An important turning point came in 2016 with the participation of qbrobotics as partner in the H2020 European project SOFTPRO (Synergy-based Open-source Foundations and Technologies for Prosthetics and RehabilitatiOn). The objective was the develop prosthesis, exoskeletons and devices for upper-limb rehabilitation through innovative robotics based on soft synergies.
In this context, human-machine interaction was not focused only on the physical, but also its emotional and social aspects as part of the ongoing challenge of future robotics research in studying the body, mind and emotion to replicate not only abstract intelligence, but also our abilities to relate, to move and to manipulate.
Moving into the biomedical field with Softhand Pro
From the project Softhand Pro was born: robotics technology with an easy-to-use, single actuator having a functional structure very similar to that of a human hand. The device can be used not only in object manipulation, but also in interaction. Thanks to Softhand Pro, an amputee can once again shake hands or make “simple” gestures, such as clasping or folding one’s hands.
The success of the new product was widespread: today, many important medical centers use Softhand Pro in hand experimentation, including:
– Ability Lab (Chicago, Illinois) – in combination with an artificial wrist on patients who have undergone targeted muscle reinnervation;
– Mayo Clinic (Rochester, Minnesota) – in studies on tactile sensation restoration in patients;
– Arizona State University (Phoenix, Arizona) – in experiments with neural interfaces;
– Hannover Medical School (Hannover, Germany) – available in lighter and more compact versions for use in clinical experiments with patients.
– Hannover Medical School (Hannover, Germania) – disponibile nelle versioni ancora più leggere e compatte per sperimentazioni cliniche su pazienti.
Consolidation of international expertise
The biomedical sector is not the only one in which qbrobotics is operating. Also in 2016, the company was also partner in the H2020 project DAEDALUS (Distributed control and simulAtion platform to support an Ecosystem of DigitAL aUtomation developerS) whose objective was to best exploit virtual intelligence of Cyber Physical Systems (CPS) linked to Industry 4.0 applications.
CPS are interconnected systems that interact with each other and with the physical environment in which they are located through standard Internet protocols. By analyzing data from the production environment, they can react in real time to variations in demand and thus self-configure accordingly. With the adoption of a distributed automation platform, based on the IEC-61499 Standard, it is possible to create a digital ecosystem that overcomes the current limitations of industrial production the control systems.
In this way qbrobotics reinforced its command in research and development at an international level as active partner in research projects and started to forge an identity. From the biomedical sector to industry, the main pathway was to try and adapt soft robotics to the main fields of robotics. The time was ripe for its new product: the qb Softhand Research.