Robot Revolution: From the Lab to the World
Swiss university spin-offs flex their robotic muscle in honor of the International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS). Hear from the hottest companies and researchers and interact with a robot that balances on a ball, a service bot that acts as a guide, and a pair of tiny fliers.
The future in which robots are a normal part of everyday life, present in your car, your home, your office, is here. Technologies that were once only the subject of university research are now making their way to market. And a number of Swiss companies that began in academia are leading the pack.
In conjunction with the International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS), swissnex San Francisco brings you an evening of some of the hottest robotic spin-offs and inventions bubbling up from university labs.
Peter Fankhauser is a student of Robotics, Systems, and Control at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich (ETH Zurich). He works part-time as control and mechanics specialist at Skybotix, where he helps develop micro helicopters. At the 2011 Universum Award, he was nominated and won in the category, "Innovation Student of the Year." He founded and leads a team of thirteen students taking part in a one-year project to develop a robot that balances and drives on a single ball, thus moving in an elegant, organic way. The team has been invited to give several presentations and exhibitions in Switzerland, Germany, Scotland, and the US. In the fall of 2011, he will conduct a six-month internship at the Florida Institute of Machine and Human Cognition.
Lukas Limacher is a master's student in mechanical engineering at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich (ETH Zurich). He is specializing in robotics, systems, and control. He works part-time at ETH Zurich as a teaching assistant and is currently working on a research project to build an AUV Robot, based on the kinematics of a turtle. In 2010, he completed an internship at the Disney Research Center in Glendale, California, where he presented the project "Rezero," on which he has been working on together with Peter Fankhauser and other ETH Zurich students.
Olivier Michel is the CEO of Cyberbotics, a software company specialized in mobile robots
simulation which he founded in 1998. From 2003 to March 2005, he
conducted research at the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne
(EPFL) in the Biologically Inspired Robotics Group (BIRG) and in the Swarm-Intelligent Systems Research Group.
graduated as an engineer from the Universite de Technologie de
Compiegne in 1993 with a specialty in computer science and also received
a DEA (diplome des études appliques) in systems control. He earned a
Ph.D. in computer science in 1996 from the University of Nice. He is
the author of Webots: Professional Mobile Robot
Simulation and An Artificial Life Approach for the Synthesis of
Autonomous Agents. He coauthored Vision Sensors on the Webots
Simulator and Artificial Neurogenesis: An application to Autonomous Robotics.
Nicola Rohrseitz is the founder and CEO of the Swiss start-up ViSSee. He studied Microengineering at the EPFL, conducting his M.Sc. thesis in Underwater Robotics at the University of Tokyo in 2005. By applying control theory techniques to free flying fruit flies during his Ph.D. in Physics and Neuroscience at the ETH Zurich, he discovered disruptive computational principles that in 2009 became the foundations of ViSSee.
In 2010, ViSSee was listed among Switzerland's 10 best business ideas and, among other awards, Rohrseitz recently won the DeVigier prize, which recognizes the top five young entrepreneurs of the nation.
Pascal Strupler is the Chief Engineer of Skybotix, where he is responsible for developments concerning software as well as hardware of the autonomous vehicles and evaluating new innovations. He received his master's degree in 2010 in Robotics, Systems, and Control from ETH Zurich and holds a bachelor's degree in Electrical Engineering and Information Technology.
Nicola joined BlueBotics SA as R&D manager in 2001 and has been the companyâ€™s CEO since 2003. He earned his M.Sc. in computer science in 1998 from ETH Zurich and his Ph.D. in robotics in 2001 from EPFL. From 2001 to 2005, he was a senior researcher with the Autonomous Systems Lab. He has authored or co-authored more than 40 book chapters, journal articles, and conference papers.
In 2008, Tomatis received the IEEE-RAS Early Career Award in Robotics and Automation and, in 2009, was included in the Swiss business magazine Bilanâ€™s list of 20 start-up leaders making Switzerland. Bilan also chose Tomatis as one of the 300 most influential people of Switzerland in 2010.
Design, construction, and use of machines (robots) to perform tasks done traditionally by human beings. Robots are widely used in such industries as automobile manufacture to perform simple repetitive tasks, and in industries where work must be performed in environments hazardous to humans. Many aspects of robotics involve artificial intelligence; robots may be equipped with the equivalent of human senses such as vision, touch, and the ability to sense temperature. Some are even capable of simple decision making, and current robotics research is geared toward devising robots with a degree of self-sufficiency that will permit mobility and decision-making in an unstructured environment. Today's industrial robots do not resemble human beings; a robot in human form is called an android.