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KUKA Innovation Award 2022

The "Robotics in Healthcare" challenge is about the interaction of robotic systems with humans in medical applications. Find out more!


Robotics in Healthcare Challenge

This year, the KUKA Innovation Award is all about medicine and healthcare. Because new technologies are playing an increasingly important role in healthcare and will be virtually indispensable in the future. Researchers, developers and young entrepreneurs from all over the world submitted their concepts for the "Robotics in Healthcare Challenge". An international jury of experts evaluated the concepts and selected our five finalists.

The teams have already received an initial training on the hardware and software and can now put their ideas into reality using an LBR Med provided free of charge and a vision system from the Munich-based company Roboception. KUKA will of course support the finalists with coaching from KUKA experts throughout the competition. The final of the Innovation Award will then take place at the MEDICA medical trade fair in November 2022. There, the teams will present their applications to a large audience of experts from industry and research, as well as media representatives and investors. The winning team will also win prize money of €20,000.

Meet our finalists

Team Ligō | Inventia Life Science | Australia

The Ligō device is a novel 3D bioprinting platform that supports the functional healing of skin tissue after acute skin injuries such as extensive burns. It is developed in Australia by an interdisciplinary team at Sydney-based start-up Inventia Life Science. The Ligō robot prints tiny droplets containing the patient's skin cells and optimized biomaterials into the wound directly in the operating room, combining the KUKA LBR Med and Inventia's patented 3D bioprinting technology. In this way, tissue-guided regeneration is stimulated, allowing the body to heal itself and restore healthy skin that improves the quality of life for skin injury survivors.

Deanna Hood from Team Ligo

Team AROKI | Indian Institute of Technology | India

Maternal health remains a staggering challenge, especially in developing countries. Many health centers in developing and underdeveloped countries lack basic facilities for prenatal ultrasound examinations and skilled personnel to perform them. Team AROKI from HTICIIT Madras in India aims to significantly improve the quality of maternal and prenatal care through the use of robotic solutions. The platform integrates the KUKA LBR Med to enable autonomous scanning, 3D ultrasound reconstruction and teleoperation with immersive virtual reality for visualization, monitoring and diagnosis.

Team AROKI

Team ROPCA | Ropca Holding | Denmark

ROPCA's vision is to develop a variety of robotic application platforms that help clinicians increase the productivity and quality of their daily work. The first product is ARTHUR - an ARTHritis Ultrasound Robot. The application consists of an automated ultrasound platform for examining patients with rheumatoid arthritis. The patient can interact directly with the platform and the doctor saves time in consulting the patient, as the ultrasound images for diagnosis are already available.

Team ROPCA

Team cortEXplore | cortEXplore GmbH | Austria

cortEXplore develops neuronavigation technologies for planning, simulation and execution of brain surgery. In this project, the team plans to implant neural interfaces with robotic assistance. Specifically, the robot will follow the surgical plan and implant microelectrodes into the brain. Such operations can be used to implement brain-computer interfaces or to study neural mechanisms of the brain.

Team cortEXplore

Team Brubotics | Vrije Universiteit Brussel | Belgium

Robots will play an increasingly important role in rehabilitation in the future, as rehabilitation robots can provide frequent and repetitive training as well as ergonomic working conditions for the therapist. New rehabilitation strategies are needed to improve the functional outcomes of robotic therapy. The team from Vrije Universiteit Brussel and imec is addressing these challenges by using the KUKA LBR Med in combination with a soft sensorized physical interface. Using integrated multimodal sensors, the team is able to add additional layers of safety and comfort and capture user intention to develop more flexible rehabilitation robots.

Kevin Patrice Langlois, Joris de Winter

Judges

The finalists already had the chance to present their concept to our international panel of judges. It consists of renowned professors, medical experts from industry, a renowned journalist, and a successful founder - experts who not only select the winner of the award but also give all finalists valuable feedback on their product. This exchange and the contact are often the starting point for further projects and collaborations.

  • Evan Ackermann

    Evan Ackerman is a senior editor at IEEE Spectrum, where he has been writing about robots, science, and emerging technology for over 10 years. After co-founding his own robotics blog in 2007, he began writing for IEEE Spectrum in 2011. In addition to Spectrum, Evan’s work has appeared in a variety of other websites and print magazines, and you may have heard him talking about robots on NPR’s Science Friday or the BBC World Service if you were listening at just the right time. Evan currently lives in Washington DC, and a steadily growing collection of robot vacuums. In his spare time, he enjoys scuba diving, rehabilitating injured raptors, and playing bagpipes excellently.

