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

Event Library

Event Library

Search Near… Dates and Country All Countries Austria China France Germany Hungary Singapore Switzerland United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States Region All Regions State/County All States Within 5… Read more

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, …

Meet the Dillenbourg Lab

Welcome to the third of our Lab videos section where we introduce the NCCR Robotics lab, PI, NCCR Robotics members and their work. On this occasion we present Dillenbourg Lab.  

EPFL- STI Interdisciplinary Robot competition

June 12th, five groups of three STI master students competed in this year’s robot competition. Team 2 (Cyrill Baumann, Julien Di Tria and Shupeng Wei) won the competition with the RoBat robot.

Mori: A Modular Origami Robot

The fields of modular and origami robotics have become increasingly popular in recent years, with both approaches presenting particular benefits, as well as limitations, to the end user. Christoph Belke and Jamie Paik from RRL, EPFL and NCCR Robotics have recently proposed an elegant new solution that integrates both types of robotics in order to …

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

Nicolas Sommer PhD defense

Nicolas Sommer’s, (Billard Lab), public thesis defense will take place 19th May at EPFL, the title will be Multi-contact tactile exploration and interaction with unknown objects.

Jonas Buchli

We would like to inform our members that Jonas Buchli ceased his activities with NCCR Robotics end of March 2017. He will be taking up a position in the private sector and will continue the PhD supervision of Alexander Winkler until his graduation. Algorithms and Software developed at Jonas’ lab are or will be published open-source …

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

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: https://www.fsr.ethz.ch/

Past Events

Date/Time Event Description
5 Jul 2017
12:00 am
RSS 2017 Workshop: Challenges in Dynamic Legged Locomotion
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge
The performance of modern legged robots still pales in comparison to their biological counterparts in terms of speed, robustness, versatility, and efficiency. The technical challenges that fuel this gap touch...
21 Jun 2017
2:00 pm – 3:00 pm
Talk by Prof. Harmut Geyer (CMU) on neuromechanical modeling of human locomotion
ME D1 1518, ecublens Suisse
Research at CMU’s Legged Systems Group Prof. Harmut Geyer, Carnegie Mellon University https://www.cs.cmu.edu/~hgeyer/ Abstract: Research at CMU’s legged systems group focuses on three questions: What are the principles of legged...
5 Jun – 10 Jun 2017
All Day
Summer School on Rehabilitation Robotics
Biomedical Engineering School, Shanghai
Organised by the Riener Lab, ETH Zurich. For more information please see: http://www.sms.hest.ethz.ch/news-and-events/sms-news-channel/2017/01/summer-school-on-rehabilitation-robotics.html          
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: http://rpg.ifi.uzh.ch/ICRA17_event_vision_workshop.html  
28 Mar 2017
2:30 pm – 4:30 pm
Talks: By Professor Fumiya Iida & By Professor Robert J. Full
EPFL, Lausanne Suisse
Talks: Model-free design optimization of soft robots: Any hope? By Professor Fumiya Iida (Cambridge Univ.), (14:30 – 15:30). BioMotion Science: Leapin’ Lizards, Compressed Cockroaches and Smart Squirrels Inspire Robots By...
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 techtransfer@nccr-robotics.ch
18 Mar – 19 Mar 2017
All Day
CoWriter project presented at GES, Dubai
Atlantis The Palm, Dubai
16 Mar 2017
10:00 am – 11:00 am
Talk by Prof. Eric Tytell (Tufts University), Quantifying responses to perturbations during locomotion in fish
MED 115 18, EPFL, Lausanne
6 Mar – 9 Mar 2017
All Day
R4L @HRI2017
Aula der Wissenschaft – Hall of Science, Vienna
13 Feb 2017
2:00 pm – 3:00 pm
Talk by Dr Diego Pardo (ETHZ) Legged Robots: Stepping out of the continuous and differentiable zone.
EPFL, Lausanne
16 Dec 2016
3:15 pm – 4:15 pm
Talk: MIT Cheetah: new design paradigm shift toward mobile robots, ETH Distinguished Lecture in Robotics, Systems & Control - Sangbae Kim
ETH Zurich, HG G3, Zurich
19 Nov 2016
3:15 pm – 4:15 pm
Talk: Insect-inspired technologies for civilian drones by Dario Floreano
ETH Zurich, HG G3, Zurich
9 Nov 2016
10:00 am – 11:00 am
Talk: Rehabilitation robotics - Cristina Santos, Universidade do Minho, Portugal; Dealing with uncertainty in robot grasping - Alexandre Bernardino, Instituto Superior Técnico, Lisbon, Portugal; Locomotion with the Walkman humanoid robot - Nikos Tsagarakis, Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia, Genova, Italy.
MED 115 18, EPFL, Lausanne
23 Oct – 27 Oct 2016
All Day
International Symposium on Safety, Security and Rescue Robotics (SSRR 16)
EPFL, Lausanne Suisse
Please see http://ssrrobotics.org/index.html
23 Sep 2016
3:15 pm – 4:15 pm
Talk: Humanitarian Robotics and Automation Technologies by Dr. Raj Madhavan
ETH Zurich, HG G3, Zurich
13 Jul – 15 Jul 2016
All Day
Workshop on Dynamic Locomotion and Manipulation (DLMC2016)
ETH Zurich, Zurich
Please see the website http://www.dlmc2016.ethz.ch/
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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

