A team from EPFL and NCCR Robotics lead by Profs Stéphanie Lacour, Grégoire Courtine and Silvestro Micera published an article in Science today describing their e-dura implant that could revolutionise how we think about and treat paralysis. Until now, implants placed beneath the dura mater of the spinal cord have caused significant tissue damage when used over long periods. Research shows that the new e-dura implant is viable for months at a time in animal subjects. The team is now moving on to clinical trials in human subjects and is developing their prototype to take to market.
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.
ETH Zurich and the University of Zurich are founding a new translational research centre at the interface of medicine, science and engineering: the Wyss Translational Center Zurich. Through an interdisciplinary approach, the new centre aims to accelerate the development and application of innovative medical therapies and groundbreaking robotic systems.
The ETH spin-off Aeon Scientific has won the 2014 Swiss Technology Award in the Start-up category. The biomedical engineering company impressed the judges with its robot-controlled surgical system, which can be used to treat cardiac arrhythmia quickly and safely.
ETH Zurich and EPFL are jointly entering into a new research partnership with Microsoft Research. Over five years, Microsoft Research will provide five million Swiss francs of funding to support IT research projects. Microsoft researchers will also work closely with the scientists at the two universities.
Unlike larger robots, microrobots for applications in the body are too small to carry batteries and motors. To address this challenge, we power and control robots made of magnetic materials using external magnetic fields. Developed at ETH Zurich’s Multi-Scale Robotics Lab (MSRL), the OctoMag is a magnetic manipulation system that uses electromagnetic coils to wirelessly guide microrobots for ophthalmic surgery.
“The whole is greater than the sum of its parts” — a catch phrase that aptly expresses the Distributed Flight Array: a modular robot consisting of hexagonal-shaped single-rotor units that can take on just about any shape or form. Although each unit is capable of generating enough thrust to lift itself off the ground, on its own it is incapable of flight much like a helicopter cannot fly without its tail rotor. However, when joined together, these units evolve into a sophisticated multi-rotor system capable of coordinated flight and much more.
The Airburr, a light-weight flying robot from the Laboratory of Intelligent Systems (my PhD lab) at EPFL, was designed to fly in cluttered environments. Unlike most flying robot, which avoid contact at all cost, the Airburr interacts with its environment to navigate. Just like you might trail your hand along a wall to find your way in the dark, the robot can bounce of walls or follow them without crashing to the ground.