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



On 8th October 2016, the world’s first Cybathlon took place in Zurich, Switzerland. The Cybathlon is a competition for people with disabilities using robotic assistive aids to complete tasks… Read more

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



Orthoses, or exoskeletons as they’re more commonly known, are a method to either assist those with reduced mobility in certain parts of their body, or to completely reintroduce function… 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

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.

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 …

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 …

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Upcoming Events

Date/Time Event Description
25 Jul 2017
6:30 pm
ROBOTIK-LABOR AN DER ETH ZÜRICH - TeleZüri Sendung Tune into TeleZüri at 18:30 to hear Robert Riener speaking about all things rehabilitation robotics and Cybathlon. http://www.telezueri.ch/64-show-sommertalk
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...
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...
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          
16 May – 18 May 2017
All Day
Paris, Paris
Read more
24 Apr – 28 Apr 2017
All Day
Hannover Messe
Hannover Messe, Hannover
We will present a booth at the Hannover Messe along with Swiss Robotics partners. To organise a meeting with us please contact techtransfer@nccr-robotics.ch 
5 Apr 2017
11:00 am – 12:00 pm
Talk: Hearing the light: Optogenetic Sti
Campus Biotech, H8 Auditorium, Geneva
Hearing the light: Optogenetic Sti by Tobias Moser Institute for Auditory Neuroscience & InnerEarLab, University Medical Center Goettingen, GE. For more information please see the seminar website.
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...
20 Mar 2017
6:15 pm – 7:45 pm
Talk: Roboter als Reha-Helfer im Einsatz by Robert Riener
Universität Zurich Zentrum, Hörsaal KOL-F-101, Zurich
For more information please see the official flyer.
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
2 Mar 2017
12:30 pm – 2:00 pm
Business Ideas @EPFL Swiss Robotics going global
SwissTech Convention Center, Ecublens
2 Mar 2017
12:30 pm – 2:00 pm
Business Ideas @EPFL
SwissTech Convention Center, Ecublens
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
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
2 Nov 2016
All Day
Swiss Robotics Industry Day
SwissTech Convention Center, Ecublens
Please see www.swissindustryday.ch
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
8 Oct 2016
12:00 am
Cybathlon 2016
SWISS Arena, Kloten
Please see www.cybathlon.com
6 Oct 2016
All Day
Cybathlon Symposium
SWISS Arena, Kloten
For further information, please see http://www.cybathlon-symposium.ethz.ch/
30 Sep – 7 Jan 2016
All Day
The origami robot Tribot from Paik lab is currently at the exhibition in +Ultra Knowledge & Gestaltung in Berlin
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 Brain-Controlled Exoskeleton with Cascaded Event-Related Desynchronization Classifiers

  • Authors: Lee, Kyuhwa; Liu, Dong; Perroud, Laetitia; Chavarriaga, Ricardo; Millán, José del R.

This paper describes a brain-machine interface for the online control of a powered lower-limb exoskeleton based on electroencephalogram (EEG) signals recorded over the user’s sensorimotor cortical areas. We train a binary decoder that can distinguish two different mental states, which is applied in a cascaded manner to efficiently control the exoskeleton in three different directions: walk front, turn left and turn right. This is realized by first classifying the user’s intention to walk front or change the direction. If the user decides to change the direction, a subsequent classification is performed to decide turn left or right. The user’s mental command is conditionally executed considering the possibility of obstacle collision. All five subjects were able to successfully complete the 3-way navigation task using brain signals while mounted in the exoskeleton. We observed on average 10.2% decrease in overall task completion time compared to the baseline protocol.

