Healthcare Robotics Engineering Forum full conference agenda

The Healthcare Robotics Engineering Forum (HREF), produced by The Robot Report’s parent company WTWH Media, provides engineers, engineering management and business professionals with informed guidance, peer networking opportunities and hands-on access to the latest robotics-enabling technologies. The Forum recently announced its full conference agenda for the May 10-11, 2023 event at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center. 

These conference sessions are designed to provide technical professionals the information they need to successfully develop and manufacture healthcare robotics systems. The expo floor will provide attendees with direct access to the latest design and development solutions for producing healthcare robotics technologies and products, with over 150 exhibits and demonstrations on the expo floor. 

Register for full conference passes by March 9 to save $300. Expo-only passes are just $75. Academic discounts are available and academic full conference rates are just $295.

HREF will be co-located with the Robotics Summit & Expo, the world’s premier commercial robotics development event. This multifaceted educational forum is dedicated to addressing the issues involved with the design, development, manufacture and delivery of commercial robots. Also co-located with these events is DeviceTalks Boston, the premier industry event for medical technology professionals. 

The complete agenda for HREF is below. You can also register here.

We gathered in Boston this past May for two full days of expos, keynote sessions, summits & much more! Here’s a short recap of some of the demos that attendees got to see.

Join us at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center May 10th-11th, 2023:

— Healthcare Robotics Engineering Forum (@HCRoboticsForum) February 1, 2023

Wednesday, May 10, 2023

Opening Keynote: Idea to Reality: Commercializing Robotics Technologies
Howie Choset, Professor of Robotics, Carnegie Mellon University
8:45 AM -9:30 AM

Turning a technology developed inside a lab into a successful robotics company is no easy task. Howie Choset has done this several times with companies such as Medrobotics (surgical robots), Hebi Robotics (modular robots) and Bito Robotics (robot software). Choset will share insights about the robotics startups he founded and best practices for taking technological innovation from an idea to reality.

Breakout Session: How customizable cobot design enables the success of your surgical robotics company
Speakers: Gene Matthews, Senior Product Manager, Kollmorgen; Dr. Jindong Tan, President and Founder, Azure Medical Innovation
11:45 AM – 12:30 PM

Collaborative robots and AI are becoming increasingly important for surgeons to perform repetitive and precise control tasks. But surgical applications have unique performance and certification requirements that are not available in the current cobot market. This presentation aims to help eliminate barriers to choosing customized surgical robots, as well as help surgical robotics companies build out their specifications so that they can focus on clinical applications. This talk will also address critical engineering considerations when specifying surgical application needs on collaborative features, AI integration in the surgical flow, and certification requirements:

What are the unique requirements for cobots in surgical applications?
How do key components such as frameless motors determine performance?
How do cobots and AI-enabled vision impact surgical flow?
How customized design can impact performance, development cycle, and certification

Breakout Session: Designing Surgeon-Level Haptic Sensing for Surgical Robotics 
Speakers: Robert Brooks, CEO, ForceN
11:45 AM – 12:30 PM

Force and torque sensing play key roles in enabling surgical robotics, including at the tip of the instrument, trocar location/tissue contact, surgeon collaboration and the surgeon interface. During this session, attendees will learn about 13 core specifications for haptic sensors and the current state-of-the-art of what’s possible. This talk will detail best practices for implementing haptic sensors into surgical robots, including:

Thermal compensation and considerations under surgical drapes
Grounding & shielding inside ultra-compact robotic joints
Engineered cable assemblies for high-flex, multidimensional, tight-bend application

Breakout Session: Developing a New Generation of Robots to Transform Care in the Home
Speakers: Mike Dooley, CEO, Labrador Systems
2:00 PM – 2:45 PM

Across the globe, we are living older for longer than ever before. This is creating huge demands on caregivers, healthcare systems and societies overall, where many regions are already experiencing a labor shortage crisis. Robotics can play a significant role in helping people live more independently for longer.

