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 Australia Austria China Finland France Germany Hungary Italy Japan Singapore Switzerland United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States Region All Regions State/County… 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

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

Fotokite, NCCR Robotics spin-off, wins Round II of the GENIUS NY accelerator

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced that the winner of the $1 million grand prize from Round II of the GENIUS NY accelerator is Fotokite, a team from Switzerland. The initiative is one of the world’s largest business competitions focused on unmanned systems. ​     GENIUS NY, a year-long business accelerator, awarded six finalist teams a total …

NCCR drones can now be effortlessly controlled with pointing gestures.

NCCR drones can now be effortlessly controlled with pointing gestures. A video demonstration of the system developed by IDSIA has been published at the Human-Robot Interaction (HRI 2018) conference, March 5-8, 2018, Chicago, IL, USA. More info: http://people.idsia.ch/~gromov/hri-landing/

Fotokite selected amongst finalists of the Genius NY Competition

 Fotokite, an NCCR Robotics spin-off, has been selected amongst the 6 finalists of the Genius NY Competition The Highlights The cohort will arrive at The Tech Garden in downtown Syracuse, NY in January for nearly 12 months of acceleration and incubation. Two phase in-residence accelerator program Phase One: Six teams receive a monthly stipend ($10,000 per month …

Meet Tribot, the Swiss Army knife of robots for rescue missions

23.02.18 – EPFL scientists are developing a three-legged robot for search and rescue missions that can crawl, roll, jump, and – like a Swiss Army knife – fold away into compact form, all on less power than your standard LED light. Meet Tribot, the three-legged origami robot designed and built by EPFL scientists. Tri- for …

New Master in Robotics at EPFL

Program’s Objectives This program provides education on the theory, technology and practice of intelligent robots, such as mobile robots, wearable robots, robotic manipulators, autonomous and brain-interfaced robots. In addition to classes spanning from electromechanical systems to advanced artificial intelligence, the program offers a large set of hands-on activities where students learn by designing, prototyping and …

Drones learn to navigate autonomously by imitating cars and bicycles

Developed by UZH researchers, the algorithm DroNet allows drones to fly completely by themselves through the streets of a city and in indoor environments. Therefore, the algorithm had to learn traffic rules and adapt training examples from cyclists and car drivers. All today’s commercial drones use GPS, which works fine above building roofs and in …

Three NCCR Robotics Spin Offs selected in the IMD Start-up Competition 2017/2018

Feeltronix, Fotokite and TWIICE have been selected in this competition. For more info, visit IMD webpage. The Feeltronix breakthrough technology platform stretches the mechanical limits of electronics and provides solutions for robust and ultra-compliant rubber-based systems. Applications include smart bands for the next generation of wearables in sports, healthcare, AR/VR and fashion. feeltronix.com Fotokite is a spin-off from ETHZürich’s Flying Machine Arena with patented technology that fundamentally solves …

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Upcoming Events

Date/Time Event Description
21 May – 25 May 2018
All Day
ICRA 2018, Brisbane, Australia
Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Center, South Brisbane
Roland Siegward, NCCR Robotics PI, will be a member of the Industry Forum Chairs Committee at ICRA 2018, in Brisbane, Australia. Margarita Chli, NCCR Robotics PI, will give a keynote...
31 Jul – 2 Aug 2018
All Day
EPFL Drone Days
EPFL, Lausanne Suisse
Some NCCR Robotics laboratories will present demos at the EPFL Drone Days 2018. https://dronedays.epfl.ch
18 Oct – 19 Oct 2018
All Day
SNSF Site Visit 2018 The 2018 SNSF Site Visit will take place in Bern, on October 18 and 19th. More information will be provided closer to the dates.
29 Oct – 31 Oct 2018
All Day
Conference on Robot Learning (CoRL 2018) CoRL 2018 will take place on October 29-31 2018 in Zurich. The conference focuses on the intersection of robotics and machine learning. CoRL aims at being a selective, top-tier venue...
1 Nov 2018
11:00 am – 6:00 pm
Swiss Robotics Industry Day 2018
SwissTech Convention Center, Ecublens
The next Swiss Robotics Industry Day will take place on November 1st, 2018 at the Swiss Tech Convention Centre, in Lausanne. All information on the event can be found here: http://swissroboticsindustry.ch

Past Events

Date/Time Event Description
23 Apr – 27 Apr 2018
All Day
Hannover Messe
Deutsche Messe, Hannover
NCCR Robotics has a booth within the Swiss Innovation Pavillion and will be accompanied by 2 two of our spin-offs:  MyoSwiss and Foldaway Haptics and the project "MIRobotics". For more information...
13 Mar – 15 Mar 2018
All Day
European Robotics Forum
Tampere Hall, Tampere
The European Robotics Forum (ERF) 2018 hosted over 900 participants this year in Tampere, Finland from 13 to 15th March. NCCR Robotics was present with a booth, hosting two of...
8 Mar – 9 Mar 2018
All Day
NCCR Robotics Annual Retreat
Hotel Ambassador, Bern
The 2018 NCCR Robotics Annual Retreat (Bern, 8-9th March) was very successful, not only in bringing the community together but in achieving its targets in preparation for the next phase...
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
4:00 pm – 5:00 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
2:00 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
4:00 pm – 5:00 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
10:30 am – 7:00 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
4:30 pm – 6:30 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
11:00 am – 12:00 pm
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
3:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Talk by Dr Diego Pardo (ETHZ) Legged Robots: Stepping out of the continuous and differentiable zone.
EPFL, Lausanne
16 Dec 2016
4:15 pm – 5:15 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
4:15 pm – 5:15 pm
Talk: Insect-inspired technologies for civilian drones by Dario Floreano
ETH Zurich, HG G3, Zurich
9 Nov 2016
11:00 am – 12:00 pm
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
4:15 pm – 5:15 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
5:15 pm – 6:15 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 Drone with Insect-Inspired Folding Wings

