lab, Seoul National University, Seoul, South Korea
  • 1997 - 2001: Scientific assistant (Wissenschaftl. Angestellte) at IWR, University of Heidelberg1995 - 1997Systems Engineer and Technical Sales Representative at IBM Germany1991-1992Internship at Denro, Gaithersburg, USA


  • 1997-2001   Ph.D. studies at the University of Heidelberg
  • 2000   Research stay at Cornell University
  • 1989 - 1995   Studies of Aerospace engineering at the University of Stuttgart (Diploma/Master's degree) grade: "sehr gut", specialization in engineering mechanics and fluid mechanics
  • 1993 - 1994   Integrated Studies at the Ecole Nationale Supérieure de l'Aéronautique et de l'Espace in Toulouse , France (Sup'Aéro", Grande Ecole groupe A)
  • 1989   Abitur, Humboldtgymnasium Solingen

Scholarships and Awards

  • 2015 - 2016   Marsilius-Fellowship University of Heidelberg
  • 2006 - 2008   Eliteförderprogramm by the Foundation Landesstiftung Baden-Württemberg
  • 2004   Klaus-Georg und Sigrid Hengstberger Prize, University of Heidelberg
  • 2003 - 2006   Margarete von Wrangell-Scholarship by the State of Baden-Württemberg
  • 2003   Postdoc Scholarship of International Graduiertenkolleg IGK 710
  • 1993 - 1994   Scholarship German/French Association of Higher Education (DFHK)
  • 1989 - 1995   Scholarship Stiftungsfonds IBM Germany




K. Mombaur,
Last Update: 14.10.2016 - 15:32

The photographs in the header of this webpage have been taken at the Musee de l'Automate in Souillac, France