Teleoperation of robotic hand

Muscular activity contains information on motion intention. By decoding the muscular activity of an arm during reachig-to-grasp motions, Billard Lab were able to detect grasp type in the early stages of a reaching motion which enables fast activation of a robotic hand by teleoperation. Reference: I. Batzianoulis, S. El Khoury, E. Pirondini, M. Coscia and S. Micera …

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 …

Past Events

Date/Time Event Description
29 Jun – 3 Jul 2020
All Day
ARCHE 2020
Wangen an der Aare, Wangen an der Aare
ARCHE (Advanced Robotic Capabilities for Hazardous Environment) was initiated in 2017 by the SCDR of the DDPS and is lead together with the Teaching Unit of Engineering/Rescue/NBC, ETH Zurich, and...
13 Sep – 15 Sep 2019
All Day
EPFL Drone Days 2019 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: 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" 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 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 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:
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 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 
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) 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
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Looking for publications? You might want to consider searching on the EPFL Infoscience site which provides advanced publication search capabilities.

Localization of emergency acoustic sources by micro aerial vehicles

  • Authors: Basiri, Meysam; Schill, Felix; Lima, Pedro; Floreano, Dario

For micro aerial vehicles (MAVs) involved in search and rescue missions, the ability to locate the source of a distress sound signal is significantly important and allows fast localization of victims and rescuers during nighttime, through foliage and in dust, fog, and smoke. Most emergency sound sources, such as safety whistles and personal alarms, generate a narrowband signal that is difficult to localize by human listeners or with the common localization methods suitable for broadband sounds. In this paper, we present three methods for MAV-based emergency sound localization system. The first method involves designing a new emergency source for immediate localization by the MAV using a common localization method. The other two novel methods allow localizing the currently available emergency sources, or other narrowband sounds in general, that are difficult to localize due to the periodicity in the sequence of sound samples. The second method exploits the Doppler shift in the sound frequency, caused due to the motion of the MAV and the dynamics of the MAV to assist with the localization. The third method involves active control of the robot’s attitude and fusing acoustic and attitude measurements for achieving accurate and robust estimates. We evaluate our methods in real-world experiments with real flying robots.

Posted on: July 12, 2017

Localizing an Odor Source and Avoiding Obstacles: Experiments in a Wind Tunnel using Real Robots

  • Authors: Lochmatter, Thomas; Heiniger, Nicolas; Martinoli, Alcherio

We report on real-robot odor source localization experiments carried out in an environment with obstacles in the odor plume. The robot was equipped with an ethanol sensor and a wind direction sensor, and the experiments were carried out in a wind tunnel, i.e. in a controlled environment. An enhanced version of the surge-spiral algorithm was used, which was augmented with a dedicate behavior to manage obstacles (avoid them, or follow their contour). We compare the results in terms of distance overhead and success rate, and discuss the impact of obstacles on plume traversal.

Posted on: March 16, 2009

Method to determine a direction and amplitude of a current velocity estimate of a moving device

  • Authors: Briod, Adrien; Zufferey, Jean-christophe; Floreano, Dario

A new method for the estimation of ego-motion (the direction and amplitude of the velocity) of a mobile device comprising optic-flow and inertial sensors (hereinafter the apparatus). The velocity is expressed in the apparatus’s reference frame, which is moving with the apparatus. The method relies on short-term inertial navigation and the direction of the translational optic- flow in order to estimate ego-motion, defined as the velocity estimate (that describes the speed amplitude and the direction of motion).A key characteristic of the invention is the use of optic- flow without the need for any kind of feature tracking. Moreover, the algorithm uses the direction of the optic-flow and does not need the amplitude, thanks to the fact that the scale of the velocity is solved by the use of inertial navigation and changes in direction of the apparatus.

Posted on: September 22, 2015

Miniature curved artificial compound eyes

  • Authors: Floreano, Dario; Pericet Camara, Ramon; Viollet, Stéphane; Ruffier, Franck; Brückner, Andreas; Leitel, Robert; Buss, Wolfgang; Menouni, Mohsine; Expert, Fabien; Juston, Raphäel; Dobrzynski, Michal Karol; L"Eplattenier, Géraud; Recktenwald, Fabian; Mallot, Hanspeter A.; Franceschini, Nicolas

In most animal species, vision is mediated by compound eyes, which offer lower resolution than vertebrate single-lens eyes, but significantly larger fields of view with negligible distortion and spherical aberration, and high temporal resolution in a tiny package. Compound eyes are ideally suited for fast panoramic motion perception. Engineering a miniature artificial compound eye is challenging, because it requires accurate alignment of the photoreceptive and optical components on a curved surface. Here we describe a novel design method for biomimetic compound eyes featuring a panoramic, undistorted field of view in a very thin package. The design consists of three planar layers of separately produced arrays, namely, a microlens array, a neuromorphic photodetector array and a flexible printed circuit board, that are stacked, cut and curved to produce a mechanically flexible imager. Following this method, we have prototyped and characterized an artificial compound eye bearing a hemispherical field of view with embedded and programmable low-power signal processing, high temporal resolution, and local adaptation to illumination. The prototyped artificial compound eye possesses several characteristics similar to the eye of the fruit fly Drosophila and other arthropod species. This design method opens up new vistas for a broad range of applications where wide field motion detection is at a premium, such as collision-free navigation of terrestrial and aerospace vehicles, and for the experimental testing of insect vision theories.