  • Authors: Dufour, Louis; Owen, Kevin; Mintchev, Stefano; Floreano, Dario

Flying robots are increasingly adopted in search and rescue missions because of their capability to quickly collect and stream information from remote and dangerous areas. To further enhance their use, we are investigating the development of a new class of drones, foldable sensorized hubs that can quickly take off from rescuers’ hands as soon as they are taken out of a pocket or a backpack. With this aim, this paper presents the development of a foldable wing inspired by insects. The wing can be packaged for transportation or deployed for flight in half a second with a simple action from the user. The wing is manufactured as a thick origami structure with a foldable multi-layer material. The prototype of the foldable wing is experimentally characterized and validated in flight on a mini-drone.

Posted on: September 14, 2016

A Foldable Antagonistic Actuator

  • Authors: Shintake, Jun; Rosset, Samuel; Schubert, Bryan Edward; Floreano, Dario; Shea, Herbert

We report on an actuator based on dielectric elastomers that is capable of antagonistic actuation and passive folding. This actuator enables foldability in robots with simple structures. Unlike other antagonistic dielectric elastomer devices, our concept uses elastic hinges to allow the folding of the structure, which also provides an additional design parameter. To validate the actuator concept through a specific application test, a foldable elevon actuator with outline size of 70 mm × 130 mm is developed with angular displacement range and torque specifications matched to a 400-mm wingspan micro-air vehicle (MAV) of mass 130 g. A closed-form analytical model of the actuator is constructed, which was used to guide the actuator design. The actuator consists of 125-μm-thick silicone membranes as the dielectric elastomers, 0.2mm-thick fiberglass plate as the frame structure, and 50-μm-thick polyimide as the elastic hinge. We measured voltage-controllable angular displacement up to ±26° and torque of 2720 mN · mm at 5 kV, with good agreement between the model and the measured data. Two elevon actuators are integrated into the MAV, which was successfully flown, with the foldable actuators providing stable and well-controlled flight. The controllability was quantitatively evaluated by calculating the correlation between the control signal and the MAV motion, with a correlation in roll axis of over 0.7 measured during the flights, illustrating the high performance of this foldable actuator.

Posted on: September 16, 2014

A low-cost, actuated passive dynamic walker kit for accessible research and education

  • Authors: Robertson, Matthew Aaron; Paik, Jamie; Ijspeert, Auke; Wu, Amy

A low-cost bipedal walking robot kit with limited actuation and sensing capabilities was designed and built to achieve actively powered, passive dynamic walking locomotion over level ground. The walking system is composed of readily available parts and materials totaling less than $50 and can be assembled either from plans or pre-fabricated parts in less than a day. Indeed, the very first (and only) prototype was conceived and built in one day, and capable of walking within two more. In place of components utilized for the prototype shown and demonstrated, alternative parts and materials can be substituted and accommodated by relatively simple design changes, allowing this robot construction to be adapted to different resource availability, in some cases key to the success of research or education.

Posted on: October 16, 2017

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 Perching Mechanism for Flying Robots Using a Fibre-Based Adhesive

  • Authors: Daler, Ludovic; Klaptocz, Adam; Briod, Adrien; Sitti, Metin; Floreano, Dario

Robots capable of hover flight in constrained indoor environments have many applications, however their range is constrained by the high energetic cost of airborne locomotion. Perching allows flying robots to scan their environment without the need to remain aloft. This paper presents the design of a mechanism that allows indoor flying robots to attach to vertical surfaces. To date, solutions that enable flying robot with perching capabilities either require high precision control of the dynamics of the robot or a mechanism robust to high energy impacts. We propose in this article a perching mechanism comprising a compliant deployable pad and a passive self-alignment system, that does not require any active control during the attachment procedure. More specifically, a perching mechanism using fibre-based dry adhesives was implemented on a 300 g flying platform. An adhesive pad was first modeled and optimized in shape for maximum attachment force at the low pre-load forces inherent to hovering platforms. It was then mounted on a deployable mechanism that stays within the structure of the robot during flight and can be deployed when a perching maneuver is initiated. Finally, the perching mechanism is integrated onto a real flying robot and successful perching maneuvers are demonstrated as a proof of concept.

Posted on: January 29, 2013

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

Adaptive fast open-loop maneuvers for quadrocopters

  • Authors: Lupashin, Sergei; D"Andrea, Raffaello

We present a conceptually and computationally lightweight method for the design and iterative learning of fast maneuvers for quadrocopters. We use first-principles, reduced-order models and we do not require nor make an attempt to follow a specific state trajectory-only the initial and the final states of the vehicle are taken into account. We evaluate the adaptation scheme through experiments on quadrocopters in the ETH Flying Machine Arena that perform multi-flips and other high-performance maneuvers.

Posted on: August 23, 2012
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