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March 2012

euRobotics Technology Transfer Award 2012

The ninth euRobotics Tech Transfer Award was presented during the European Robotics Forum 2012.  This year, the winner was ARMin, a system that enables robot-assisted neurorehabilitation of the arm.  Members of the team who carried off the 3,000 Euro first prize were also involved in last year’s second prize winner SIMone, an interactive robotic birth simulator.  

The roboticists who gathered in Odense, Denmark for the Forum on March 5th-7th heard presentations from all five finalists during the second day of the conference.  The prize was announced at the Gala Dinner held the same evening.  Henrik A. Schunk, managing partner of SCHUNK and chairman of EUnited Robotics, commented: “The Tech Transfer Award is awarded to groups or organisations that have been successful in transferring their research results into real-life, commercial systems.  With our members encompassing scientific labs and industry the Award encapsulates our ethos in its purest sense”

The winning presentation was given by Prof. Robert Riener from ETH Zurich and University of Zurich.  He was accompanied by his colleague and industrial partner, Dr. Alexander Duschau-Wicke from Hocoma AG, Switzerland.  Prof. Riener explained: “I came up with the concept for ARMin with my former PhD student, Tobias Nef, who is now a Professor at University of Berne, Switzerland.  Brains can relearn functions after neuro injuries, but successful rehabilitation is both time consuming and intense.  Patients naturally become frustrated and bored, so the medical professionals have tried a number of different approaches over the last 20 years.  These solutions have been found to be either too simple and therefore limited in their scope, or too complicated to use and therefore lacking robustness.”

ARMin is a robot-assisted arm training system that enables patients who have suffered from strokes or spinal cord injuries to put in the kind of intensive therapy required for the brain to recover critical functions.  The system has been extensively tested with patients at University Hospital Balgrist in Zurich, Switzerland.  


ARMin has already been launched as a product by the Swiss company, Hocoma, under the name Armeo®Power and is the world’s first commercially available robotic arm exoskeleton for neurorehabilitation.  The system has extended Hocoma’s well-established Armeo Therapy Concept.

Martin Hägele, head of the Robot Systems division of the Fraunhofer IPA, presented both the presentations and the awards.  “This year, the projects included TeleMax, a telerobotic product for use in hazardous environments, the Reflexxes Motion Libraries, a suite of algorithms to generate trajectories for robots on the fly, a new approach for service robotics software development and RobM@RKET, an autonomous mobile manipulator for packaging or kitting.  However, besides the demonstrated ingenious design it was the impressive route to market in only 18 months that led to the ARMin team being picked as winners.”


The team has been awarded two patents and the technology transfer covered much more than the robotic exoskeleton, as it includes CAD models, robot control software and games engines for motivating and instructing patients in their exercises.  Eleven ArmeoPower systems have already been sold and there is a strong global sales pipeline.  It certainly appears that ArmeoPower has great potential to offer a real future for people with paralysis and the team is now developing a small version specifically aimed at helping children with cerebral palsy.

 Jury members

Representing industry:
- Rainer Bischoff, KUKA, Germany
- Elmo Schreder, EUnited Robotics
- Dr. Gisbert Lawitzky, Siemens AG, Germany

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

The euRobotics Techology Transfer Award prize is sponsored by the following members of EUnited Robotics: ABB, COMAU, GÜDEL, KUKA Roboter and SCHUNK

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