Cybathlon 2020

The executive board of ETH Zurich has officially announced that Cybathlon will take place 2020 in Zurich! Also, discover the Cybathlon set of stamps issued by Sierra Leone & find out which Cybathlon image was selected as part of the BBC’s most striking photos of 2016.

Education committee

We are pleased to announce Francesco Mondada as chair of the NCCR Robotics Education Committee as of December 2016. We also take this opportunity to thank Aude Billard for her valuable work as previous chair of this committee.

Six-Legged Robots Faster than Nature-Inspired Gait

Chances are that you’ve never given much thought to how insects walk, or what combination of leg movements – or gaits – is most stable or fastest, but, if like a group of scientists from Ramdya, Floreano and Ijspeert labs, NCCR Robotics, you are trying to create fast and robust robots, taking inspiration some of nature’s most agile movers might give …

Cybathlon 2020 announced

09.02.17 – In today’s press conference with the executive board of ETH Zurich an official announcement was made: The Cybathlon will take place once again in Zurich in 2020 – organised by ETH ZurichBehind the scenes, planning for the next Cybathlon has been taking place since the successful premiere in October last year. The success …

K-ROCK meets his cousin

26.01.17 – Tune in to Spy in the Wild on BBC 1 on 26th January at 20:00 GMT to see NCCR Robotics’ newest robot in action. Producers from John Downer productions for BBC One’s Spy in the Wild first approached Ijspeert Lab, EPFL in 2015 to ask them to create two robots, a crocodile and a monitor lizard, to be …

Call for papers: R4L @HRI 2017

23.01.17 – Submission deadline: 31st January 2017.An increasing amount of HRI research focuses on the development of social robots acting as tutors. While robots have been popular as a focus for STEM teaching (see Lego Mindstorms or Thymio), the use of robots as tutors is novel. The field of HRI has started reporting on how …

Call for papers: International Journal of Social Robotics

23.01.17 – Special Issue in International Journal of Social Robotics: Please submit the journal manuscripts by 01 March 2017.Research in Human-Robot interaction is being vastly applied to assist humans in their everyday lives. Pertaining to this context is the application of robots for educational purposes, which has been emerging these past few years. Some robotic platforms …

ANYmal – Best Paper Award at IROS

Congratulations to the Hutter Lab for winning the IROS best paper Award. We also take this opportunity to encourage you to visit the new NCCR Robotics Spin Fund ANYbotics website where you can subscribe to their newsletter.

Past Events

Date/Time Event Description
13 Sep – 15 Sep 2019
All Day
EPFL Drone Days 2019
EPFL, Lausanne Suisse
In 2019, the Drone Days event will happen during EPFL's Open Days (13-15 September) and are part of the institution's 50th anniversary activities. As in the previous years, NCCR Robotics...
13 Sep 2019
All Day
Aviation Digital Transformation Forum
EPFL Rolex Learning Centre, Lausanne
The event will take place at the EPFL Rolex Learning Centre in Lausanne, Switzerland on Friday 13 September at the EPFL Rolex Learning Centre. Dario Floreano, Davide Scaramuzza and Roland...
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: https://ethz.doodle.com/poll/qxet6yvyw7qpui94 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: http://swissroboticsindustry.ch
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. https://dronedays.epfl.ch
2 Jul – 7 Jul 2018
All Day
ARCHE
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.   https://forward-sme.epfl.ch  
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
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  
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 
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
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
http://r4l.epfl.ch/HRI2017
2 Mar 2017
12:30 pm – 2:00 pm
Business Ideas @EPFL Swiss Robotics going global
SwissTech Convention Center, Ecublens
www.ifj.ch/cti-epfl
2 Mar 2017
12:30 pm – 2:00 pm
Business Ideas @EPFL
SwissTech Convention Center, Ecublens
http://www.ifj.ch/cti-epfl
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 www.swissindustryday.ch
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
WORKSHOP ON BRAIN-MACHINE INTERFACES (SMC 2016)
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.

Soft Pneumatic Actuator Fascicles for High Force and Reliability

  • Authors: Robertson, Matthew Aaron; Sadeghi, Hamed; Florez, Juan Manuel; Paik, Jamie

Soft pneumatic actuators (SPAs) are found in mobile robots, assistive wearable devices, and rehabilitative technologies. While soft actuators have been one of the most crucial elements of technology leading the development of the soft robotics field, they fall short of force output and bandwidth requirements for many tasks. Additionally, other general problems remain open including robustness, controllability, and repeatability. The SPA-pack architecture presented here aims to satisfy these standards of reliability crucial to the field of soft robotics, while also improving the basic performance capabilities of SPAs by borrowing advantages leveraged ubiquitously in biology; namely the structured parallel arrangement of lower power actuators to form the basis of a larger, more powerful actuator module. An SPA-pack module consisting of a number of smaller SPAs will be studied using an analytical model and physical prototype. Experimental measurements show an SPA-pack to generate over 112 N linear force, while the model indicates the benefit of parallel actuator grouping over a geometrically equivalent single SPA scales as an increasing function of the number of individual actuators in the group. For a module of four actuators, a 23 % increase in force production over a volumetrically equivalent single SPA is predicted and validated, while further gains appear possible up to 50 %. These findings affirm the advantage of utilizing a fascicle structure for high-performance soft robotic applications over existing monolithic SPA designs. An example high-performance soft robotic platform will be presented to demonstrate the capability of SPA-pack modules in a complete and functional system.

