Medical robotics challenge launched as part of UK Robotics Week

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Robotics researchers are being invited to submit breakthrough solutions to aid the global response to current and future pandemics as part of UK Robotics Week 2020.

The UK-RAS Network, organisers of UK Robotics Week, has invited leading robotics research teams from across the world to submit innovative ideas that could aid in the response to the current COVID-19 pandemic and future global pandemics, as part of the Medical Robotics for Contagious Diseases Challenge.

The 2020 UK Robotics Week, supported by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council through the UK-RAS Network, will take place from 22-28 June and has been reconfigured in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and will focus on a series of virtual activities.

These include competitions aimed at schoolchildren – such as a school robot competition, a draw a robot competition, and a once upon a robot competition.

The medical robotics challenge will take place entirely online, with flexibility for remote working. Teams will be competing for a prize fund of £15,000, offered by sponsors Intuitive Surgical, The Wellcome Trust and Imperial College London.

Challenge finalists will have the opportunity to present their ideas to a prestigious and highly experienced international judging panel, which will include:

  • Professor Lord Darzi of Denham, Co-Director of the Institute for Global Health Innovation, Professor of Surgery at Imperial College London
  • Simon Di Maio, Director, Research at Intuitive Surgical
  • Professor Russell H. Taylor, John C. Malone Professor at John Hopkins University, USA
  • Dr Cyrill von Tiesenhausen, Business Development Manager at KUKA Deutschland GmBH, Germany

Professor Robert Richardson, Chair of the EPSRC UK-RAS Network said: "The global community is facing an unprecedented challenge as a result of the COVID-19 crisis.

What we are seeing is that now, more than ever, medical robotics and robotics platforms have a key role to play in the response to COVID-19, and in tackling future pandemics - from robots disinfecting hospitals to delivering vital supplies, supporting testing, infection control and performing surgery.

“The COVID-19 pandemic offers a unique opportunity to galvanize medical robot technologies, and we hope this challenge will offer an opportunity to celebrate current work in development that seek to offer solutions as part of a multi-faceted response to this and future global pandemics."

Applicants are asked to submit a 2-minute preview video by September 30, and entries will be reviewed and accepted by October 14 The final two-minute preview video, presentation and two-page paper will need to be submitted by October 28, and finalist teams will be invited to give an online presentation and take part in a video conference interview with the judging team on November 6.

The Medical Robotics for Contagious Diseases Challenge is now open for entries.