KUKA Innovation Award 2015

The winner of the KUKA Innovation Award 2015 has been announced: The research team from Italy was chosen as the winner at Hanover Fair. With their "ReTeLINK" development, they won the €20,000 competition.

The winners: Team ReTeLINK

The winners of the KUKA Innovation Award 2015 with their “ReTeLINK” solution.

The team comes from the Wearable Robotics Laboratory at the Institutio di BioRobotica of the Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna in Italy. They convinced the judges with their application, in which a data link is established between two flexible robot arms: the arm of the KUKA LBR iiwa and a newly developed upper arm exoskeleton (shoulder elbow). The sensor-guided exoskeleton, through which the joint angles of the shoulder and elbow are recognized, enables people to move the lightweight robot like their own arm. The motors of the exoskeleton reproduce the forces generated by the interaction of the LBR iiwa with its environment. This allows telepresence and rehabilitation applications to be implemented.

The winning team from the Biorobotics Institute of Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna in Pisa.

Human-robot collaboration: exoskeleton communicates with the LBR iiwa 

During the competition for the Innovation Award 2015, the winning team created a way to tele-operate a robot that is improved, more natural and more intuitive. “ReTeLINK” does what conventional haptic devices achieve through virtual reality. However, the application also connects two real physical systems with their own inertia, compliance and impedance. As a result, both robots (the exoskeleton and the LBR iiwa) use compliance features inspired by nature for safe interaction with an unstructured environment

The two robots can even trade roles – for example, in order for a person to be entrusted with control of the LBR iiwa. This enables a remote object wearing the exoskeleton to initiate movements. This innovative form of human-robot collaboration offers enormous potential for clinical tele-rehabilitation. Beyond this, ReTeLINK is an interesting tool for advanced neuro-biomechanical studies in the field of human motor sensory systems.

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