Healthy living – with robot support

Every year in November, the world of medicine meets at the MEDICA trade fair to discuss the healthcare sector of tomorrow. KUKA is also showing its latest robotics applications at Medica – and celebrating a premiere.

KUKA robots meet the high demands of the medical industry and are used as part of medical products for a wide range of medical technology applications, from minimal invasive surgery to radiation therapy. This year, the KUKA Innovation Award will be presented for the first time at the medical technology trade fair. For the first time, KUKA chose a health topic for its innovation competition. Applicants from all over the world submitted their ideas under the motto “Healthy Living”. KUKA will be presenting the best five concepts at Medica. We took a closer look at robotics and medicine:

For the first time, the Innovation Award will take place under the motto “Healthy Living”. Why is robotics and automation an issue in healthcare?      

People in the industrial nations are getting older and older, there is a shortage of skilled workers and the nursing staff is overworked: All areas of the healthcare industry have to face these challenges. New concepts are needed to ensure the comprehensive care of an increasingly older society in the future. This includes more efficient processes, because the demands on quality and documentation are increasing. In addition, staff must be relieved so that nurses, caregivers and doctors have more time for patients again. One solution is automation to increase efficiency and relieve staff.

Will robots replace the doctor or nurse?

That’s not foreseeable, it’s about human assistance. Robots can support the doctor or therapist for a better, patient-tailored treatment. But there are also challenges: Although robots are becoming more flexible and more and more adapted to medicine, this area is also very complex. Every human being is different. Here, processes cannot be standardized as much as in industry.

The winner of the Innovation Award 2019 will be announced at the Medica medical trade fair. And the application for the Innovation Award 2020 is already underway – here, the focus will once again be on a medical topic. Who can apply?

The competition is open to the entire robotics research community (including companies). This includes researchers and developers as well as research teams. Interested? All details are summarized here – read through, apply. 

Which concepts have particularly good chances?

An important criterion is the innovation potential: How likely is it that the technologies will actually be applied? “Our selection criteria are expertise, clinical feasibility and the potential of the technology. With the latter criterion, however, we also assess whether the technology can be used beyond the medical application field examined here,” says Rainer Bischoff, head of KUKA Group Research, in an interview with the editorial team of

“Healthy living thanks to robotics”: Read the complete interview with Dr. Rainer Bischoff, Vice President Corporate Research, initiator and jury member of the KUKA Innovation Award, and Axel Weber, Vice President Medical Robotics, KUKA in MEDICA Magazine.


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