The “Modeling and Rehabilitation Robotics” research team developed a safe and minimalistic control and learning (AI) algorithm, which automatically finds and provides the optimal balance between rigid support and “soft” guidance for any given patient during therapy. This assist-as-needed (AAN) control strategy is being commercialized in collaboration with the high-tech startup Reactive Robotics and Schön Klinik Bad Aibling, as part of a robotic assistive device called VEMO, used for the early rehabilitation of ICU patients.
The TUM MSRM Modeling and Rehabilitation Robotics team pursued the technology transfer of an innovative control and learning algorithm together with the high-tech startup Reactive Robotics and the Schön Klinik Bad Aibling (SKBA). Reactive Robotics managed the overall product development and CE certification and Schön Klinik Bad Aibling (SKBA) facilitated patient testing and expert feedback.
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The result of this collaboration is a CE-certified, safe, efficient, easy-to-use robotic assistive device for the early rehabilitation of ICU patients. The robot is named VEMO. To our best knowledge, VEMO is the first commercialized system that combines maximizing active participation with self-initiation of movement in a safe, supportive, and adaptive therapy environment, for the treatment of patients in intensive care.
The “Modeling and Rehabilitation Robotics” team developed a safe and minimalistic control and learning (AI) algorithm, which automatically finds and provides the optimal balance between rigid support and “soft” guidance for any given patient during therapy. They developed this Assist-as-needed AAN control strategy as part of a German Ministry of Education and Research-funded project called MobIPaR.
Assist-as-needed (AAN) functionality is fundamental for successful robotic system-based rehabilitation of patients with mobility impairments. The foundation of AAN is a combination of “soft” control, in which the assistance level can be adapted to allow a certain freedom of movement and learning-based adaptation of the assistance level.
The AAN extension of VEMO was CE-certified in October 2020 and is currently in use with critical care patients at the SKBA. So far eight neurologically impaired patients have been successfully treated, including Covid survivors. The commercial launch of AAN as a therapy functionality of VEMO is planned for summer 2021. As AAN is a pure software upgrade, all users of VEMO can integrate AAN into their training paradigm.
The intellectual property created jointly during this project is shared by TUM MSRM and Reactive Robotics. The handling of the intellectual property rights between TUM and Reactive Robotics was facilitated by the Bayerische Patentallianz GmbH, which links 33 Bavarian research institutes with industrial partners to make inventions commercially exploitable. The flexible licensing models of the Bayerische Patentallianz made it possible to find a mutually beneficial agreement that, on the one hand, takes into account the special economic situation of a startup like Reactive Robotics and, on the other hand, ensures commercial exploitation of the invention and royalties for the TUM.
The European Robotics Forum 2021 (ERF 2021) is one of the most influential and highly competitive events of the robotics community in Europe. The RF2021 attracts researchers, engineers, managers, entrepreneurs, business people, and public funding officers from all over the region. The European Robotics Forum is organized by euRobotics under SPARC, the Public-Private partnership for Robotics in Europe. ERF2021 was held as a virtual event on 13-15 April.
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