Winners 2014

Among participating companies from various European countries, as well as from the US and Asia, the expert jury selected three finalists in each of the two competition categories. The winners have been announced at an awards ceremony on Wednesday, 4 June 2014 at 16:15 at the AUTOMATICA Forum (Messe München), Communication Area, Hall B5.

Finalists ESA BIC Start-up Award

Argo Medical Technologies GmbH: ReWalk Robotic Exoskeleton

Argo Medical Technologies GmbH
Itai Levinson,
John Frijters,

ReWalk Robotic Exoskeleton - More Than Walking

The ReWalk Robotic Exoskeleton is the most widely used, most studied, and first product of its kind to be made available for personal ownership. It consists of a light wearable suit that supports its own weight and integrates motors, rechargeable batteries, sensors, and a control system designed to be worn over the user's clothing. Utilising proprietary algorithms, upper-body motions are constantly analysed by the control system. They are then used to trigger and maintain gait patterns and other modes of operation (such as stair-climbing or standing up), leaving the user's hands free for self-support and other functions. ReWalk thus provides the social and physiological benefits of ambulation at a functional walking speed.
Clinically validated for safety and ease of use, ReWalk has the potential to reduce pain and spasticity, improve bowel and urinary tract functions, enhance body/bone composition and the metabolism, increase physical fitness, reduce hospitalisation and medication, and offer other health benefits. Based on this potential, we believe that ReWalk will deliver economic value and long-term savings to healthcare providers and third-party payers.
In an effort to accelerate the development of its service robotics business in the field of robotic human assistance, the YASKAWA Electric Corporation - the world-leading manufacturer of industrial robots and servo and inverter drives - entered a strategic alliance with ARGO Medical Technologies in September 2013. The goal of this strategic alliance is to work together towards improving current products and collaborating on the development on future innovations.

ArtiMinds Robotics GmbH: ArtiMinds Robotics Intuitive Robot Programming

ArtiMinds Robotics GmbH
Dr-Ing Sven R. Schmidt-Rohr, Dr-Ing Rainer Jäkel, Gerhard Dirschl, Simon Fischer
Software Suite

The software enables fast, intuitive programming of complex robot manipulator motions. Relevant applications are those that need motions with either
  1. a complex, fixed trajectory, not directly inferable from CAD,
  2. force-feedback controllers to adapt the trajectory during execution,
  3. multiple reusable robust basic skill templates,
  4. flexible online motion planning,
  5. automatic cycle time optimization.
The software combines methodologies from the state-of-the-art of industrial and autonomous robotics with new algorithms to address characteristics a) - f). Thereby the robot is guided in a simplified playback-mode directly by the human at the robot's wrist. A small number of pivotal key points of the task are recorded. Key points can be modified quickly and individually either by repeat recording or in a CAD environment. Guided by an intuitive software wizard, a complex task model is generated automatically. Structure and parameters of the model are derived from simple motion templates and the key points. Finally, robot controller specific task program code is generated automatically from the internal model. Just that code runs on the robot controller during execution.

runfun GmbH (i.G.): RUFUS - A Robotic Running Coach That Supports Healthy, Professional Training

runfun GmbH (i.G.)
Erwin Prassler, Sebastian Blumenthal, Walter Nowak, Tiana Nicolaus, Sabine Oster, Alex Frantzis-Gounaris,Matthias Füller,
RUFUS is an electrically powered, automatically guided, three-wheeled vehicle that drives ahead of runners like a pacesetter and sets the optimal speed at which they should train. RUFUS measures runners' heart rates by means of a monitor worn on the body. A controller then compares this information with a set value and accelerates or decelerates the vehicle in order to minimise the difference, thus enabling runners to achieve an optimal heart rate and maximise the benefits of their training.

The set value can either be entered manually through a graphical user interface or be provided by a professional training programme. Such programmes can be downloaded from a portal for installation and execution on RUFUS's on-board PC, much like an app.

The basic version of RUFUS has rigid axes, which means that it drives straight ahead until someone or something changes its course. The runner only has to steer the running coach around a curve like a cart when he or she wants to change its direction of travel. The basic unit can be upgraded with a steerable axis and an electronic steering device, which enable the runner to change RUFUS's direction by pressing a button.

Finalists Service Robotics Master

Empire Robotics, Inc.: VERSABALL® Gripper

Empire Robotics, Inc.
Bill Culley - President,
John Amend - CTO
VERSABALL® Grippers by Empire Robotics are extremely flexible robotic end-effectors that leverage the jamming phase transition of granular materials. They enable secure grasping and manipulation of widely varying objects with a single inexpensive tool. This term "jamming" refers to the ability of granular materials to undergo a reversible fluid-like to solid-like phase transition without a change in temperature. VERSABALL® Grippers exploit this phase transition by encasing a mass of granular material in a flexible membrane. When the grains are loosely combined, they yield under the sheer stress like a fluid. If they are packed together, they jam in position and resist applied stress like a solid. By controlling the air pressure within the membrane, a gripper can passively conform to objects of varying shape and then vacuum-harden to achieve a rigid grip.

Oppent SpA: EVO™ Automated Guided Vehicle

Oppent SpA
This is a transport system that uses automated self-guided vehicles (AGV). Capable of moving without the aid of an operator, EVO™ follows pre-programmed paths within the facility maps stored in its memory. These vehicles are used for the transport of hospital trolleys (load capacity up to 500 kg) assigned for several services: catering, laundry, waste, sterilisation, pharmaceutical and general supplies. Navigation is powered by Bluebotics' ANT® System, which uses laser scanning and does not require the embedding of equipment on the floor, walls or ceiling, thus ensuring maximum freedom in programming routes.

The vehicles are bi-directional and have a programmable speed of 0.10 m/s to 2.0 m/s. A specific security system is able to identify any obstacles along the path and adjust the movement of the vehicle. EVO™ thereby ensures scheduled delivery services through complete automation, even in the presence of elevators and fire doors.

gomtec GmbH: Roberta®

gomtec GmbH
Dipl-Ing Bernd Gombert,
Dr Richard Roberts,
Dipl-Ing Martin Schautt
Roberta® is a light, intelligent, adaptable, agile, and inexpensive six-axis industrial robot. Its modular design allows customers to configure it to their requirements while still remaining affordable. The joint units allow unlimited (multi-turn) rotation for maximum flexibility.

Major emphasis has been placed on ease of programming. The user can move the robot to any desired pose in the workspace using the integrated RoboCommander® 6-DOF input device, and record it using the input ring. A set of such points can then be played back by the robot. Alternatively, a trajectory can be recorded directly using a similar technique.

A wide range of components can easily be integrated into the functional system. A gripper is provided with integrated force-sensing, a safety brake, and an optional stereo camera. This camera offers dynamic control of illumination intensity from its four integrated light sources, use of infrared wavelengths for reduced sensitivity to ambient lighting, and on-board image processing and object recognition. A redundant force-torque sensor is also available. This is all backed up by a uniquely coherent, future-proof, and expandable safety architecture.