About Us

About Us

NCCR Robotics is a consortium of robotics laboratories across Switzerland, working on robots for improving the quality of life and to strengthen robotics in Switzerland and worldwide. Newsletter

NCCR Robotics

NCCR Robotics

Intelligent Robots for Improving the Quality of Life The National Centre of Competence in Research (NCCR) Robotics is a Swiss nationwide organisation funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation… Read more

Press Pack

Press Pack

For a summary of our activities please download our press pack.                 Need more information? Contact our Communications Officer:

Past Events

Date/Time Event Description
15 Jun – 16 Jun 2017
All Day
Building Bodies for Brains & Brains for Bodies & 3rd Japan-EU Workshop on Neurorobotics
Geneva, Geneva
Building Bodies for Brains & Brains for Bodies & 3rd Japan-EU Workshop on Neurorobotics Registration for both events now open.
4 Nov 2016
3:15 pm – 4:15 pm
Talk: Designing and Controlling Robots for Direct Interaction with Humans by Prof. Alin Albu-Schaeffer, German Aerospace Center, Germany.
ETH Zurich, HG G3, Zurich
9 Oct – 12 Oct 2016
All Day
WORKSHOP ON BRAIN-MACHINE INTERFACES (SMC 2016)
Intercontinental Hotel, BUDAPEST, 1052 Budapest
Please see: https://documents.epfl.ch/users/c/ch/chavarri/www/IEEESMC2016_BMI/BMI-IEEESMC2016.html

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

A review: Can robots reshape K-12 STEM education?

  • Authors: Karim, Mohammad Ehsanul; Lemaignan, Séverin; Mondada, Francesco

Can robots in classroom reshape K-12 STEM education, and foster new ways of learning? To sketch an answer, this article reviews, side-by-side, existing literature on robot-based learning activities featuring mathematics and physics (purposefully putting aside the well-studied field of "robots to teach robotics") and existing robot platforms and toolkits suited for classroom environment (in terms of cost, ease of use, orchestration load for the teacher, etc.). Our survey suggests that the use of robots in classroom has indeed moved from purely technology to education, to encompass new didactic fields. We however identified several shortcomings, in terms of robotic platforms and teaching environments, that contribute to the limited presence of robotics in existing curricula; the lack of specific teacher training being likely pivotal. Finally, we propose an educational framework merging the tangibility of robots with the advanced visibility of augmented reality.

Posted on: June 25, 2015

Anthropomorphic Language in Online Forums about Roomba, AIBO and the iPad

  • Authors: Fink, Julia; Mubin, Omar; Kaplan, Frédéric; Dillenbourg, Pierre

What encourages people to refer to a robot as if it was a living being? Is it because of the robot’s humanoid or animal-like shape, its movements or rather the kind of inter- action it enables? We aim to investigate robots’ characteristics that lead people to anthropomorphize it by comparing different kinds of robotic devices and contrasting it to an interactive technology. We addressed this question by comparing anthro- pomorphic language in online forums about the Roomba robotic vacuum cleaner, the AIBO robotic dog, and the iPad tablet computer. A content analysis of 750 postings was carried out. We expected to find the highest amount of anthropomorphism in the AIBO forum but were not sure about how far people referred to Roomba or the iPad as a lifelike artifact. Findings suggest that people anthropomorphize their robotic dog signifi- cantly more than their Roomba or iPad, across different topics of forum posts. Further, the topic of the post had a significant impact on anthropomorphic language.

Posted on: March 15, 2012

Anthropomorphism and Human Likeness in the Design of Robots and Human-Robot Interaction

  • Author: Fink, Julia

In this literature review we explain anthropomorphism and its role in the design of socially interactive robots and human-robot interaction. We illus-trate the social phenomenon of anthropomorphism which describes people’s tendency to attribute lifelike qualities to objects and other non lifelike artifacts. We present theoretical backgrounds from social sciences, and integrate related work from robotics research, including results from experiments with social ro-bots. We present different approaches for anthropomorphic and humanlike form in a robot’s design related to its physical shape, its behavior, and its interaction with humans. This review provides a comprehensive understanding of anthro-pomorphism in robotics, collects and reports relevant references, and gives an outlook on anthropomorphic human-robot interaction.

Posted on: August 14, 2012

Cellulo: Versatile Handheld Robots for Education

  • Authors: Ozgur, Ayberk; Lemaignan, Séverin; Johal, Wafa; Beltran, Maria; Briod, Manon; Pereyre, Léa; Mondada, Francesco; Dillenbourg, Pierre

In this article, we present Cellulo, a novel robotic platform that investigates the intersection of three ideas for robotics in education: designing the robots to be versatile and generic tools; blending robots into the classroom by designing them to be pervasive objects and by creating tight interactions with (already pervasive) paper; and finally considering the practical constraints of real classrooms at every stage of the design. Our platform results from these considerations and builds on a unique combination of technologies: groups of handheld haptic-enabled robots, tablets and activity sheets printed on regular paper. The robots feature holonomic motion, haptic feedback capability and high accuracy localization through a microdot pattern overlaid on top of the activity sheets, while remaining affordable (robots cost about EUR 125 at the prototype stage) and classroom-friendly. We present the platform and report on our first interaction studies, involving about 230 children.

