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by   -   February 27, 2017

Over recent years the explosion in popularity of drones, both professionally and for amateur use, has inspired researchers to consider how to make flying robots as safe and robust as possible. Previous design methods have included producing bulky protective cages or making them as unlikely to crash as possible. Recently, researchers from Floreano Lab, NCCR Robotics and EPFL have presented a new approach to making crash resilient quadcopters – making them soft, so it doesn’t matter if they come into contact with their surrounding environment.

by   -   December 16, 2016
Source: École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL)
Source: École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL)

Bioinspired robots that take their designs from biology has been a big research area in recent years, but a team from NCCR RoboticsFloreano Lab have just gone one step further and designed a feathered drone to fully replicate the agile flight of birds.

img_4456_dxo_web

A group from Floreano Lab, EPFL and NCCR Robotics has today published their novel variable stiffness fibre with self-healing capability.

Soft “hardware” components are becoming more and more popular solutions within the field of robotics. In fact softness, compliance and foldability bring significant advantages to devices by allowing conformability and safe interactions with users, objects and unstructured environments. However for some applications, the softness of components adversely reduces the range of forces those devices can apply or sustain. An optimal solution would be having components able to vary their softness according to the needed task.

by and   -   January 15, 2016

Last month we caught up with Dario Floreano, the head of the Laboratory of Intelligent Systems at the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland. Here we continue our discussion, covering acoustic sensing, multi-drone operations and more. Missed Part 1? Check it out here.

by and   -   December 22, 2015

As head of the Laboratory of Intelligent Systems at the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland, Dario Floreano knows a thing or two about flying robots. In the first segment of a two-part conversation, Waypoint caught up with Floreano to discuss his team’s drone research, the potential applications of such innovations, and more.

For those with extreme mobility problems, such as paralysis following spinal cord injury or neurological disease, telepresence can greatly help to offset social isolation. However, controlling a mobile telepresence device through obstacles like doorways can be difficult when fine motor skills have been compromised. Researchers from CNBI, EPFL and NCCR Robotics this week published a cunning solution that uses brain-computer interfaces (BCIs) to enable patients to share control with the robot, making it far easier to navigate.

Quad in both operation and folded positions
The foldable quadrotor is small enough to fit in a hand (Photo: LIS, EPFL, NCCR Robotics).

The use of robots to find victims after natural disasters is fast becoming commonplace, with well documented cases where robots have been sent into areas too dangerous for rescue workers.  While the issues surrounding robustness, control and autonomy are frequently cited as key areas for research, a  team from LIS, EPFL and NCCR Robotics is working on another important aspect, how to make flying robots easily transportable and quick to deploy.

Sensory-Motor Tissues for Soft Robots
Sensory-Motor Tissues for Soft Robots

In this video, PhD student at LIS, EPFL and NCCR Robotics Jun Shintake explains his project “Sensory-Motor tissues for Soft Robots”.

Ground-Air Collaboration
Ground-Air collaboration between robots (Photo: RPG and Alain Herzog).

Working in the field of rescue robotics, the Robotics Perception Group (UZH and NCCR Robotics) works on how to get air robots communicating with ground robots, with the aim of exploiting the strengths of each by working in a team.  In the video below, student Elias Müggler explains how he is doing this.

The Pleurobot
The Pleurobot (Photo: Hillary Sanctuary & BioRob).

The Pleurobot is a bioinspired robot being developed by the BioRob at EPFL and NCCR Robotics. Taking it’s cues from the salamander, the Pleurobot is a walking robot that can change its gait to help it to navigate uneven terrain, and is currently learning to swim.  Watch the video to see the researchers discuss what they are doing with the Pleurobot and how they hope to improve it in future.

by   -   February 10, 2015

Flyability_Gimball

Flyability, a spin off company from LIS, EPFL and NCCR Robotics, has won the $1M inaugural UAE Drones for Good competition with Gimball, the world’s first crash resilient drone.

Much has been made of the numerous advances in robotic prosthetics and orthotics (P/O) over recent years, and the question of how to control these devices so that they work in accordance with the intention of the user is a continuing dilemma for roboticists. A new review of the field has just been published.

The DALER is a winged robot that can also walk.
The DALER is a winged robot that can also walk.

The issue of how to use one robot across multiple terrains is an ongoing question in robotics research. In a paper published in Bioinspiration and Biomimetics today, a team from LIS, EPFL and NCCR Robotics propose a new kind of flying robot that can also walk. Called the DALER (Deployable Air-Land Exploration Robot), the robot uses adaptive morphology inspired by the common vampire bat, Desmodus rotundus, meaning that the wings have been actuated using a foldable skeleton mechanism covered with a soft fabric so that they can be used both as wings and as legs (whegs).

Working out the mechanics of walking is a major step towards creating assistive technologies.

When thinking about robots that can be used to care for the elderly, most people imagine humanoid robots that are meant to help with cooking, cleaning and socializing. But what if robots could be used to keep elderly people from needing help in the first place? Walking assistive devices could be just the tool.

A new foldable actuator has been successfully used to fly a MAV.
A new foldable actuator has been successfully used to fly a MAV.

Traditionally, many key robot components (including sensors and actuators) are rigid, and this makes it difficult for researchers and industry to make them truly compliant with their surroundings. It’s with this problem in mind that a team from NCCR Robotics in the Laboratory of Intelligent Systems and the Microsystems for Space Technologies Laboratory both at EPFL in Switzerland have developed a new soft actuator that enables robots to fold.





Kickstart Accelerator
April 17, 2017


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