hawHelge A Wurdemann, Dipl.-Ing., PhD
Associate Professor of Robotics
Co-General Chair of ICRA 2023
UCL Department of Mechanical Engineering
email: h.wurdemann@ucl.ac.uk


I am a roboticist and Associate Professor of Robotics. The research interests of my Soft Haptics and Robotics Lab include the design and application of bio-inspired, soft and stiffness-controllable medical and haptic devices and robotic art. Meet the Team!

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Short bio: Having received my PhD in Robotics from King’s College London in 2012, I became research associate and project manager of the STIFF-FLOP project developing the first soft robot tested in human cadavers. In 2016, I joined University College London amd am one of the core roboticists at UCL  Robotics developing innovative (soft) robotic hardware with applications in healthcare engineering, manufacturing and highly-automated vehicles. I lead my Soft Haptics & Robotics Lab (http://softhaptics.website) – a multi-disciplinary team of currently 14 researchers. Members of the team – alumni have become well established within their field of research at world-leading universities, e.g., UCL, Imperial College London and The University of Tokyo.

Research summary: My research interest focuses on the hardware design and application of soft material robotic systems that have the ability to change their shape and stiffness on demand bridging the gap between traditional rigid and entirely soft robots. I create and embed innovative stiffness-controllable mechanisms as well as combine advanced Artificial Intelligence with control strategies in robotic prototypes emerging from my lab. This field of robotics is a truly multidisciplinary engineering subject as it requires knowledge in, e.g., material science, design and manufacturing, electrical and electronic engineering as well as computer science. My research is application-driven and informed by close collaboration with experts from, e.g., transport engineering, medicine and industrial sectors: In the area of minimally invasive interventions, I explore novel flexible tools for colo-rectal and abdominal surgery, haptic feedback actuators to support margin control in robotic surgery and data from valvuloplasty balloons to overcome current shortcomings in transcatheter aortic valve implantation. For industrial application, I develop a new generation of collaborative robots that have variable stiffness links and are inherently safe to work closely together with the human. In the field of autonomous vehicles, I build a soft, stiffness-controllable and shape-changing driving seat to guide the driver in a safe way when changing between different levels of autonomy. 

Research highlights: I have (co-) authored over 100 papers published in high-impact journals leading the field of robotics and peer-reviewed full-length conference papers presented at premium robotics conferences (see Google scholar). I have been invited to deliver 35 invited (keynote) talks, notably, at the launch of the soft robotics programme by the German Research Foundation, the International Congress of the Society for Medical Innovation and Technology (SMIT), the Digital Catapult, at many highly-ranked university (e.g., ETH, Switzerland, Imperial College London, UK). I have been (co-)organiser of 20 conferences, workshops and symposia (e.g., workshops at ICRA, IROS, and the Hamlyn Symposium on Medical Robotics) in the field of robotics, notably, I will be the Co-General Chair of the 2023 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA) – the IEEE Robotics and Automation Society’s premium robotics conference expecting more than 4,500 roboticists from around the world.