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Health technology

Doctors and scientists build robots together

A new collaboration between SDU and OUH aim to break down barriers and make it easier for companies to create contact with the research environment and roll out new technology in the hospital corridors. A joint robot center will be unique in Europe because it is the first time such a large university hospital has been affiliated.

By Jakob Haugaard Christiansen, , 6/9/2021

Odense has already fostered the robot cluster and 140 small and large robot and automation companies, but now the focus must also be increased on health robots.

This will take place in the new robot center Center for Clinical Robotics (CCR), which the Faculty of Engineering at SD U and Odense University Hospital is establishing. OUH will thus be the largest university hospital in Europe, which is part of a robotic center.

The goal is to increase collaboration between doctors and nurses on the one hand and robot scientists and engineers on the other.

Inauguration Thursday

– We are establishing the center because we can see an increasing need for automation solutions in the healthcare sector. When I started in the field 10 years ago, robots and automation in the healthcare sector were a future scenario, but today we researchers are asked when we can be ready with the solutions, says Thiusius Rajeeth Savarimuthu.

He is a professor at the Maersk Mc-Kinney Møller Institute and head of research at the new center, which will be inaugurated on Thursday at the Faculty of Engineering in Odense.

Already today, mobile robots are used in the healthcare sector, e.g. The UVD robot from Blue Ocean Robotics in Odense, which can disinfect for coronavirus. New technology is increasingly also being used for rehabilitation, health drones are to fly blood samples and be part of the logistics, and artificial intelligence is expected to play a major role in diagnosing and using robots in the operating room.

Health robots are facing the same development that industrial robots have experienced over the past 10 years.

Thiusius Rajeeth Savarimuthu, Professor

There may be a few more days before the robot takes over the scalpel from the surgeon, but it is not far in the future, and the potential for new technology is at least as great as the development seen in industrial robots:

– Several analyzes show that health robots are facing the same development as the industrial robots have experienced over the past 10 years. By joining forces, we can ensure that we achieve the acceleration in Denmark where we have a unique opportunity to show the way, says Thiusius Rajeeth Savarimuthu.

Must benefit patients

While he is going to stand with the research baton the role of daily manager at the center will be in the hands of Soren Udby, while Esben Hansen will be the technical manager of the new center.

– We must facilitate collaboration with companies and external partners who want to test and develop new solutions in collaboration with the researchers at SDU and our clinical experts at OUH.

- CCR must screen and sort through the many projects that are proposed so that we only take in those that ultimately benefit the patient. And then we are in charge of the contact, so it is not the chief doctor or the nurse who, as today, has to take care of it, says Søren Udby.

Testing of equipment for the new hospital

Through the collaboration on CCR, OUH will, according to Udby, be the largest university hospital in Europe involved in the establishment of a robot center.

– It is also one of the unique things that we can do the kind in Denmark where there is plenty of opportunities to test and develop directly in a hospital. For example, it is not allowed in Japan, says Søren Udby.

At the same time, the center must be a strategic stepping stone in the development work leading up to New OUH, so that all the technology to be used at the new super hospital will be thoroughly tested and verified first through the new collaboration.

– We have several new solutions along the way that we will work with, and we have submitted the first application for foundation support. And then comes v in to draw experts from the University Hospital, University of Southern Denmark, and companies into individual projects, says the new head of the center.

Footbridge between the parties

Initially, the work in the new center will take place at SDU and OUH, but over time, the partners will meet physically in a common setting when New OUH is ready.

– I hope that in the long run, we can establish a large physical building for the center with quick access between the Faculty of Engineering and New OUH. The distance between the clinical need and the solutions must be overcome with a "footbridge" both physically and mentally, says Thiusius Rajeeth Savarimuthu.

In the opening event Thursday, speakers will present solutions and technologies that SDU and the University Hospital currently collaborate on. It is intended that a new test area will be set up at OUH, and it will be underground.

– We have several kilometers of basement areas, where we want companies and external partners to have access to test and develop their technologies in real-life environments with lots of daily traffic, says Søren Udby.

Editing was completed: 09.06.2021