Posted on: April 25, 2013

Minimalistic Models of an Energy Efficient Vertical Hopping Robot

  • Authors: Yu, Xiaoxiang; Iida, Fumiya

The use of free vibration in elastic structure can lead to energy efficient robot locomotion, since it significantly reduces the energy expenditure if properly designed and controlled. However, it is not well understood how to harness the dynamics of free vibration for the robot locomotion, because of the complex dynamics originated in discrete events and energy dissipation during locomotion. From this perspective, the goal of this paper is to propose a design strategy of hopping robot based on elastic curved beams and actuated rotating masses, and identify the minimalistic model that can characterize the basic principle of robot locomotion. Since the robot mainly exhibits vertical hopping, three one-dimensional models are examined that contain different configurations of simple spring-damper-mass components. The real-world and simulation experiments show that one of the models best characterizes the robot hopping, through analyzing the basic kinematics and negative works in actuation. Based on this model, the self-stability of hopping motion under disturbances is investigated and design and control parameters are analyzed for the energy efficient hopping. Additionally, further analyses show that this robot can achieve the energy efficient hopping with the variation in payload, and the source of energy dissipation of the robot hopping is investigated.

Posted on: September 9, 2013

Mori: A Modular Origami Robot

  • Authors: Belke, Christoph; Paik, Jamie

This paper proposes a new robotic platform based on origami robots and reconfigurable modular robots. The concept combines the advantages of both robot types into a mobile, quasi-two-dimensional, lattice-type reconfigurable modular origami robot, Mori. A detailed description and analysis of the concept is validated by the presentation of a first prototype that incorporates the key functionalities of the proposed system. The modular robot prototype is mobile, can be connected to other modules of its kind, and fold up to create task-specific three-dimensional reconfigurable structures. Three implementations using the prototype in different configurations are presented in form of individual modules, modular reconfigurable surfaces, and applied to closed-loop object manipulation. The experiments highlight the capabilities and advantages of the system with respect to modularity, origami-folding, mobility, and versatility.

Posted on: April 20, 2017

Motivating Children to Tidy up their Toys with a Robotic Box

  • Authors: Fink, Julia; Vaussard, Florian Christopher; Rétornaz, Philippe; Berthoud, Alain; Wille, Florian; Mondada, Francesco; Dillenbourg, Pierre

The poster presents the evaluation of our prototype, called “Ranger”, which is a robotic box that aims to motivate young children to tidy up their room. The robot was tested in 14 families with 31 children (2-10 years) using the Wizard-of-Oz technique. We found that the way in which children interacted with the robotic box was impacted by how active it behaved. Significantly more toys were put in the box in the passive robot condition compared to children’s more playful and explorative behavior in the active robot condition. Our results hold important implications for the design of interactive robots for children.

Posted on: March 13, 2013

On the Need for Both Internal and External Context Awareness for Reliable BCIs

  • Authors: Carlson, Tom; Saeedi, Sareh; Chavarriaga Lozano, Ricardo; Millán, José del R.

In this paper we argue that for brain-computer interfaces (BCIs) to be used reliably for extended periods of time, they must be able to adapt to the user’s evolving needs. This adaptation should not only be a function of the environmental (external) context, but should also consider the internal context, such as cognitive states and brain signal reliability. We demonstrate two successful approaches to modulating the level of assistance: by using online task performance metrics; and by monitoring the reliability of the BCI decoders. We then describe how these approaches could be fused together, resulting in a more user-centred solution.

Posted on: April 29, 2013

Online learning and adaptation of patient support during ADL training

  • Authors: Guidali, M.; Schlink, P.; Duschau-Wicke, A.; Riener, R.

Neurological patients with impaired upper limbs often receive arm therapy to restore or relearn lost motor functions. During the last years robotic devices were developed to assist the patient during the training. In daily life the diversity of movements is large because the human arm has many degrees of freedom and is used as a manipulandum to interact with the environment. To support a patient during the training the amount of support should be adapted in an assist-as-needed manner. We propose a method to learn the arm support needed during the training of activities of daily living (ADL) with an arm rehabilitation robot. The model learns the performance of the patient and creates an impairment space with a radial basis function network that can be used to assist the patient together with a patient-cooperative control strategy. Together with the arm robot ARMin the learning algorithm was evaluated. The results showed that the proposed model is able to learn the required arm support for different movements during ADL training. © 2011 IEEE.

Posted on: March 13, 2012

Online Modulation of the Level of Assistance in Shared Control Systems

  • Authors: Carlson, Tom; Leeb, Robert; Chavarriaga, Ricardo; Millán, José del R.

In this paper we propose a method to modulate the level of assistance provided by a shared controller, not only given the environmental context, but also according to the context of the user’s current behaviour. We show that the enhanced situational context can be adequately captured by using online performance metrics (such as those more usually found in the evaluation of shared control systems). The resultant controller not only allows the user to perform better in the primary task (like many shared control systems), but has also has increased the level of user acceptance, due to the personalised dynamics of the control policy.

Posted on: August 15, 2012
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