Posted on: September 20, 2016

Soft Pneumatic Gelatin Actuator for Edible Robotics

  • Authors: Shintake, Jun; Sonar, Harshal Arun; Piskarev, Egor; Paik, Jamie; Floreano, Dario

We present a fully edible pneumatic actuator based on gelatin-glycerol material. The actuator is monolithic, fabricated via a molding process, and measures 90 mm in length, 20 mm in width, and 17 mm in thickness. Thanks to the material mechanical characteristics similar to those of silicone elastomers, the actuator exhibits a bending angle of 170.3 degrees and a blocked force of 0.34 N at the applied pressure of 25 kPa. These values are comparable to elastomer based pneumatic actuators. As a validation example, two actuators are integrated to form a gripper capable of handling various objects, highlighting the high performance and applicability of the edible actuator. These edible actuators, combined with other recent edible materials and electronics, could lay the foundation for a new type of edible robots.

Posted on: October 3, 2017

Soft Robotics: Challenges and Perspectives

  • Authors: Iida, Fumiya; Laschi, Cecilia

There has been an increasing interest in the use of unconventional materials and morphologies in robotic systems because the underlying mechanical properties (such as body shapes, elasticity, viscosity, softness, density and stickiness) are crucial research topics for our in-depth understanding of embodied intelligence. The detailed investigations of physical system-environment interactions are particularly important for systematic development of technologies and theories of emergent adaptive behaviors. Based on the presentations and discussion in the Future Emerging Technology (fet11) conference, this article introduces the recent technological development in the field of soft robotics, and speculates about the implications and challenges in the robotics and embodied intelligence research. (C) Selection and peer-review under responsibility of FET11 conference organizers and published by Elsevier B.V.

Posted on: June 28, 2012

Stretchable Materials for Robust Soft Actuators towards Assistive Wearable Devices

  • Authors: Agarwal, Gunjan; Besuchet, Nicolas; Audergon, Basile Nicolas; Paik, Jamie

Soft actuators made from elastomeric active materials can find widespread potential implementation in a variety of applications ranging from assistive wearable technologies targeted at biomedical rehabilitation or assistance with activities of daily living, bioinspired and biomimetic systems, to gripping and manipulating fragile objects, and adaptable locomotion. In this manuscript, we propose a novel two-component soft actuator design and design tool that produces actuators targeted towards these applications with enhanced mechanical performance and manufacturability. Our numerical models developed using the finite element method can predict the actuator behavior at large mechanical strains to allow efficient design iterations for system optimization. Based on two distinctive actuator prototypes’ (linear and bending actuators) experimental results that include free displacement and blocked-forces, we have validated the efficacy of the numerical models. The presented extensive investigation of mechanical performance for soft actuators with varying geometric parameters demonstrates the practical application of the design tool, and the robustness of the actuator hardware design, towards diverse soft robotic systems for a wide set of assistive wearable technologies, including replicating the motion of several parts of the human body.

Posted on: September 27, 2016

The Accuracy of Automatic Photogrammetric Techniques on Ultra-light UAV Imagery

  • Authors: Küng, Olivier; Strecha, Christoph; Beyeler, Antoine; Zufferey, Jean-Christophe; Floreano, Dario; Fua, Pascal; Gervaix, François

This paper presents an affordable, fully automated and accurate mapping solutions based on ultra-light UAV imagery. Several datasets are analysed and their accuracy is estimated. We show that the accuracy highly depends on the ground resolution (flying height) of the input imagery. When chosen appropriately this mapping solution can compete with traditional mapping solutions that capture fewer high-resolution images from airplanes and that rely on highly accurate orientation and positioning sensors on board. Due to the careful integration with recent computer vision techniques, the post processing is robust and fully automatic and can deal with inaccurate position and orientation information which are typically problematic with traditional techniques.

Posted on: September 10, 2011

The AirBurr: A Flying Robot That Can Exploit Collisions

  • Authors: Briod, Adrien; Klaptocz, Adam; Zufferey, Jean-Christophe; Floreano, Dario

Research made over the past decade shows the use of increasingly complex methods and heavy platforms to achieve autonomous flight in cluttered environments. However, efficient behaviors can be found in nature where limited sensing is used, such as in insects progressing toward a light at night. Interestingly, their success is based on their ability to recover from the numerous collisions happening along their imperfect flight path. The goal of the AirBurr project is to take inspiration from these insects and develop a new class of flying robots that can recover from collisions and even exploit them. Such robots are designed to be robust to crashes and can take-off again without human intervention. They navigate in a reactive way and, unlike conventional approaches, they don’t need heavy modelling in order to fly autonomously. We believe that this new paradigm will bring flying robots out of the laboratory environment and allow them to tackle unstructured, cluttered environments. This paper aims at presenting the vision of the AirBurr project, as well as the latest results in the design of a platform capable of sustaining collisions and self-recovering after crashes.

Posted on: March 7, 2012

The Autonomous Photovoltaic MarXbot

  • Authors: Vaussard, Florian Christopher; Rétornaz, Philippe; Liniger, Martin; Mondada, Francesco

Domestic service robots are currently powered by the mains electricity. The growing multiplication of such devices negatively impacts our environment. In this study, we show the feasibility of harvesting energy from natural light in an indoor environment. The design of the harvester is carefully carried out using an experimental characterisation of several solar panels, while the boost converter is optimised to operate at low-light intensities and the robot is enhanced for low-power operations. The resulting harvester is then thoroughly characterised. Finally, a phototaxis experiment is conducted, proving the feasibility of recharging the robot solely by using this form of energy. The possibility of embedding energy harvesting in indoor mobile robots radically changes the potential impact of this technology in our society.

Posted on: April 10, 2012

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