Robert Riener

Professor of sensory-motor systems, ETH Zürich

Speaker Themes

  • Robotics, AI and the impact on society
  • The future of human-machine interaction
  • The impact of robotics and Virtual Reality (VR) on healthcare
  • Founding the Cybathlon – the world’s first “Olympics For Augmented Humans”

Travels from

Zürich, Switzerland


Robert Riener is one of the world’s leading experts on the impact of robotics and Virtual Reality (VR) on healthcare.

He is the founder of the Cybathlon, the world’s only championship where people with disabilities compete with assistive devices and robotic technologies. The event has received extensive media coverage and has been dubbed “The Olympics For Augmented Humans”. 

Robert is Professor for Sensory-Motor Systems at the Department of Health Sciences and Technology, ETH Zurich, and the Paraplegic Center of University Hospital Balgrist, Zurich.

His research interests include sports science, biomechanics, virtual reality, human-machine interaction, rehabilitation and robotics.

He has authored and co-authored more than 400 peer-reviewed journal and conference articles and has 24 patents. He is a member of several scientific societies (e.g. IEEE/EMBS, DGBMT/VDE, IFESS) and an associate editor of several scientific journals. For his development of the arm therapy robot ARMin, he was awarded with several prizes including the humanTech Innovation Prize, the Swiss Technology Award and the euRobotics Technology Transfer Awards 2012.

Robert has several license contracts with SMEs, co-founded a spin-off company and consults for several companies and foundations.

For the initiation of the Cybathlon, he and his team were awarded the European Excellence Award 2017, the Yahoo Sports Technology Award 2018 and the ReEducation Education Award 2019. In 2018 Riener received an honorary doctoral degree from the University of Basel.


Robert’s dynamic and inspirational presentations take the audience on a journey through the latest innovations in robotics, biomechanics and VR, showing how they’ll impact business and society, and also illuminating potential investment opportunities.

In addition, Robert’s pioneering work with the Cybathlon not only shows how such innovations can radically improve people’s lives; it is also an inspirational effort to break down the barriers that exist between people with disabilties and society at large.


The first Cybathlon pushed the limits of bionic technology – engadget (2016)

How cybathletes are racing past the peak of human performance – WiredUK (2016)

Olympian achievements beckon for robotic limbs – Financial Times (2016)

Cybathlon wins European Excellence Award in PR and Communications – (2017)

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