Posted on: August 31, 2016

A Comparison of Casting and Spiraling Algorithms for Odor Source Localization in Laminar Flow

  • Authors: Lochmatter, Thomas; Raemy, Xavier; Matthey, Loïc; Indra, Saurabh; Martinoli, Alcherio

We compare two well-known algorithms for locating odor sources in environments with a main wind flow. Their plume tracking performance is tested through systematic experiments with real robots in a wind tunnel under laminar flow condition. We present the system setup and show the wind and odor profiles. The results are then compared in terms of time and distance to reach the source, as well as speed in upwind direction. We conclude that the spiral- surge algorithm yields significantly better results than the casting algorithm, and discuss possible rationales behind this performance difference.

Posted on: February 9, 2008

A Comparison of PSO and Reinforcement Learning for Multi-Robot Obstacle Avoidance

  • Authors: Di Mario, Ezequiel; Talebpour, Zeynab; Martinoli, Alcherio

The design of high-performing robotic controllers constitutes an example of expensive optimization in uncertain environments due to the often large parameter space and noisy performance metrics. There are several evaluative techniques that can be employed for on-line controller design. Adequate benchmarks help in the choice of the right algorithm in terms of final performance and evaluation time. In this paper, we use multi-robot obstacle avoidance as a benchmark to compare two different evaluative learning techniques: Particle Swarm Optimization and Q-learning. For Q-learning, we implement two different approaches: one with discrete states and discrete actions, and another one with discrete actions but a continuous state space. We show that continuous PSO has the highest fitness overall, and Q-learning with continuous states performs significantly better than Q-learning with discrete states. We also show that in the single robot case, PSO and Q-learning with discrete states require a similar amount of total learning time to converge, while the time required with Q-learning with continuous states is significantly larger. In the multi-robot case, both Q-learning approaches require a similar amount of time as in the single robot case, but the time required by PSO can be significantly reduced due to the distributed nature of the algorithm.

Posted on: May 20, 2013

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 neurorobotic platform for locomotor prosthetic development in rats and mice

  • Authors: Von Zitzewitz, Joachim; Asboth, Leonie; Fumeaux, Nicolas; Hasse, Alexander; Baud, Laetitia; Vallery, Heike; Courtine, Grégoire

Objectives. We aimed to develop a robotic interface capable of providing finely-tuned, multidirectional trunk assistance adjusted in real-time during unconstrained locomotion in rats and mice. Approach. We interfaced a large-scale robotic structure actuated in four degrees of freedom to exchangeable attachment modules exhibiting selective compliance along distinct directions. This combination allowed high-precision force and torque control in multiple directions over a large workspace. We next designed a neurorobotic platform wherein real-time kinematics and physiological signals directly adjust robotic actuation and prosthetic actions. We tested the performance of this platform in both rats and mice with spinal cord injury. Main Results. Kinematic analyses showed that the robotic interface did not impede locomotor movements of lightweight mice that walked freely along paths with changing directions and height profiles. Personalized trunk assistance instantly enabled coordinated locomotion in mice and rats with severe hindlimb motor deficits. Closed-loop control of robotic actuation based on ongoing movement features enabled real-time control of electromyographic activity in anti-gravity muscles during locomotion. Significance. This neurorobotic platform will support the study of the mechanisms underlying the therapeutic effects of locomotor prosthetics and rehabilitation using high-resolution genetic tools in rodent models.

Posted on: February 24, 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

A soft robotic actuator using dielectric minimum energy structures

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

Dielectric minimum energy structures are capable of large actuation stroke, and consist of a pre-stretched dielectric elastomer actuator (DEA) laminated onto a flexible frame, which makes it easy to obtain both simple and complex shapes. We report here on the fabrication and characterization of a prototype capable of one-dimensional bending actuation. For the DEA, several combinations of ion-implanted PDMS membranes and uniaxial pre-stretch ratio were used. The actuator was characterized by measuring the deformation and output force vs. applied voltage. The results showed that the prototype is able to exhibit bending actuation in the range of around 60 deg. Additionally the initial deformation depends on fabrication parameters such as thickness of the materials, pre-stretch ratio as well as dose of implanted ions.

Posted on: May 14, 2012

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
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