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

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

Bringing robotics into formal education using the Thymio open source hardware robot

  • Authors: Mondada, Francesco; Bonani, Michael; Riedo, Fanny; Briod, Manon; Pereyre, Léa; Rétornaz, Philippe; Magnenat, Stéphane


Posted on: November 21, 2016

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

Cutting Down the Energy Consumed by Domestic Robots: Insights from Robotic Vacuum Cleaners

  • Authors: Vaussard, Florian Christopher; Rétornaz, Philippe; Hamel, David; Mondada, Francesco

The market of domestic service robots, and especially vacuum cleaners, has kept growing during the past decade. According to the International Federation of Robotics, more than 1 million units were sold worldwide in 2010. Currently, there is no in-depth analysis of the energetic impact of the introduction of this technology on the mass market. This topic is of prime importance in our energy-dependant society. This study aims at identifying key technologies leading to the reduction of the energy consumption of a domestic mobile robot, by exploring the design space using technologies issued from the robotic research field, such as the various localization and navigation strategies. This approach is validated through an in-depth analysis of seven vacuum cleaning robots. These results are used to build a global assessment of the influential parameters. The major outcome is the assessment of the positive impact of both the ceiling-based visual localization and the laser-based localization approaches.

Posted on: May 31, 2012

Distributed Particle Swarm Optimization for limited-time adaptation with real robots

  • Authors: Di Mario, Ezequiel; Martinoli, Alcherio

Evaluative techniques offer a tremendous potential for online controller design. However, when the optimization space is large and the performance metric is noisy, the overall adaptation process becomes extremely time consuming. Distributing the adaptation process reduces the required time and increases robustness to failure of individual agents. In this paper, we analyze the role of the four algorithmic parameters that determine the total evaluation time in a distributed implementation of a Particle Swarm Optimization (PSO) algorithm. For an obstacle avoidance case study using up to eight robots, we explore in simulation the lower boundaries of these parameters and propose a set of empirical guidelines for choosing their values. We then apply these guidelines to a real robot implementation and show that it is feasible to optimize 24 control parameters per robot within 2 h, a limited amount of time determined by the robots’ battery life. We also show that a hybrid simulate-and-transfer approach coupled with a noise-resistant PSO algorithm can be used to further reduce experimental time as compared to a pure real-robot implementation.

Posted on: November 29, 2013

Fuzzy Control System for Autonomous Navigation and Parking of Thymio II Mobile Robots

  • Authors: Boufera, Fatma; Debbat, Fatima; Mondada, Francesco; Khelfi, M. Fayçal

This paper proposed a fuzzy controller for the autonomous navigation problem of robotic systems in a dynamic and uncertain environment. In particular, we are interested in determining the robot motion to reach the target while ensuring their own safety and that of different agents that surround it. To achieve these goals, we have adopted a fuzzy controller for navigation and avoidance obstacle, taking into account the changing nature of the environment. The approach has been tested and validated on a Thymio II robots set. As application field, we have chosen a parking problem.

Posted on: July 26, 2014

Haptic-Enabled Handheld Mobile Robots: Design and Analysis

  • Authors: Ozgur, Ayberk; Johal, Wafa; Mondada, Francesco; Dillenbourg, Pierre

The Cellulo robots are small tangible robots that are designed to represent virtual interactive point-like objects that reside on a plane within carefully designed learning activities. In the context of these activities, our robots not only display autonomous motion and act as tangible interfaces, but are also usable as haptic devices in order to exploit, for instance, kinesthetic learning. In this article, we present the design and analysis of the haptic interaction module of the Cellulo robots. We first detail our hardware and controller design that is low-cost and versatile. Then, we describe the task-based experimental procedure to evaluate the robot’s haptic abilities. We show that our robot is usable in most of the tested tasks and extract perceptive and manipulative guidelines for the design of haptic elements to be integrated in future learning activities. We conclude with limitations of the system and future work.

Posted on: January 17, 2017