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 …

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 …

Past Events

Date/Time Event Description
3 May 2019
11:45 am – 2:00 pm
2nd NCCR Robotics Women in Research Lunch
ETH Zurich, HG G3, Zurich
Date: Friday, 3 May 2019 Time: 11:45 – 14:00 Location: ETH Zürich, room ML E 13 Guest: Prof. Dr. Heike Valléry, TU Delft Registration: by 20 April at the...
3 Dec – 4 Dec 2018
All Day
BMI Symposium 2018 "Controlling behavior"
EPFL, Lausanne Suisse
Prof. Pavan Ramdya, Prof. Carl Petersen & Prof. Auke Ijspeert (NCCR Robotics PI) invite you to the 2018 BMI Symposium on "Controlling behavior". With this one and a half day symposium, we...
1 Nov 2018
All Day
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:
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.
26 Jun 2018
All Day
Seminar: Bioinspired Robotics
EPFL, Lausanne Suisse
  EPFL Bioinspired Platform invites you to their next Research & Industry Seminar on the topic of Bioinspired Robotics. Join them to learn how researchers and companies and are getting...
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...
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:
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...
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 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:          
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:  
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
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

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

The Role of Environmental and Controller Complexity in the Distributed Optimization of Multi-Robot Obstacle Avoidance

  • Authors: Di Mario, Ezequiel; Navarro, Iñaki; Martinoli, Alcherio

The ability to move in complex environments is a fundamental requirement for robots to be a part of our daily lives. Increasing the controller complexity may be a desirable choice in order to obtain an improved performance. However, these two aspects may pose a considerable challenge on the optimization of robotic controllers. In this paper, we study the trade-offs between the complexity of reactive controllers and the complexity of the environment in the optimization of multi-robot obstacle avoidance for resource-constrained platforms. The optimization is carried out in simulation using a distributed, noise-resistant implementation of Particle Swarm Optimization, and the resulting controllers are evaluated both in simulation and with real robots. We show that in a simple environment, linear controllers with only two parameters perform similarly to more complex non-linear controllers with up to twenty parameters, even though the latter ones require more evaluation time to be learned. In a more complicated environment, we show that there is an increase in performance when the controllers can differentiate between front and backwards sensors, but increasing further the number of sensors and adding non-linear activation functions provide no further benefit. In both environments, augmenting reactive control laws with simple memory capabilities causes the highest increase in performance. We also show that in the complex environment the performance measurements are noisier, the optimal parameter region is smaller, and more iterations are required for the optimization process to converge.

Posted on: March 4, 2014

Theoretical Analysis of Three Bio-Inspired Plume Tracking Algorithms

  • Authors: Lochmatter, Thomas; Martinoli, Alcherio

We derive the theoretical performance of three bio-inspired odor source localization algorithms (casting, surge-spiral and surge-cast) in laminar wind flow. Based on the geometry of the trajectories and the wind direction sensor error, we calculate the distribution of the distance overhead and the mean success rate using Bayes inference. Our approach is related to particle filtering and produces smooth output distributions. The results are compared to existing real-robot and simulation results, and a good match is observed.

Posted on: March 16, 2009


  • Author: Riedo, Fanny

Technology is now an important part of our lives. We often see robots cited as the future of education, and reports of their imminent entrance in schools. New projects create buzz in the media and online, but when we look at the actual situation, very few robots are currently used in education, and most of the time, the platform used is the Lego Mindstorms. Why so little diversity? What do robot actually bring to the learning experience? How can we design good educational robots? Hopes are that they bring additional motivation to pupils. Since the use of robots is fun, the learning is supposed to become easier. Robot projects and activities are also expected to foster thinking skills, collaboration, and creative spirit. Finally, there is a need to educate people on technology for two reasons. The first is to break the "black box" image they have of technology, and the second is to encourage them into technical careers. Thanks to the Swiss National Centre of Competence in Research Robotics (NCCR Robotics), we could develop some innovative concepts in educational robotics, and implement one such pedagogical tool. We designed a small wheeled robot with many sensors, and LEDs making its internal state apparent to the user. A simple, white look makes it a neutral base for creating one’s own application, for all age and gender groups. Different user interfaces allow to make it accessible to everybody: • Pre-programmed behaviours that demonstrate its different possibilities • A Visual Programming Language (VPL), without text and based on event-action pairs • The Aseba script language (text-based), with a comprehensive development environment to accompany and inform the user The resulting platform, Thymio II, is completely open-source and open-hardware. It was mass-produced and commercialised at a low cost. This gave the opportunity to evaluate the public’s response to it. We could assess that the robot design is well received and appreciated by different age and gender groups. It seems particularly popular with girls. We analysed the expectations of the different age categories and proposed activities that fitted their specific needs. We could also validate that users of Thymio II learn notions of programming, understand essential concepts such as what sensors are, what is the relationship between the robot, the computer, and the programming environment. With the VPL, they could quickly grasp the meaning of events and event-action pairs. We realised that in spite of the interest it generated, the robot was not used much at home or in schools. We think that there is a need for more guidance and that parallels should be drawn with e-learning for the use at home. In schools, we observed that teachers who use robots are pioneers, who invest time and sometimes money into new technologies out of personal interest. The others do not feel strongly against robotics but are probably discouraged by the lack of institutional injunction, appropriate training, budget, and ready-to-use pedagogical materials. At the end of this work, we conclude by giving a set of guidelines, based on our experience, for the design of educational robots. This project demonstrated very promising results and we believe that it can be a first step toward renewing teaching habits.

Posted on: March 24, 2015

Upgrade Your Robot Competition, Make a Festival!

  • Authors: Riedo, Fanny; Freire, Mariza; Fink, Julia; Ruiz, Guillaume; Fassa, Farinaz; Mondada, Francesco


Posted on: September 12, 2013