Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg
Optimization in Robotics and Biomechanics


Prof. Dr. Katja Mombaur

Head of Optimization, Robotics and Biomechanics Chair and of Robotics Lab

Part of ZITI - Institute of Computer Engineering of Heidelberg University

External Member of IWR - Interdisciplinary Center for Scientific Computing of Heidelberg University


Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg
Optimierung, Robotik & Biomechanik (ORB)
Institut für Technische Informatik (ZITI)
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
  • Change of human motions by age and different pathologies
  • 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
  • Improving walking motions of humanoid robots
  • Transferring principles of human motions to humanoid robots
  • Robot benchmarking
  • Open-loop stable walking and running of simple robots
  • From human to humanoid yoyo playing
  • Art Robots
  • Optimal trajectories for UAVs

Mathematical Methods 

  • Optimal control of hybrid dynamical systems
  • Inverse optimal control
  • Combination of optimal control methods with movement primitives and learning methods
  • 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 Science, Computer Engineering, Mathematics and Scientific Computing at Heidelberg University. 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 at University of Heidelberg at IWR (2010 - 2017) and at the Institute of Computer Engineering (since 2017)
  • 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: 22.11.2017 - 08:10

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