To achieve this, robotics has to transform in at least two major ways. First, we need to develop robots that can scale to be affordable for personal, 1-to-1 use, which is a dramatic change from most commercial robots today. Second, making functional robots operate autonomously in homes requires solving for much greater complexity, with far more diverse and challenging settings and use case scenarios.

In this presentation, Labrador Systems will walk through the design and development of Retriever, a personal robot built from the ground up to operate in the home, lighten the load of daily activities, extend the impact of caregivers, and ultimately help us live more independently as we age.

Breakout Session: Keys to Using ROS 2 and Other Frameworks for Medical Robots
Speakers: Tom Amlicke, Software Systems Engineer, MedAcuity
2:00 PM – 2:45 PM

What is the best architectural approach to use when building medical robots? Is it ROS, ROS 2 or other open-source or commercial frameworks? The answer is, “it depends.” In this presentation, we will explore engineering questions concerning the level of concern, risk, design controls, and evidence on a couple of different applications of these frameworks. Looking at three hypothetical robotic systems, we will explore these approaches:

An application based on the da Vinci Research Kit through regulatory clearance
ROS as test tools to verify the software requirements for a visual guidance system
Commercial off-the-shelve robot arm used for a medical application

Attending this session to learn how to create trade-offs with these different architectural approaches and how to validate the intended uses of these architectural approaches to ensure a successful submission package for your FDA, EMA, or other regulatory approval.

Breakout Session: Human Factor Design Considerations for Healthcare Robots
Speakers: Laura Birmingham, Associate Research Director, Emergo by UL; Alix Dorfman, Managing Human Factors Specialist, Emergo by UL
3:00 PM – 3:45 PM

Although human factors engineering touches many facets of overall system design, at its core, the practice facilitates the interaction between humans and technology; it aligns a system’s design with individuals’ cognitive and physical capabilities and limitations to produce a safe and satisfying user experience. Despite the level of autonomy healthcare robotics technologies might offer, there is always a human element that requires consideration.

During this talk, the presenters will discuss human factors implications and considerations related to the design of robotic healthcare technology used in clinical and non-clinical environments. The talk will describe how robotics disrupts the four key aspects of design analyzed when supporting product development: the system’s touchpoints, intended users, intended use environment(s), and its intended users’ tasks with the system. We will illuminate how such aspects can and should influence design decisions, as well as best practices when conducting research within the regulated medical device industry.

Breakout Session: Position feedback for healthcare robotics
Speakers: Astrid Stock, Product Manager, SIKO
3:00 PM – 3:45 PM

Healthcare robots are quite different from their industrial counterparts. They do not work in fenced-off areas, but rather side by side with their operators. With this in mind, safety, accuracy, and size requirements have become more critical in today’s applications. Reliable control of the robot’s position, alignment and movement is essential. Rotary and linear encoders enable the position feedback of the motor and send vital information to the control.

This talk will illustrate different measurement principles (magnetic, glass, inductive) and explain the advantages of magnetic measurement. It will differentiate between absolute and incremental systems and will discuss the different interfaces from basic incremental TTL to absolute interfaces like CANopen or BiSS-C. Attendees will also learn about trends and requirements for compact designs and highly integrated solutions.

Breakout Session: Motion Control Trends for Healthcare Robots
Speakers: Prabhakar Gowrisankaran, VP of Engineering and Strategy, Performance Motion Devices
4:15 PM – 5:00 PM

In this presentation, we will provide an update on recent developments in motion control technologies, applications, and products that are especially important for designers of medical analytical instruments and operating room equipment.

The emphasis will be on mobile & surgical robotics, patient therapy equipment, and advances in actuators and position sensors that are driving the next generation of motion control applications that deliver more accuracy, lower treatment costs, and improved medical outcomes.

Prabh Gowrisankaran, VP of Engineering and Strategy at Performance Motion Devices, Inc. (PMD), will share his extensive experience in electronic motion control and will lead this discussion designed to be interesting for both engineers and medical practitioners alike.

