Field Tests

Field Tests

As part of our commitment to developing robots for use in real world applications, we organise annual practice sessions with professionals from the search and rescue community and take our… Read more

Flying Robots

Flying Robots

Flying robots are useful in search and rescue missions as they can be used to survey large areas of land looking for victims. By using sensors on the robots,… Read more

Elias Mueggler PhD defense

Elias Mueggler (Scaramuzza Lab) successfully defended his thesis on June 15th, 2017 with the final grade of Summa Cum Laude. The title of his thesis was Event based Vision for High Speed Robotics. With his research he received several awards, such as: 1. Misha Mahowald Award for Neuromorphic Engineering, 2017 2. the Qualcomm Innovation Fellowship, …

Drone Journey to the Center of the earth

NCCR Robotics spin-fund Flyability has taken part in an expedition that marks a new milestone in cave exploration. For the first time, a drone has been used – for a scientific purpose… Read more

Zurich Urban Micro Aerial Vehicle Dataset

Scaramuzza Lab released the Zurich Urban Micro Aerial Vehicle Dataset. The first public, large-scale dataset recorded with a drone in an urban environment… Read more

Release of The Zurich Urban Micro Aerial Vehicle Dataset from Scaramuzza lab

The Zurich Urban Micro Aerial Vehicle Dataset for Appearance-based Localization, Visual Odometry, and SLAM This presents the world’s first dataset recorded on-board a camera equipped Micro Aerial Vehicle (MAV) flying within urban streets at low altitudes (i.e., 5-15 meters above the ground). The 2 km dataset consists of time synchronized aerial high-resolution images, GPS and …

Insect-Inspired Mechanical Resilience for Multicopters

Over recent years the explosion in popularity of drones, both professionally and for amateur use, has inspired researchers to consider how to make flying robots as safe and robust as possible. Previous design methods have included producing bulky protective cages or making them as unlikely to crash as possible. Recently, researchers from Floreano Lab, NCCR Robotics and EPFL …

Scaramuzza Lab Honoured in 2016 World Robotics Report

09.01.17 – Scaramuzza Lab was one of the three outstanding research labs to present their research portfolio, experimental resources and fields of activity in the World Robotics Service Robots 2016 Report.World Robotics Service Robots 2016 Report

Upcoming Events

Date/Time Event Description
1 Sep – 3 Sep 2017
All Day
EPFL Drone Days
EPFL, Lausanne Suisse
From 1 to 3 September 2017, EPFL's Ecublens campus will host the first-ever EPFL Drone Days. This event, which will include the Swiss drone racing championship, a robotics showcase and...
6 Sep – 8 Sep 2017
All Day
European Conference on Mobile Robotics
Paris, Paris
Prof. Davide Scaramuzza will be a keynote speaker at this years European Conference on Mobile Robotics in Paris.
12 Sep – 15 Sep 2017
All Day
11th Conference on Field and Service Robotics
ETH Zurich, Zurich
For more details and to register please see:

Past Events

Date/Time Event Description
2 Jun 2017
8:30 am – 5:00 pm
ICRA Workshop on Event-based vision
sands expo and convention centre, Singapore 018971
Tobi Delbruck and Davide Scaramuzza are confirmed speakers. For more information please see:  
27 Mar – 31 Mar 2017
All Day
Design, Automation and Test in Europe 2017
SwissTech Convention Center, Ecublens
We will be at the DATE 2017 conference presenting a booth with Swiss Robotics partners.  If you would like to arrange a time to meet please contact
13 Jul – 15 Jul 2016
All Day
Workshop on Dynamic Locomotion and Manipulation (DLMC2016)
ETH Zurich, Zurich
Please see the website

Looking for publications? You might want to consider searching on the EPFL Infoscience site which provides advanced publication search capabilities.

A Collision Resilient Flying Robot

  • Authors: Briod, Adrien; Kornatowski, Przemyslaw Mariusz; Zufferey, Jean-Christophe; Floreano, Dario

Flying robots that can locomote efficiently in GPS-denied cluttered environments have many applications, such as in search and rescue scenarios. However, dealing with the high amount of obstacles inherent to such environments is a major challenge for flying vehicles. Conventional flying platforms cannot afford to collide with obstacles, as the disturbance from the impact may provoke a crash to the ground, especially when friction forces generate torques affecting the attitude of the platform. We propose a concept of resilient flying robots capable of colliding into obstacles without compromising their flight stability. Such platforms present great advantages over existing robots as they are capable of robust flight in cluttered environments without the need for complex sense and avoid strategies or 3D mapping of the environment. We propose a design comprising an inner frame equipped with conventional propulsion and stabilization systems enclosed in a protective cage that can rotate passively thanks to a 3-axis gimbal system, which reduces the impact of friction forces on the attitude of the inner frame. After addressing important design considerations thanks to a collision model and validation experiments, we present a proof-of-concept platform, named GimBall, capable of flying in various cluttered environments. Field experiments demonstrate the robot’s ability to fly fully autonomously through a forest while experiencing multiple collisions.

