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

Keep in Touch

Keep in Touch

Use this form to contact us and we will get back to you as soon as possible. Alternatively you can email us on nccr-robotics@epfl.ch (general enquiries); communication@nccr-robotics.ch (press enquiries)… Read more

Drones can almost see in the dark

(credit: UZH/Davide Scaramuzza) UZH researchers have taught drones how to fly using an eye-inspired camera, opening the door to them performing fast, agile maneuvers and flying in low-light environments. Possible applications could include supporting rescue teams with search missions at dusk or dawn. To fly safely, drones need to know their precise position and orientation …

A foldable cargo drone

The field of drone delivery is currently very much in the public eye. However, the reason that your internet shopping doesn’t yet arrive via drone is that current flying robots are difficult to transport and store and can prove a safety risk to people. A team from Floreano Lab, NCCR Robotics and EPFL presents a new type of cargo drone …

New soft robots really suck!

Recent advances in soft robotics have seen the development of soft pneumatic actuators (SPAs) to ensure that all parts of the robot are soft, including the functional parts. These SPAs have traditionally used increased pressure in parts of the actuator to initiate movement, but today a team from NCCR Robotics and RRL, EPFL publish a …

Control of Motor-Imagery BCI by a User with Locked-In Syndrome

Using Brain Computer Interfaces (BCI) as a way to give people with locked-in syndrome back reliable communication and control capabilities has long been a futuristic trope of medical dramas and sci fi. A team from NCCR Robotics and CNBI, EPFL have recently published a paper detailing work as a step towards taking this technique into everyday lives …

Multi-directional gravity assist helps rehabilitation training

When training to regain movement after stroke or spinal cord injury (SCI), patients must once again learn how to keep their balance during walking movements. Current clinical methods mean supporting the weight of the patient during movement, setting the body off balance and meaning that when patients are ready to begin to walk without mechanical …

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.

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Past Events

Date/Time Event Description
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/
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.
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...
18 Aug 2017
2:00 pm – 3:00 pm
Seminar: Nanocomposite based Sensing and Monitoring
MED 115 18, EPFL, Lausanne
Abstract: With the advent of information and communication technologies (ICT), the cost effective, robust and accurate sensors are becoming important elements of internet of things (IoT). Polymeric composite sensors that...
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...
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.
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
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
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
9 Oct – 12 Oct 2016
All Day
Intercontinental Hotel, BUDAPEST, 1052 Budapest
Please see: https://documents.epfl.ch/users/c/ch/chavarri/www/IEEESMC2016_BMI/BMI-IEEESMC2016.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

Actuator With Angle-Dependent Elasticity for Biomimetic Transfemoral Prostheses

  • Authors: Pfeifer, Serge; Pagel, Anna; Riener, Robert; Vallery, Heike

Despite tremendous improvements in recent years, lower-limb prostheses are still inferior to their biological counterparts. Most powered knee joints use impedance control, but it is unknown which impedance profiles are needed to replicate physiological behavior. Recently, we have developed a method to quantify such profiles from conventional gait data. Based on this method, we derive stiffness requirements for knee prostheses, and we propose an actuation concept where physical actuator stiffness changes in function of joint angle. The idea is to express stiffness and moment requirements as functions of angle, and then to combine a series elastic actuator (SEA) with an optimized nonlinear transmission and parallel springs to reproduce the profiles. By considering the angle-dependent stiffness requirement, the upper bound for the impedance in zero-force control could be reduced by a factor of two. We realize this ANGle-dependent ELAstic Actuator (ANGELAA) in a leg, with rubber cords as series elastic elements. Hysteresis in the rubber is accounted for, and knee moment is estimated with a mean error of 0.7 Nm. The nonlinear parallel elasticity creates equilibria near 0◦ as well as 90◦ knee flexion, frequent postures in daily life. Experimental evaluation in a test setup shows force control bandwidth around 5–9 Hz, and a pilot experiment with an amputee subject shows the feasibility of the approach. While weight and power consumption are not optimized in this prototype, the incorporated mechatronic principles may pave the way for cheaper and lighter actuators in artificial legs and in other applications where stiffness requirements depend on kinematic configuration.

Posted on: October 22, 2014

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

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

Bioinspired morphing wings for extended flight envelope and roll control of small drones

  • Authors: di Luca, Matteo; Mintchev, Stefano; Heitz, Grégoire Hilaire Marie; Noca, Flavio; Floreano, Dario

Small-winged drones can face highly varied aerodynamic requirements, such as high manoeuvrability for flight among obstacles and high wind resistance for constant ground speed against strong headwinds that cannot all be optimally addressed by a single aerodynamic profile. Several bird species solve this problem by changing the shape of their wings to adapt to the different aerodynamic requirements. Here, we describe a novel morphing wing design composed of artificial feathers that can rapidly modify its geometry to fulfil different aerodynamic requirements. We show that a fully deployed configuration enhances manoeuvrability while a folded configuration offers low drag at high speeds and is beneficial in strong headwinds. We also show that asymmetric folding of the wings can be used for roll control of the drone. The aerodynamic performance of the morphing wing is characterized in simulations, in wind tunnel measurements and validated in outdoor flights with a small drone.

Posted on: December 20, 2016

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
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