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
Speyerer Str. 6
D- 69115 Heidelberg

Ph. +49-6221-54-14870 (-14872)
Fax +49-6221-54-5276

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 2010W3-Professor for Scientific Computing at IWR, University of Heidelberg
2008 - 2010Visiting Scientist at LAAS-CNRS, Toulouse, Dept. of Robotics and Artifical Intellgence (RIA) Gepetto group
2003 - 2008Lecturer and junior research group leader
"Optimization in Robotics and Biomechanics" at IWR, University of Heidelberg
2002Postdoc at the Robotics Lab, Seoul National University, Seoul, South Korea
1997 - 2001Scientific assistant (Wissenschaftl. Angestellte) at IWR, University of Heidelberg
1995 - 1997Systems Engineer and Technical Sales Representative at IBM Germany
1991-1992Internship at Denro, Gaithersburg, USA


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

Scholarships and Awards

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

Scholarship Stiftungsfonds IBM Germany




K. Mombaur,
Last Update: 03.06.2016 - 20:33

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