  • Prof. Dr. Alin Albu-Schäffer

    Alin Albu-Schäffer received the M.S. in electrical engineering from the Technical University of Timisoara, Romania in 1993 and the Ph.D. in automatic control from the Technical University of Munich in 2002. Since 2012 he is the head of the Institute of Robotics and Mechatronics at the German Aerospace Center (DLR), which he joined in 1995. Moreover, he is a professor at the Technical University of Munich, holding the Chair for "Sensor Based Robotic Systems and Intelligent Assistance Systems". His research interests range from robot design and control to robot intelligence and human neuroscience. He centrally contributed to the development of the DLR-light-weight robot and its technology transfer to the KUKA company, leading to a paradigm shift in industrial robot applications towards light-weight, sensitive and interactive robotics. Alin Albu-Schäffer was as well strongly involved in the development of the MIRO surgical robot system and its commercialization through technology transfer to Covidien/Medtronic, the worldwide largest medical devices manufacturer. He is author of more than 270 peer reviewed journal and conference papers and received several awards.

  • Axel Weber

    Axel Weber, born in 1978, is Vice President Medical Robotics at KUKA. The graduated engineer joined the Augsburg-based automation specialist via various stations and has been dedicated to the medical sector since 2012. KUKA is a leading supplier of robotic components for medical devices. It is the only globally operating robotics company with an entire business unit dedicated to medical robotics. KUKA robots are frequently being integrated in medical devices. The applications vary from diagnostics to therapy. Due to the product portfolio of KUKA, medical device companies can choose from cobots to robots with heavy payloads for carrying heavy medical equipment.

  • Joe Mullings

    Joe Mullings is the Chairman & CEO of The Mullings Group Companies, including TMG Search, Dragonfly Stories & TMG360 Media. The search firm is responsible for more than 8,000 successful searches in the medtech / healthtech industry with clients ranging from multi-billion-dollar companies to emerging tech startups. Dragonfly Stories is the media production company behind the Award-Winning video docuseries, “TrueFuture”, of which Joe Mullings is the host as well as generating attention and awareness for companies globally. In 2020, Joe Mullings was appointed Chief Visionary Officer for MRINetwork, Inc. where he guides the digital transformation of the MRINetwork bringing video storytelling strategies and techniques for talent access, which he innovated at The Mullings Group.

  • Dr. Kristina Wagner

    Dr. Kristina Wagner received her PhD from RWTH Aachen University at the Institute for Number Theory and the Institute for Control Engineering. In 2008, Kristina Wagner spent a research stay at Melbourne University, and in 2010 she kicked off her career in technology and process consulting at Siemens AG in Munich.
    Since October 2015, Kristina Wagner has held various management positions at KUKA. As Senior Vice President Technology and Innovation Center she drives robotics innovation and technology development together with her team. In her additional role as Director The Robot X-perience (iiQKA) she is responsible for KUKA's largest and key innovation program with the goal of redesigning and transforming KUKA's Robot Experience. As a result, the interaction between humans, tools and robots will be significantly improved.
    In 2021, Kristina Wagner was elected to the Board of euRobotics as well as to the digitalization board for the city of Augsburg.

     

  • Prof. Oussama Khatib

    Oussama Khatib received his PhD from Sup’Aero, Toulouse, France, in 1980. He is Professor of Computer Science and Director of the Robotics Laboratory at Stanford University. His research focuses on methodologies and technologies in human-centered robotics, haptic interactions, artificial intelligence, human motion synthesis and animation. He is President of the International Foundation of Robotics Research (IFRR) and a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE). He is Editor of the Springer Tracts in Advanced Robotics (STAR) series, and the Springer Handbook of Robotics, awarded the American Publishers Award for Excellence in Physical Sciences and Mathematics. He is recipient of the IEEE Robotics and Automation (IEEE/RAS) Pioneering Award (for his fundamental contributions in robotics research, visionary leadership and life-long commitment to the field), the IEEE/RAS George Saridis Leadership Award, the Distinguished Service Award, the Japan Robot Association (JARA) Award, the Rudolf Kalman Award, and the IEEE Technical Field Award. Professor Khatib is a member of the National Academy of Engineering.

  • Prof. Dr. Ir. Stefano Stramigioli

    Stefano Stramigioli is professor of Advanced Robotics at the University of Twente and chair of the Robotics And Mechatronics (RAM) Lab, a large lab of more than fifty people working on all different aspects of imaging, mechatronics and robotics. The group is broad and multidisciplinary. Thanks to its size and spectrum, it is able to compete at the international level with other research groups of similar or bigger sizes in their field.
    Stramigioli covers a number of additional external positions: He has been the founder of the first robotics center in the Netherlands LEO Center of Service Robotics (2008), (formerly known as Romech). He was also founder of RoboNED (2010), which is now transitioned to Holland Robotics. Furthermore, he currently serves a second term as Vice President Research of euRobotics, representing the private part of SPARC, the contractual PPP with the European Commission running the biggest Civil robotic program worldwide for the last years. He is also co-chairing the Bio-mechatronics and Energy-Efficient Robotics Lab at ITMO University, St.Petersburg, Russia.

Impressions from the Award 2021

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