Posted on: November 29, 2013

A method for ego-motion estimation in micro-hovering platforms flying in very cluttered environments

  • Authors: Briod, Adrien; Zufferey, Jean-Christophe; Floreano, Dario

We aim at developing autonomous miniature hovering flying robots capable of navigating in unstructured GPS-denied environments. A major challenge is the miniaturization of the embedded sensors and processors that allow such platforms to fly by themselves. In this paper, we propose a novel ego-motion estimation algorithm for hovering robots equipped with inertial and optic-flow sensors that runs in real- time on a microcontroller and enables autonomous flight. Unlike many vision-based methods, this algorithm does not rely on feature tracking, structure estimation, additional dis- tance sensors or assumptions about the environment. In this method, we introduce the translational optic-flow direction constraint, which uses the optic-flow direction but not its scale to correct for inertial sensor drift during changes of direction. This solution requires comparatively much sim- pler electronics and sensors and works in environments of any geometry. Here we describe the implementation and per- formance of the method on a hovering robot equipped with eight 0.65 g optic-flow sensors, and show that it can be used for closed-loop control of various motions.

Posted on: February 1, 2016

An Active Uprighting Mechanism for Flying Robots

  • Authors: Klaptocz, Adam; Daler, Ludovic; Briod, Adrien; Zufferey, Jean-Christophe; Floreano, Dario

Flying robots have unique advantages in the exploration of cluttered environments such as caves or collapsed buildings. Current systems however have difficulty in dealing with the large amount of obstacles inherent to such environments. Collisions with obstacles generally result in crashes from which the platform can no longer recover. This paper presents a method for designing active uprighting mechanisms for protected rotorcraft-type flying robots that allow them to upright and subsequently take off again after an otherwise mission-ending collision. This method is demonstrated on a tailsitter flying robot which is capable of consistently uprighting after falling on its side using a spring-based ’leg’ and returning to the air to continue its mission.

Posted on: February 20, 2012

Contact-based navigation for an autonomous flying robot

  • Authors: Briod, Adrien; Kornatowski, Przemyslaw Mariusz; Klaptocz, Adam; Garnier, Arnaud; Pagnamenta, Marco; Zufferey, Jean-Christophe; Floreano, Dario

Autonomous navigation in obstacle-dense indoor environments is very challenging for flying robots due to the high risk of collisions, which may lead to mechanical damage of the platform and eventual failure of the mission. While conventional approaches in autonomous navigation favor obstacle avoidance strategies, recent work showed that collision-robust flying robots could hit obstacles without breaking and even self-recover after a crash to the ground. This approach is particularly interesting for autonomous navigation in complex environments where collisions are unavoidable, or for reducing the sensing and control complexity involved in obstacle avoidance. This paper aims at showing that collision-robust platforms can go a step further and exploit contacts with the environment to achieve useful navigation tasks based on the sense of touch. This approach is typically useful when weight restrictions prevent the use of heavier sensors, or as a low-level detection mechanism supplementing other sensing modalities. In this paper, a solution based on force and inertial sensors used to detect obstacles all around the robot is presented. Eight miniature force sensors, weighting 0.9g each, are integrated in the structure of a collision-robust flying platform without affecting its robustness. A proof-of-concept experiment demonstrates the use of contact sensing for exploring autonomously a room in 3D, showing significant advantages compared to a previous strategy. To our knowledge this is the first fully autonomous flying robot using touch sensors as only exteroceptive sensors.

Posted on: July 1, 2013

The AirBurr: A Flying Robot That Can Exploit Collisions

  • Authors: Briod, Adrien; Klaptocz, Adam; Zufferey, Jean-Christophe; Floreano, Dario

Research made over the past decade shows the use of increasingly complex methods and heavy platforms to achieve autonomous flight in cluttered environments. However, efficient behaviors can be found in nature where limited sensing is used, such as in insects progressing toward a light at night. Interestingly, their success is based on their ability to recover from the numerous collisions happening along their imperfect flight path. The goal of the AirBurr project is to take inspiration from these insects and develop a new class of flying robots that can recover from collisions and even exploit them. Such robots are designed to be robust to crashes and can take-off again without human intervention. They navigate in a reactive way and, unlike conventional approaches, they don’t need heavy modelling in order to fly autonomously. We believe that this new paradigm will bring flying robots out of the laboratory environment and allow them to tackle unstructured, cluttered environments. This paper aims at presenting the vision of the AirBurr project, as well as the latest results in the design of a platform capable of sustaining collisions and self-recovering after crashes.

Posted on: March 7, 2012