Thursday, May 11, 2023

Keynote: The Future of Surgical Robotics
Martin Buehler, Global Head of Robotics R&D, Johnson & Johnson MedTech
10:00 AM – 10:45 AM

Johnson & Johnson, one of the world’s leading healthcare companies, gives an inside look at the end-to-end development of its Monarch and Ottava robotics platforms, as well as strategy and innovation cadence across surgical robotics for MedTech.

Breakout Session: Launching Mobile Manipulation Robots in Hospitals
Speakers: Siddhartha Banerjee, Lead Robotics Engineer, Diligent Robotics
11:30 AM – 12:15 PM

Over the years, robots have made huge strides in the mobile transport space as well as warehouse automation. However, mobile manipulation robots operating around people in semi-structured environments are still few and far between. Diligent Robotics is pushing the boundaries of socially-aware mobile manipulation by deploying robots into hospitals. This talk will cover the challenges of a startup putting Moxi, a socially-aware mobile manipulation platform, into a semi-structured environment with people (i.e. hospitals). It will include lessons learned and key takeaways as well as insights into healthcare automation given the rise of COVID-19 and the impact of labor shortages.
Breakout Session: The Rise of Cobots in Healthcare
Speakers: Brad Porter, Founder and CEO, Collaborative Robotics
11:30 AM – 12:15 PM
Robotics is all about leading change. To realize the true potential of robotics requires a bold vision driven top-down that aligns R&D teams, operations, finance, and global IT, while also requiring a deep focus on the details of successful individual deployments. In this talk, Brad Porter will share his perspective on how soon collaborative robots, with more human-like capability and a greater ability to collaborate with humans, are coming and the new challenges and opportunities they will present in healthcare.
Breakout Session: From Product Idea to Robotic Healthcare Solution – An Overview
Speakers: Tobias Luksch, Manager of R&D and Robotics, ITK Engineering
2:00 PM – 2:45 PM

It is a long road with numerous hurdles to take a medical robot from an initial idea to a certified product. To achieve this, some important questions must be answered, such as:

What is the intended use?
What is the legal framework?
What are the main risks?
Which methods can be used to evaluate concepts, develop prototypes and to verify the final product?

This session will give an overview of the essential steps required to turn a product idea into a market-ready healthcare robot. Attendees will be provided with practical advice on how to implement these steps, as well as a European perspective on the regulatory aspects of the product life cycle.

Session: Magnetic Robots for Diagnosis and Surgery
Speakers: Giovanni Pittiglio, Research Fellow, Boston Children’s Hospital – Harvard Medical School
2:00 PM – 2:45 PM

Robotics has the potential to democratize healthcare by complementing a surgeon’s skills and guaranteeing consistent quality of care. With the aim of reducing pain, discomfort and limiting disruptive interaction with the anatomy, soft magnetic robots are a novel, emerging solution. This technology can guarantee remote actuation, which equates to smaller size and softer devices. This talk will introduce the potential for magnetic soft robots in overcoming the main limitations of alternative approaches, such as minimally-invasive surgery which is difficult to scale due to the need for highly skilled personnel. The session will discuss a range of applications magnetic robots can cover in healthcare, with a focus on diagnosis and surgery. The main challenges and future research goals are introduced and reviewed.

Breakout Session: Using Emulation to Accelerate the Development of Wearable Machines
Speakers: Josh Caputo, Founder, President & CEO, Humotech
3:00 PM – 3:45 PM

Emulation is a concept that will be familiar to anyone engaged in the development of computing systems (or fans of retro gaming), but did you know research & development groups around the world are leveraging the approach to develop more personalized and advanced prosthetics, orthotics, exoskeletons, wearable robotics, and more?

Wearable systems are costly to prototype and difficult to perfect, so it is crucial for this burgeoning industry to reimagine R&D processes to unlock greater efficiency, throughput, and more wildly successful products. Learn more about the opportunities, challenges, and innovative approaches being explored toward developing technology that augments human biomechanics and could one day be accessible to anyone looking to boost their physical performance.

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