IFR press release

The Tibion Bionic Leg Wins the IERA 2013 Award

Presentation in Karlsruhe

Karlsruhe, 8 May 2013 - The 9th annual Invention and Entrepreneurship Award in Robotics and Automation (IERA) was presented to Robert Horst, AlterG Inc. (former Tibion Corporation) for the Tibion Bionic Leg, at the International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA) in Karlsruhe, Germany.

"The awards committee had a difficult choice to make with three excellent finalists. In the end, we picked the Tibion Bionic Leg for the following reason as noted in the citation for the award: 'A breakthrough product for rehabilitation of stroke patients at an affordable price, and offering a compelling story of an entrepreneurial journey with typical ups-and-downs culminating in a successful business'", commented Raj Madhavan, Vice President of IEEE-RAS Industrial Activities Board and Chairman of the Awards Committee.

"I was very happy to accept this award for the AlterG Bionic Leg because it acknowledges the growing importance of robotics for rehabilitation. It is gratifying to receive such a prestigious award after our team has worked so hard to perfect the Bionic Leg and introduce it into physical therapy. I am looking forward to working with the expanded AlterG team to accelerate the availability of Bionic Leg therapy and develop future innovations in rehabilitation robotics" stated Robert Horst of AlterG.


Left to right: Peter Staecker, President IEEE; Alexander Verl, awards committee; Robert Horst, AlterG, IERA Award winner; Martin Bühler, awards committee; Raj Madhavan, Awards Chair

The Tibion Bionic Leg (TBL) is a wearable, battery-powered, robotic mobility assistance device. It is a robotic trainer that is activated by the patient's intent to move. The TBL is used by physical therapists for patients with impaired mobility and is designed to strengthen stance, improve gait, and enhance active motor learning while protecting its users.

Tibion Incorporated was founded in 2002. Robert Horst started research of the Bionic Leg years after his knee surgery. After developing the hard- and software of the product, Tibion sold the first Bionic Leg in 2009. By today the company has sold more than a hundred units. Tibion is now part of AlterG, Inc., a company who is revolutionizing modern rehabilitation through the use of the cutting edge Anti-Gravity Treadmill® and Bionic Leg. The Bionic Leg is currently available in over 100 hospitals, physical therapy facilities and skilled nursing facilities worldwide. The AlterG Anti-Gravity Treadmill® technology was originally developed for NASA and is the first FDA-cleared medical device that uses patented differential air pressure technology. AlterG products are used by major medical centers, leading physical therapy clinics, top professional and collegiate teams and athletes, and individual sports and fitness programs worldwide.

The awards committee cited the other two finalists as follows:

The Thymio II Educational Robot by Stéphane Magnenat, ETH Zürich and Fanny Riedo, EPFL, Switzerland
"An inspiring product motivating young boys and girls to enter science, technology, engineering and math disciplines."

Intelligent Grit-blasting Robots for The Surface Preparation Industry by Professor Dikai Liu, University of Technology, Australia
"A good example of bringing robotics and automation technologies to tackle dull, dirty, and dangerous tasks, and to improve infrastructure maintenance."

In 2005 the IEEE Robotics and Automation Society (IEEE/RAS) and the International Federation of Robotics (IFR) agreed to jointly sponsor the Invention and Entrepreneurship Award. The purpose of this award is to highlight and honor the achievements of the inventors with value creating ideas and entrepreneurs who propel those ideas into world-class products. At the same time the joint disposition of the award underlines the determination of both organizations to promote stronger collaboration between robotics science and robotics industry. The annual presented award consists of a plaque and a $2,000 honorarium.

Previous winners are:

  • 2005 Joe Jones, (i-Robot, USA), Roomba vacuum cleaner robot
  • 2006 Rainer Bischoff (KUKA Roboter, Germany), collision-avoiding industrial robots
  • 2007 Hugh Durrant-Whyte (Patrick Technologies, Australia), port automation robotic systems
  • 2008 joint-winners
    • Mick Mountz, Pete Wurman and Raffaello D?Andrea (Kiva Systems, USA),  Cooperating mobile robots for logistics
    • Thomas Brandstetter, Dieter Steegmueller and Michael Zuern (Daimler, Germany),  Cooperating stationary industrial robots used for assembly
  • 2009 Yoshiyuki Sankai (Cyberdyne Inc., Japan), Robot Suit HAL
  • 2010 Alexander Verl (Fraunhofer IPA, Germany), Inline Measurement Robots
  • 2011 Bruno Maisonnier (Aldebaran Robotics, France), Humanoid Robot NAO
  • 2012 joint-winners
    • Gino De-Gol (RoboCoaster Ltd., UK), Passenger Carrying Industrial Robotics  
    • Thomas Visti  and Esben Østergaard (Universal Robots Aps, Denmark), UR5 - a flexible and eco-friendly robot arm