KUKA at ICRA 2018

From 21 to 25 May 2018, the “IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation” (ICRA) took place in Brisbane, Australia. KUKA was showcasing two innovative applications from the field of human-robot collaboration and sponsoring the Best Paper Award in the field of service robotics.

ICRA is one of the most important conferences in the fields of robotics and automation. Around 2,500 experts from research and industry meet here to present and discuss new research approaches. Besides presenting two innovative applications, KUKA is acting as a sponsor of the Best Paper Award in the field of service robotics. As part of the event, young scientists from around the world were able to submit scientific papers. The scientific award was presented at the IEEE RAS Awards Lunch on May 24th.


We are committed to always being at the cutting edge of research and development. The technology transfer between KUKA – as an innovative company – and the universities – with their entirely new research results – is very important for us in order to jointly implement ground-breaking ideas in the field of robotics.

Dr. Rainer Bischoff, Head of Corporate Research at KUKA Deutschland GmbH

KUKA robot as an assistant in the operating room

Together with Queensland University of Technology (QUT), KUKA was presenting an application for knee arthroscopy in the medical sector. Learning and performing such a procedure is no simple exercise for surgeons since it requires navigating the instruments through tiny spaces in the knee joint.

This is where the KUKA LBR iiwa lightweight robot comes into play. The application shows how the robot can autonomously perform a 4D ultrasound examination on a phantom knee.

The force and torque monitoring of the robot enables the pressure to be kept constant during image acquisition while adapting to the shape at the same time. During the operation, an ultrasound imaging system monitors both the soft tissue and the tools in real time and in 3D. Beyond this, machine learning was used to develop an image interpretation algorithm which automatically evaluates ultrasound images. The robot thus becomes a reliable and safe assistant to doctors.

The LBR iiwa lightweight robot brings the possibilities of human-robot collaboration to life at ICRA by demonstrating two applications

Playful duel with the LBR iiwa

The second exhibit was developed by KUKA employees in Australia. It uses a game to demonstrate the possibilities of human-robot collaboration. This, once again, involves a sensitive KUKA LBR iiwa which plays tic-tac-toe with conference attendees. Conference attendees begin a game with the robot by placing an “X” or an “O” on the grid. They then touch the robot to let it know that it is its turn. The LBR iiwa determines its move using an algorithm and places a symbol on the grid.
Duel against an ICRA participant.

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