Robots that care: Konica Minolta, Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia are going to start on field experimentation in the hospital Casa Sollievo della Sofferenza

| 22 januari 2019

Thanks to a collaboration with the scientific research centre IIT - Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia, in October 2018 Konica Minolta has started a study with robots in the “Casa Sollievo della Sofferenza” hospital in San Giovanni Rotondo, Foggia. Konica Minolta is one of the leading companies to drive forward research activities in robots that offer assistance in the healthcare domain.

Konica Minolta, Inc. (Konica Minolta) continues its investment in research and development within the field of Distributed Robotics and Artificial Intelligence (AI) within the care sector. After the opening of most recent research centre in Rome, the company’s commitment moves forward with an important partnership with IIT - Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia and the hospital Casa Sollievo della Sofferenza in San Giovanni Rotondo, Foggia, Italy. The goal is to study the introduction of assistive robotics in the healthcare domain, employing robots that can assist patients, support the work of nurses and doctors and carry out basic monitoring activities.

The global medical robotics market is continually increasing. According to a MARKETSANDMARKETS report, it is forecasted to reach USD 16.7 billion by the year 2023, from an estimated USD 6.5 billion in 2018. The scope that can be covered by medical robots is vast and it includes surgical robots, rehabilitation robots, non-invasive radiosurgery robots and pharmacy dispensing robots. Konica Minolta is one of a few companies within Europe that are tackling the challenge of using robots for patient assistance.

The ‘Casa Sollievo della Sofferenza’ hospital, with its 900 beds, 206 residential elderly care beds, 2,900 employees, 60,000 yearly admissions and 9,500 surgeries per year, is one of the most renowned in Italy and in partnership with Konica Minolta and IIT are initiating activities into assistive robotics. As part of a collaboration between the two research institutions, IIT has provided its ‘R1’ humanoid robot, developed to be able to assist people in different scenarios; and Konica Minolta Laboratory Europe brought its expertise in AI and Distributed Robotics.

R1 has an innovative structure, 50% of its body is composed of plastic materials; the customised Artificial Intelligence embedded within the robot is inspired by both human learning and human interaction capabilities. R1 is today able to recognise people and objects and as part of the collaboration with Konica Minolta it will have a more sophisticated interaction with doctors and patients by better understanding their activities and responding to their requests accordingly.

In close collaboration with clinical users, in its four R&D laboratories throughout Europe, Konica Minolta is exploring how digital technologies shape the future of healthcare. Beyond assistive robotics, Konica Minolta conducts research into applications of its semantic technologies to medical documents. In the field of precision medicine, the dedicated lab in Munich develops advanced image and data analytics solutions.

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