NCCR Robotics

NCCR Robotics

Intelligent Robots for Improving the Quality of Life The National Centre of Competence in Research (NCCR) Robotics is a Swiss nationwide organisation funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation… Read more

Press Pack

Press Pack

For a summary of our activities please download our info pack. Need more information?



Through our spin fund, we support the creation of start-ups from NCCR Robotics research projects. The next major step in robot evolution will see robots leave the structured factory… Read more

Start-up Corner

Start-up Corner

Please find following links related to start-up support.If you would like to promote your events through our channel, please contact us at Annual IMD Startup Competition Could your startup… 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:

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. Fotokite is a spin-off from ETHZürich’s Flying Machine Arena with patented technology that fundamentally solves …

Upcoming Events

Date/Time Event Description
13 Sep – 15 Sep 2019
All Day
EPFL Drone Days 2019
EPFL, Lausanne Suisse
This year the EPFL NCCR Robotics lab’s drones will again be participating in the EPFL Drone Days. On this occasion, the event will take place at EPFL’s Open House and...

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...
1 Apr – 5 Apr 2019
All Day
Hannover Messe 2019
Deutsche Messe, Hannover
NCCR Robotics will be present at the Hannover Messe 2019 with a corporate booth and 3 additional booths for its spin-offs: Dronistics FES-ABILITY Sevensense The corporate booth will also showcase...
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:
29 Oct – 31 Oct 2018
9:00 am – 5:00 pm
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...
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.
8 Oct – 9 Oct 2018
All Day
Aerial Futures: The Drone Frontier @ HUBweek
Boston District Hall, Boston
Swissnex Boston is gathering a selection of some of the most exciting drone exhibitors from Switzerland and the United States to bring to HUBweek. Expect an eclectic selection of UAVs...
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.
2 Jul – 7 Jul 2018
All Day
Wangen an der Aare, Wangen an der Aare
The event took place in the training village of the civil protection forces of the Swiss Federal Department for Defense, Civil Protection and Sport and was used as field test...
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...
1 Jun 2018
3:15 pm – 4:45 pm
Distinguished Seminar in Robotics, Systems & Control The Institute of Robotics and Intelligent Systems presents: Telerobotic Touch June 1st 2018, 15h15-16h15 Place: ETHZ, Main Building (HG G3) For those at EPFL: a video streaming will take place...
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...
19 Apr 2018
All Day
Forward (Forum de l'Innovation pour les PME)
SwissTech Convention Center, Ecublens
NCCR Robotics will have a booth during this event, hosting two of our spin-offs Foldaway Haptics, and TWIICE.  
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...
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 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:          
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:  
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 
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
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.
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
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
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
2 Nov 2016
All Day
Swiss Robotics Industry Day
SwissTech Convention Center, Ecublens
Please see
23 Oct – 27 Oct 2016
All Day
International Symposium on Safety, Security and Rescue Robotics (SSRR 16)
EPFL, Lausanne Suisse
Please see
9 Oct – 12 Oct 2016
All Day
Intercontinental Hotel, BUDAPEST, 1052 Budapest
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.

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

Advances in Real-World Applications for Legged Robots

Authors: Bellicoso, C. D.; Bjelonic, M.; Wellhausen, L.; Holtmann, K.; Günther, F.; Tranzatto, M.; Fankhauser, P.; Hutter, M.


This paper provides insight into the application of the quadrupedal robot ANYmal in out-door missions of industrial inspection (ARGOS Challenge) and search and rescue (EuropeanRobotics League (ERL) Emergency Robots). In both competitions, the legged robot hadto autonomously and semi-autonomously navigate in real-world scenarios to complete high-level tasks such as inspection and payload delivery. In the ARGOS competition, ANYmalused a rotating LiDAR sensor to localize on the industrial site and map the terrain and ob-stacles around the robot. In the ERL competition, additional Real-Time Kinematic (RTK)-Global Positioning System (GPS) was used to co-localize the legged robot with respect toa Micro Aerial Vehicle (MAV) that creates maps from the aerial view. The high mobilityof legged robots allows overcoming large obstacles, e.g. steps and stairs, with statically anddynamically stable gaits. Moreover, the versatile machine can adapt its posture for inspec-tion and payload delivery. The paper concludes with insight into the general learnings fromthe ARGOS and ERL challenges


Posted on: April 23, 2019

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

Cellulo: Versatile Handheld Robots for Education

  • Authors: Ozgur, Ayberk; Lemaignan, Séverin; Johal, Wafa; Beltran, Maria; Briod, Manon; Pereyre, Léa; Mondada, Francesco; Dillenbourg, Pierre

In this article, we present Cellulo, a novel robotic platform that investigates the intersection of three ideas for robotics in education: designing the robots to be versatile and generic tools; blending robots into the classroom by designing them to be pervasive objects and by creating tight interactions with (already pervasive) paper; and finally considering the practical constraints of real classrooms at every stage of the design. Our platform results from these considerations and builds on a unique combination of technologies: groups of handheld haptic-enabled robots, tablets and activity sheets printed on regular paper. The robots feature holonomic motion, haptic feedback capability and high accuracy localization through a microdot pattern overlaid on top of the activity sheets, while remaining affordable (robots cost about EUR 125 at the prototype stage) and classroom-friendly. We present the platform and report on our first interaction studies, involving about 230 children.

Posted on: January 9, 2017

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