Advanced Robotics research concentrates on an innovative, multidisciplinary approach to humanoid design and control, and the development of novel robotic components and technologies. This encompasses activities from both the hard (mechanical/ electrical design and fabrication, sensor systems, actuation development etc.) and soft (control, computer software, human factors etc) systems areas of robotics.
The Biomedical Robotics Laboratory focuses on research and development of human-centered robotic technologies. We are a highly multidisciplinary group working towards the creation of novel technologies that can directly impact the health and well-being of people.
The overall research theme involves the creation of robotic systems to augment human capabilities through enhanced interfaces. This includes research in areas such as robot-assisted surgery, micromanipulation, human-robot interfaces, assistive systems for the disabled, medical imaging and computer vision, teleoperation, cognitive controllers, and automation. Typical goals are to improve the consistency, efficiency, usability and safety of difficult and/or delicate operations traditionally performed manually.
The Biomedical Robotics Laboratory is part of the Advanced Robotics Department and counts with a larger range of state-of-the-art equipment that support our research and stimulate the curiosity of our researchers. These include surgical laser systems, microscopes, motorized micromanipulators, haptic devices, EEG systems, robotic arms, endoscopes, and many other scientific instruments. We also have a dedicated room for Class-IV laser experiments, where novel laser microsurgery prototypes are developed and safely tested.
We deeply believe in collaborations to speed-up the progress of human-centered technologies and achieve meaningful results. Therefore, we are always open to new and challenging opportunities to collaborate with other groups and institutions. The multidisciplinarity of our research is a result of this vision. We currently have collaborations in the medical robotics area with the San Martino Hospital (ENT Department, UNIGE), NearLab (Politecnico di Milano), AIMS Academy (Niguarda Hospital), ALTAIR Laboratory (University of Verona), and El.En S.r.l. (Firenze). In addition, we are developing novel assistive systems for ALS patients with the Fondazione Roma.
Our group works on the development of wearable assistive exoskeletons. The objective of these devices is to assist people during physical activities. Target users span from industrial workers, aiming to reduce musculoskeletal loads and the associated risk of injuries, to people with movement impairments due to conditions such as stroke or spinal injury, aiming to enable to to carry out activities of daily living.
From a research perspective, our group focuses on advances that will enable exoskeletons to succeed in real-life applications. This includes high-performance actuation systems, with the target of keeping weight and power consumption to a minimum while producing substantial physical assistance and promoting comfort. Our research comprises also assistive strategies based on the combination of relevant measurements from the environment with biosignals from the user. Our group strives to maximise the deployability of the developed devices in real-life scenarios. To this end, our approach considers the invasiveness and costs associated to the physical interfaces. Additionally, we seek to inform the development of our devices by frequently evaluating them in user studies.
Our team has developed a wearable robotic back support device, within the context of the Robo-Mate EU Project. This system is aimed to the assistance of the operators in industry during manual handling tasks and in awkward positions. Its goal is to offload the user’s low back, thereby reducing the associated pain and risk of injury.
We are currently developing a soft biomimetic exoskeleton to assist people with mobility impairments, within the context of the XoSoft EU Project.
This project will deliver a modular exoskeleton for the lower limb made of soft materials as an assistive device for persons with low to moderate mobility restrictions. The development of exoskeletons using soft materials is an innovative field with many relevant potential applications. Approaches allowing more compact, low weight and comfortable solutions are strongly needed. A small number of important developments in this respect have been made, which will enable the development of soft exoskeletons.
We are currently collaborating with a broad number of research institutions and companies with common interests in the area of wearable assistive robots.
We have a narrow collaboration with:
- research groups at ZHAW (Zürcher Hochschule für Angewandte Wissenschaften) - Departments of mechatronics and physiotheraphy
- UL (University of Limerick) - Department of human factors and ergonomics
- CSIC (Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas) - Center of automotion and robotics
- Fraunhofer - Institute for industrial engineering
- Saxion university of applied science
- RRD (Roessingh Research and Development)
Industrial collaborations are also a core part of our activities. We are currently licensing the Robo-Mate technology to German Bionic Systems, while our narrow collaboration with CRF (Centro Ricerche Fiat) helps to keep our developments in industrial exoskeletons close to the real applications. Our recent collaboration with INAIL (Istituto Nazionale per l'Assicurazione contro gli Infortuni sul Lavoro) will represent a big leap in the state-of-the-art of industrial exoskeletons.