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March 2014

Float - Helping Patients Learn to Walk, Winner of euRobotics Technology Transfer Award 2014

Brussels, 20 March 2014 – THE eleventh euRobotics Technology Transfer Award was presented during the European Robotics Forum 2014 in Rovereto, Italy.  This year, the winner was “Float” (Free Levitation for Overground Active Training), an overhead body-weight support system based on a cable-driven robotic setup which primarily helps patients learn to walk.  

The roboticists who gathered in Rovereto, Italy, for the Forum on March 12th -14th, 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 by Martin Hägele, the coordinator of the award and the head of the Robot and Assistive Systems division of the Fraunhofer IPA.  Martin Hägele thanked all finalists plus EUnited Robotics, the European Robotics association, for sponsoring the award totalling € 6000 in addition to certificates.  Henrik A. Schunk, managing partner of SCHUNK and chairman of EUnited Robotics, commented: "Innovation is at the heart of maintaining or expanding Europe's global economic lead and technology transfer is the key to successful innovations.  That's why EUnited Robotics' members have been sponsoring the award since 2005 and are proud that it has gained such prominence among the European robotics community." 

About the FLOAT System (

Float primarily helps patients with neurological impairments, particularly gait and balance disorders, learn to walk again. It is a highly transparent, overhead body-weight support system that facilitates motion in all directions during overground walking. The multi-directional support is provided by a cable-driven robot providing a safe environment in which patients can confidently train their walking skills with unrestricted, natural, three dimensional motion.

The training environment enables patients to walk in a large area in which they can also step sideways, walk in curves, or practice climbing stairs, all while the apparatus follows their movements transparently and provides multidirectional overhead support. Patients who were scored as dependent walkers, within the Float system were able to walk without aids, even with low support forces. They showed more pronounced hip extension and more upright posture compared to non-supported, overground walking. This new system allows extensive locomotor gait training with appropriate afferent feedback in a safe environment. 

Float is the result of a joint collaboration between Lutz Medical Engineering, ETH Zurich, and Balgrist Rehabilitation Clinic. It is also CE-certified and already on the market.  Dr. Heike Vallery, the newly appointed Assistant Professor at TU Delft who presented the winning application said: “Float is currently the only commercially available 3D body weight support system, and it meets a high market demand.” 

The other four finalists of the euRobotics Technology Transfer Award 2014 were: 

-        Efficient Implementation of Iterative Inverse Kinematics in Real Time Control Architecture, by Politecnico di Torino and Comau Robotics - (winner of the second prize).

-        Bayesian Perception and Decision: From Theory to Industrial Applications, by INRIA, CNRS and ProbaYes.

-        TeleFlex: the Future of Robotics Flexible Endoscopy, by Demcon, Meander Medical Center, University of Twente.

-        Volumental- Research Driven Scanning for Everyone, by Volumental and KTH.


The euRobotics Technology Transfer Award is presented each year in recognition of outstanding innovations in the field of robotics and automation, in order to promote excellence in applied research, and technology transfer between research and industry. 

The award is supported by EUnited Robotics, the European Robotics Association, and is financially sponsored by the following industrial members: ABB, KUKA Roboter, COMAU, GÜDEL, and SCHUNK.


Jury members: 

-        Anne Wendel, EUnited Robotics, Brussels

-        Dr. Nicola Tomatis, Bluebotics, Switzerland

-        Martin Hägele, Fraunhofer IPA, Germany

-        Dr. Rainer Bischoff, KUKA, Germany

-        Prof. Herman Bruyninckx, KU Leuven

-        Dr. Gisbert  Lawitzky, Siemens AG, Germany




Fariba Khatami

EUnited Robotics

Tel: +32 2706 82 22


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EUnited Robotics logo
Source:  "The Float"
Source: "The Float"
Source: "The Float"
Source: "The Float"
Source: "The Float"


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