Posted on: January 9, 2017

From Real-time Attention Assessment to “With-me-ness” in Human-Robot Interaction

  • Authors: Lemaignan, Séverin; Garcia, Fernando; Jacq, Alexis David; Dillenbourg, Pierre

Measuring “how much the human is in the interaction” — the level of engagement — is instrumental in building effective interactive robots. Engagement, however, is a complex, multi-faceted cognitive mechanism that is only indirectly observable. This article formalizes with-me-ness as one of such indirect measures. With-me-ness, a concept borrowed from the field of Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning, measures in a well-defined way to what extent the human is with the robot over the course of an interactive task. As such, it is a meaningful precursor of engagement. We expose in this paper the full methodology, from real-time estimation of the human’s focus of attention (relying on a novel, open-source, vision-based head pose estimator), to on-line computation of with-me-ness. We report as well on the experimental validation of this approach, using a naturalistic setup involving children during a complex robot-teaching task.

Posted on: February 22, 2016

How Children Tidy up Their Room with "Ranger" the Robotic Box

  • Authors: Fink, Julia; Vaussard, Florian Christopher; Rétornaz, Philippe; Berthoud, Alain; Mondada, Francesco; Dillenbourg, Pierre

"Ranger" is a robotic box designed to motivate young children to tidy up the toys in their rom. It explores the idea of integrating robotics into daily life objects, such as a wooden box. The box shows light and sound when toys are put inside or removed. We carried out a series of field experiments (Wizard-of-Oz) with 14 families to evaluate the first prototype of Ranger. The robot was operated showing two different behaviors: an active or a passive one. We found that the robot’s behavior had an impact on how children interacted with it. The poster also describes children’s and parent’s evaluation of the robot and how the design of Ranger could be improved.

Posted on: November 5, 2012

HRI in the home: A Longitudinal Ethnographic Study with Roomba

  • Authors: Fink, Julia; Bauwens, Valérie; Mubin, Omar; Kaplan, Frédéric; Dillenbourg, Pierre

Personal service robots, such as the iRobot Roomba vacuum cleaner provide a promising opportunity to study human-robot interaction (HRI) in domestic environments. Still rather little is known about long-term impacts of robotic home appliances on people’s daily routines and attitudes and how they evolve over time. We investigate these aspects through a longitudinal ethnographic study with nine households, to which we gave a Roomba cleaning robot. During six months, data is gathered through a combination of qualitative and quantitative methods.

Posted on: November 28, 2011

Lessons Learned from Robotic Vacuum Cleaners Entering in the Home Ecosystem

  • Authors: Vaussard, Florian Christopher; Fink, Julia; Bauwens, Valérie; Rétornaz, Philippe; Hamel, David; Dillenbourg, Pierre; Mondada, Francesco

This article considers the suitability of current robots designed to assist humans in accomplishing their daily domestic tasks. With several million units sold worldwide, robotic vacuum cleaners are currently the figurehead in this field. As such, we will use them to investigate the following key question: How does a service cleaning robot performs in a real household? One must consider not just how well a robot accomplishes its task, but also how well it integrates inside the user’s space and perception. We took a holistic approach to addressing these topics by combining two studies in order to build a common ground. In the first of these studies, we analyzed a sample of seven robots to identify the influence of key technologies, like the navigation system, on technical performance. In the second study, we conducted an ethnographic study within nine households to identify users’ needs. This innovative approach enables us to recommend a number of concrete improvements aimed at fulfilling users’ needs by leveraging current technologies to reach new possibilities.

Posted on: June 28, 2013

Lessons learned from robotic vacuum cleaners entering the home ecosystem

  • Authors: Vaussard, F.; Fink, J.; Bauwens, V.; Retornaz, P.; Hamel, D.; Dillenbourg, P.; Mondada, F.

This article considers the suitability of current robots designed to assist humans in accomplishing their daily domestic tasks. With several million units sold worldwide, robotic vacuum cleaners are currently the figurehead in this field. As such, we will use them to investigate the following key question: How does a service cleaning robot perform in a real household? One must consider not just how well a robot accomplishes its task, but also how well it integrates inside the user’s space and perception. We took a holistic approach to addressing these topics by combining two studies in order to build a common ground. In the first of these studies, we analyzed a sample of seven robots to identify the influence of key technologies, such as the navigation system, on technical performance. In the second study, we conducted an ethnographic study within nine households to identify users’ needs. This innovative approach enables us to recommend a number of concrete improvements aimed at fulfilling users’ needs by leveraging current technologies to reach new possibilities. (C) 2013 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Posted on: May 2, 2014