04 May 2011

euRobotics Technology Transfer Award 2011

AT THE European Robotics Forum held earlier this month in Västerås, Sweden, 340 robotic specialists were presented with the finalists of the 2011 euRobotics Technology Transfer Award.  The award, now in its eighth year, has become the most prestigious award in the European robotics community.  The jury was looking for a unique collaboration between research and industrial partners leading to outstanding innovation with proven potential for significant economic impact.

Martin Hägele, a jury member and head of the Department of Robot Systems at Fraunhofer IPA, commented: “The judges awarded the first prize to the Lightweight Robot developed by KUKA and DLR – Institute of Robotics and Mechatronics – because, being developed over more than a decade, it is mature technology that could open up numerous robotic applications in our daily life, such as in manufacturing, services and medicine.”

From the outset, the KUKA-DLR Lightweight Robot (LWR) was developed to imitate a human arm’s dexterity, sensing and strength.  Simultaneously it is also less dangerous and easier to program than existing robots, making it ideal for tasks which require close human-robot interaction.  The LWR is more portable and energy-saving than robots with comparable payloads, making it particularly suitable for mobile robot applications.

Dr. Alin Albu-Schaeffer (DLR) and Dr. Ralf Koeppe (KUKA) accepted the award, representing the DLR and the KUKA developer teams. Dr. Ralf Koeppe said: “We are committed to co-operative working between robots and people, so this means you can touch our robot anywhere and still be safe, thanks to the torque control we’ve built into the joints. We’ve succeeded in combining safety and force with vision to create a robot capable of learning through demonstration, yet still accurate to just tens of microns.  The LWR is the first robot to be rated safe to operate without a protective fence – a historic milestone.  We believe the world is now our oyster in developing applications for LWR and its variants.”

Second prize went to 3B Scientific’s SIMone, an extraordinary, interactive robotic birth simulator, developed by TU München, ETH Zurich and 3B Scientific.  SIMone aims to reduce the number of caesarean sections and incidence of cerebral palsy as a result of incorrect use of forceps and vacuum extraction.  At the core of SIMone is a force controlled kinematic structure, which is actuated to rotate the baby realistically as it moves through the birth canal with position and force sensors to record forces and torques applied by the forcesps or vacuum tool. The physiological model incorporates forces generated by friction, elastic tissues, uterine contractions and the user’s attempts to extract the baby.  3B Scientific has already sold 50 systems worldwide of this advanced training tool for medical students and doctors.

The other finalists in the euRobotics Technology Transfer Award were: Fits.me, an Estonian start-up company which has, jointly with Tallinn University, developed an on-line fitting room for clothing retailers using robotic mannequins, Surgenius, a surgical robot developed by Surgica Robotica and the University of Verona and Workerbot, a human inspired , dual armed robot, created by a collaboration between pi4_robotics and Fraunhofer Institute for Production Systems and Design Technology, IPK. 

“We have never had so many different robotics fields represented in the Technology Transfer session. It shows that robotics technology is penetrating more and more fields and markets”, stated Henrik A. Schunk, managing partner of SCHUNK and chairman of EUnited Robotics.  The Technology Transfer session was one of the highlights of the European Robotics Forum.  Supported by the European Commission through the euRobotics Co-ordination Action, the event attracted delegates from industry and academia, as well as entrepreneurs and public investors, to discuss the latest developments, research challenges and business opportunities for European robotics.  The motto of this year`s Forum was "Enabling innovation - from research to products" with the award session featuring five successful examples of research generating real products entering the market.

To enhance excellence in applied research and to raise the profile of technology transfer from research to industry, the Technology Transfer Award has been awarded annually since 2003. 

Further Links

Jury members
Representing industry:
- Christoffer Apneseth, ABB Robotics
- Roko Tschakarow, SCHUNK
- Anne Wendel, EUnited Robotics

Representing research and academia:
- Herman Bruynickx, KU Leuven
- Martin Hägele, Fraunhofer IPA
- Jon Agirre Ibarbia, Fatronik-Tecnalia

The KUKA / DLR Team, winner of the first prize on April 7, 2011 - Aros Congress Center, Västerås  
Finalists at the euRobotics Technology Transfer Session on April 7, 2011 -  Aros Congress Center, Västerås  


euRobotics Technology Transfer Award - pictures to download (zip file) 

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