Robotic research on an academic level is focused on specific domains such as human-robot interfaces, mobility, manipulation, programming, and sensors. However, application of this generated knowledge can only be done by combining it for a general purpose. At AIRLab we put this into practice by combining the different research domains of robotics and build knowledge on the intersection of retail, AI and robotics.

AIRLab is always actively monitoring and researching in the field of robotics to see what the future has to bring and contribute to our mission: Redefine retail through technology. We believe that technology can assist associates in the future, making their daily jobs more enjoyable and sustainable.

We’d like you to join us on this mission! To drive the field of robotics research forward, we are organizing the AIRLab Stacking challenge. Within the AIRLab Stacking Challenge students and research teams from all over the world are invited to join us on our research on retail and robotics.

If you are a research team working on robotics, this challenge is for you. Join the AIRLab Stacking Challenge, in collaboration with YES!Delft, and help explore the future of retail. Winning teams will be awarded a cash prize. The focus of the challenge is to share knowledge and deep dive into the tech to better understand the ground principles of robotics.

The AIRLab Delft is the joint industry lab of Ahold Delhaize and the TU Delft, driving innovations at the intersection of retail, AI and robotics. It recently opened a test site where PhD researchers – supported by RoboValley and tech incubator YES!Delft – can work with partners, students and startups to build and test prototypes of robotic solutions. 

Help improve retail operations with smart robotic assistance

Retail processes are constantly evolving. Ahold Delhaize and AIRLab need the help of academics who have knowledge of human-robot interactions, mobility, manipulation, programming, and sensors to accelerate the introduction of robotics in retail. 

In the AIRLab Stacking challenge, teams will work on algorithms that focus on smart retail applications, for example, automated product stacking. Algorithms will be coded using a simulation that can later be deployed using the TIAGo robot developed by PAL Robotics. TIAGo is a mobile robot platform that is used for research in universities and innovation centers all over the world. It has a 7 DoF arm, a liftable torso, and a pan-tilt head. Its open-source software and modular hardware architecture make TIAGo highly customizable and adaptable to different purposes.

Software will be developed for the existing simulation TIAGo platform, so no large investments in resources and hardware are needed.

In-depth explanation of the platform will be given at the start of the challenge.

PAL Robotics will be available for technical support during the challenge.

During a briefing session, specific requirements for the assignments will be explained.

The programming assignments will be doable in a time span of 4 weeks. 


Who is this challenge for?

Students, researchers, and professors in the field of robotic automation are invited to participate in this challenge. Teams of 2-6 people can enroll.

The research teams should consist of enthusiastic people who have academic knowledge of robotic automation and want to use their knowledge to improve retail processes. Experience with similar challenges or the robot simulation tool ROS Gazebo is helpful, but not necessary.

Non-academic interests may be considered on a case-by-case basis

What to win?

Winning teams of the AIRLab Stacking Challenge will be awarded a cash prize to spend on a joint project with AIRLab Delft . There are three prizes:


Are you ready to deep dive into coding for robotics in retail? Then we are looking for you. Apply for the AIRLab Stacking Challenge and join one of the world’s largest retail groups in its research into robotics. 

Do you need more information? Ask your questions to our Head of Scouting, Andreea Bota, via

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