Across Europe, 40 million workers suffer from muscle, joint and nerve pain caused by physically demanding tasks. Moreover, such musculoskeletal disorders are the cause of as many as half of all absences in companies and therefore cost a great deal of money. Innovative robots, cobots and exoskeletons that can relieve that work and make it healthier are therefore a major economic and social challenge. The EU-funded SOPHIA project, in which three VUB research groups are participating, will develop a new generation of cobots and exoskeletons over the next four years. VUB’s Brubotics research centre is the only Belgian partner, with three research groups involved. Prof Vanderborght will develop software to control the robots, Professor Kevin De Pauw (human physiology) will conduct research on how humans react physically and cognitively to robots. Professor An Jacobs (sociologist at imec-SMIT-VUB) will focus on the evaluation of social acceptance and desirability of the innovations, in which humans are central.