In the previous parts of this blog series, I have described some possible applications of robotics to our life to make it more comfortable and safe; furthermore, this part describes an application sector of robotics which promises to become very important in the future developments of the medical robotics market.
Indeed recently a new announcement has stated the birth of a startup company in the robotics sector, Movendo Technology , which was recently founded from the collaboration between two important tech contributors:
- The Dompé pharmaceutical Company, whose mission states: “Our objective is to find innovative solutions that improve human health. Our commitment is to transform our efforts into research with passion, competence and courage” (Source: dompe.com)
- The Italian Institute of Technology, in particular its internal division known as Rehab Technologies – INAIL-IIT lab, has developed the iCub Robot, a humanoid robot that can learn movements from humans and is able to reproduce exactly what it has learned in a safe and smooth mode. (see Figure 1)
The iCub Robot while it is learning from a human teacher to plant some roots in terrain. See the video here. (Source: youtube )
It’s easy to see how important the contribution of electronics technology is to robotics for the realization of the iCub robot:
“The iCub is the humanoid robot developed at IIT as part of the EU project RobotCub and subsequently adopted by more than 20 laboratories worldwide. It has 53 motors that move the head, arms & hands, waist, and legs. It can see and hear, it has the sense of proprioception (body configuration) and movement (using accelerometers and gyroscopes). We are working to improve on this in order to give the iCub the sense of touch and to grade how much force it exerts on the environment.” (Source: icub.org)
One of the more interesting applications of this type of robotics instrument is to help patients that need physical rehabilitation after, for example, a trauma from a concussion, especially for contact sport practitioners: Robotics medical instrumentation can help movements, by the means of smart ICs, such as MEMS, integrated into the robot. (See Figure 2)
The block diagram of a MEMS gyroscope architecture (Source: watson-gyro)
One of the key point of Movendo Technology’s creation is the development of the robotic platform Hunova , to help patients for rehabilitation and functional evaluation purposes. (See Figure 3)
The robotic platform Hunova : “The technological heart of the startup is the robotic platform Hunova, for use in the rehabilitation and functional evaluation of lower limbs and trunk, which will be manufactured and marketed by first half of 2017, as well as the realization of robotic prosthetic hand light, strong and low cost in the pipeline, and an exoskeleton that will help to walk people with paralysis of the lower limbs or to rehabilitate stroke patients” (Source: startupitalia.eu)
Robotics science is thus strongly enhanced by electronics technology in realizing an innovative robot like the iCub Robot, with the interesting potential of helping patients in their rehabilitation path.
The market figure for robotics medical instruments is rated in the order of magnitude of 5 billion US dollars over the next 5 years. Do you think this sector will increase this quickly?